Make your opinion known at the summer flounder hearing

February 25, 2011

It didn’t take long for people to begin fishing once the weather showed the slightest sign of warming. We saw anglers catching sunfish, crappie and perch in Milton late last week and they were still catching on Monday.

I suspect the snow on Tuesday sent most of these fishermen scurrying back to hearth and home.

I also had reports of crappie and perch caught out of local ponds and spillways.

The brief (I hope) cold snap early this week may have cooled the spirits of anglers, but I suspect they will be back once conditions improve.

I made a brief try for perch, or anything else, from the spillway below Records Pond in Laurel and ended the trip with nothing to show for my efforts. I was using a green twister tail on a crappie jig and another angler was using fresh-dug earthworms, but neither of us had so much as a bite.

The only good news from the salt water has been way to our south off Virginia and North Carolina or to our north off New Jersey.

There was a red-hot rockfish bite Sunday just off the beach in Duck, N.C., and boats fishing 15 to 30 miles out of Virginia Beach are catching tog. In New Jersey, head boats fishing offshore wrecks are finding tog and cod. The Delaware head boat and charter fleet was kept at the dock over the weekend due to the high winds.

Flounder hearing
The public hearing to take comments on the two proposals for the 2011 summer flounder season will be held in Dover at the Richardson and Robbins Building at 6 p.m., Saturday, March 26. This is the time to make your opinion known as to which option you would prefer. It is not the time to give your opinion on any other subject.

The two options are four fish at 18.5 inches and no closed season or four fish at 18 inches with a closed season from Oct. 23 to Dec. 31.

While I have only spoken with a few anglers on this subject, the general opinion has been to go with the smaller size limit and the short closed season.

I am sure there will be considerable input from those who favor the larger size and the open season.

The final decision will be made by the secretary of the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control, who will consider all the comments, both written and spoken. In the past, the secretary has gone with the majority, and I hope this trend will continue.

Surf Day
Last Saturday I attended Surf Day near Red Bank, N.J., where I gave a seminar on surf fishing from the barrier islands of Virginia. Surf Day is sponsored by the Jersey Shore Surfcasters, and there were more than 500 fishermen attending the show.

I seriously doubt any of them came to hear me, but they had four other speakers who had considerably more to say about fishing the beach from New Jersey north.

There were at least 15 custom plug makers selling products that ranged in price from $25 to $50. I saw customers carrying bags that held 10 or more plugs, and then they had to have a custom-made surf bag to carry their custom-made plugs.

The only fish the other speakers discussed was the striped bass.

Three out of the four had landed bass over 50 pounds from the beach with all saying the most effective offering for a big bass was a live or rigged eel. The best time to fish was on the new moon from sunset to sunrise.

The best months were June, July and August in New England and spring and fall in New Jersey. Everyone agreed the best places to catch a trophy bass were the Elizabeth Islands off the coast of Massachusetts or Block Island off Rhode Island.

I have been on Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard and Cuttyhunk, and I must say they are unlike any beach south of there. In many places you must navigate over seaweed-covered rocks just to reach the water. Then you have to work around the rocks in the surf prospecting for fish with plugs or eels. All of this is done in the dark with the wind in your face.

By the time I got to Cuttyhunk I was too old and crippled to even consider walking on those slippery rocks.

I fished the few small areas of sand beach catching small rockfish on poppers during daylight and black Bomber plugs at night.

Nevertheless it was great to be on the fabled island where the Cuttyhunk Club still stands and where Mr. Charles Church caught his 73-pound striper that stood as the world record for many years.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at