Full moon sends boats home empty over weekend

March 28, 2011

Just when the water temperature begins to reach the mid-40s, along comes the biggest full moon in 20 years, creating a current so strong that 16 ounces of lead would not hold bottom.  The result was poor tog fishing over the weekend with everyone reporting a slow pick at best.

I did have a report of another successful cod trip on the Thelma Dale V out of Fisherman’s Wharf.  The boat will be sailing for cod and may run some longer offshore trips as well.  All trips are weather dependent.

Rockfish and white perch were caught in the lower Delaware River and upper bay with bloodworms reported as the top bait.  Most of the rock have been small, but a few over 28 inches were taken at Woodland Beach.

I keep getting reports of big white perch in the Broadkill River, but when I go not only are the fish a no-show, but no one else is even fishing.  I have checked out Lodge Pole Bridge, Oyster Rocks and the town dock in Milton on both high and low water.  I have been using bloodworm Gulp! and crappie jigs, so far without result.

Phillips Landing at the junction of the Nanticoke River and Broad Creek west of Laurel is a perch hot spot.  As much as I love fishing there, the price of gas combined with a truck that gets 10 miles per gallon keeps me on the east side of the county. Pond fishing is good for bass, pickerel and crappie.  My reports indicate live shiners have been responsible for a few big bass while crankbaits and jerkbaits have accounted for bass and pickerel.  Crappie are hitting jigs and small minnows.

I have had scattered reports of flounder caught behind the barrier islands of Virginia, so they should show up here in a week or two.  Remember, we must abide by the 2010 flounder regulations until the 2011 rules are put into effect sometime in early May.  Currently, you may keep four flounder with a minimum size of 18.5 inches.

Spring tune-up
Spring is a great time to clean up and tune up your fishing tackle and boat.  Many of us were caught off guard by the sudden cold weather last December that killed the striper run a month early.  As a result, our tackle and boats may not have received the proper care they deserved before winter weather shut everything down.  I know I was out there in subfreezing weather hoisting the batteries out of my boat and dumping fuel stabilizer in my gas tanks. The first thing you should do is get out all your rods and reels.  Check the condition of the line and the rod guides.  Replace anything you find that shows signs of wear or breakage.  Currently, I am in the process of replacing all the mono line on my spinning reels.

The Stren braid on my conventional outfits and some of my spinning reels seems to be fine.

While the line is off the reels I spray them with WD-40.  I wipe the excess off with a soft rag, then use the same rag to wipe down the rods.  Be sure to give the reel seats a good coating of oil. The next area that requires attention is the tackle box or boxes.  I have two soft bags that carry a selection of Plano plastic boxes.  I switch out the Plano boxes depending on what type of fishing I plan to do.

I have boxes for bottom fishing, light tackle casting and flounder fishing, and one box full of hooks, swivels, snaps and other terminal gear.  I also have a very large Plano box to hold my surf-fishing gear.

Bottom rigs have a tendency to become tangled if left on the loose in the bottom of a tackle bag or box.  Round up the strays and separate the good from the bad.  Toss the bad ones and put the good ones in plastic sandwich bags.  Once this is complete you can take inventory and retie new rigs as needed.

Trolling lures and plugs must be checked for rusted or broken hooks.  Leaders should be replaced and the lures stored in a manner that discourages fraternization.  It won’t be long before the big blues and rockfish will be here and nothing is worse than getting out on the grounds and finding your lures tangled, rusted and sporting worn leaders. The biggest worry shared by all boat owners in the spring is will the motor start.  Once the engine is up and running, everything else is just a matter of cleaning and oiling.

I have to change my lower unit oil because it was too cold to do it last December.  I also have to run a new power wire from the battery to the VHF radio because it was also too cold for that job.  And so it goes.

  • 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

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