Recreational fishing info is critical in MARCO database

February 13, 2016

Last week I reported on the Mid-Atlantic Regional Council on the Ocean meeting held in Dewey Beach Jan. 29. MARCO has a great deal of information on many user groups and what parts of the ocean and Delaware Bay they feel is important to their industry. I was disappointed at the lack of data available from the recreational fishing industry.

Since then, Sarah Cooksey from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control and a member of the MARCO board have been kind enough to contact me and have sent the data MARCO has on areas where recreational fishing occurs. With the exception of Delaware’s artificial reefs, it is short on specific locations.

For those who may have missed last week’s column, MARCO is collecting data to build a database where future users of the ocean can determine exactly where others have established their operations. As an example, if a company wishes to build a windmill farm in the ocean, they would want to know where commercial shipping lanes were located and the flight paths used by birds. One or two clicks on the MARCO database and that information would be provided.

I am far from a computer expert, but I will try to describe how this database works. Each user is assigned a grid. There are separate grids for man-made and natural uses. These grids are then put one on top of the other and when someone wants to know what a certain box on the grid contains, the computer program will look down through the stacks of all users and supply those utilizing the area contained in that box.

If the program does not contain accurate information on recreational fishing, we could lose good fishing locations. Keep in mind, once the MARCO program is complete, the data will be used for years to come. If it is like most government programs, changes will be very difficult. This is why it is so important to get as much data as possible on the recreational fishing grid.

To this end, Sarah Cooksey told me all the states in the Mid-Atlantic area will be trying to gather more recreational fishing data. There could be a meeting of all interested parties in Delaware where MARCO would hope to gain more detailed locations where recreational fishing occurs.

This does not mean they will go after the GPS coordinates for your secret wreck, but they would like to have some idea what part of the ocean it occupies. If the area does not show up on the recreational fishing grid, someone could build a windmill or oil well right on top of your wreck.

Fishing Flea Market
Saturday, Feb. 13 and Sunday, Feb. 14 are the dates of the Pasadena Fishing Club’s Fishing Flea Market at the Earliegh Heights Fire Hall in Pasadena, Md. While it is about an hour from Lewes, it is worth the drive if you have any interest at all in fishing, either salt or fresh water.

There will be booths both inside and outside the hall with bargains galore on rods, reels, lures, hooks, line, sinkers and almost anything else, including hand-tied flies, that you need to go fishing. There are even a few used boats for sale in the parking lot.

My favorite part of the show is the roast beef sandwiches sold by the fire hall. These are pit cooked right there and served with a big roll and plenty of horseradish. Delaware may have the best chicken and dumplings, but those boys in Maryland sure know what to do with a big piece of beef.

In addition to helping yourself to some good buys, you are also helping a good cause. The money raised will go toward the club’s projects during the year, including taking kids fishing. Show hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Take Route 50 across the bay bridge to Maryland, then Route 2 headed toward Baltimore. The Earliegh Heights Fire Hall is on the right about five miles from Route 50. If you want to make it a full day of fishing shopping, the Bass Pro Shop is only a few miles from the show.

Fishing report
The last report we had was right after the big nor’easter when the Rehoboth Star out of South Shore Marina caught a few tog. I feel pretty certain the local ponds will be frozen over by this weekend, but not enough for anyone to go out on the ice.

If you are considering a tog trip anytime soon be sure to call your favorite captain and make sure he is still sailing. This is the time of year when many boats are on the hard for repairs and Coast Guard inspection.

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. Eric can be reached at


  • 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