2020 White Marlin Open is in the books

August 15, 2020

The White Marlin Open for 2020 is in the books, and while a Delaware boat did not walk away with the big money this year, we did have two boats that won sizable amounts.

The Not Right out of Indian River Marina won the Small Boat Division with a 72-pound white marlin that was worth $100,000. The Sword’s Fish, also out of Indian River Marina, placed fourth in the Tuna Category with a 92-pounder and won $148,000. While they didn’t win any money, the Bill Slayer, another Delaware boat, did well in the Top Boat Category that is based on the number and type of billfish releases. At one point they were leading, but a bad day three saw them fail to release any billfish and it dropped them back to 13th place. Still, that is pretty good considering there were 433 boats competing in the tournament.

I was glad Jim Motsko and his committee were able to have the tournament during this time of COVID. Not only does it provide a lot of fun and excitement for the fishermen, it has a big economic impact on the town of Ocean City.

Think small

Fishermen are always looking for the big one, but during late summer it may be smarter to think small and have more fun. While big tuna, wahoo, dolphin and marlin are available offshore, it is closer and cheaper to target spot, croaker and kings nearer to the beach.

The fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park is free to fish once you pay to enter the park. The fee is $5 per vehicle for Delaware residents and $10 per vehicle for nonresidents. That is very reasonable considering you can take the entire family fishing for $5.

Lighthouse View Tackle is located at the base of the fishing pier and it has all the bait and tackle you will need. The shop also has snacks and cold drinks, and there is a bathhouse located across from it.

As for other public access fishing points around Lewes, there are locations at the bridge across Canary Creek, the gazebo in the park where the old boat ramp was and the town dock. There is a small spot under the bridge that crosses the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal by the Freeman Highway.

If you have a small boat, you can easily fish the Lower Bay, the Broadkill River and the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal from the Lewes boat ramp. I am a great believer in not running over fish to get to fish, so I usually begin in the canal or the river. Depending on the current flow, I will either run up the river and then drift back down toward the ramp or run down to Roosevelt Inlet and drift the canal toward town. 

When drifting the river or the canal, I use my electric trolling motor to keep my baits working along the drop-off close to the shoreline. I want my baits to be tight to any pilings, docks or the edge of any marsh where fish may wait in ambush.

I have never had good luck in either location at the bottom of the tide, so if that is the situation, I will run out into the bay and start my day around the south end of the Outer Wall by the lighthouse. The outgoing current creates rips there, and this will attract blues and Spanish mackerel. Cast or troll small metal lures or spoons to attract their attention.

There are many good locations in the lower bay for bottomfish, but I will just mention a few that have been good to me. There is a big rip that makes up on incoming water at the north end of the Outer Wall. Drift across this with jigs or bottom rigs baited with minnows, bloodworms or Gulp!

If you arrive early in the morning at the Outer Wall, try casting small plugs to the rocks on the ocean side. Make sure the plugs come as close to the rocks as possible without hitting them. Let the plug sit still for a few seconds, then use a steady retrieve back to the boat. Blues and rockfish often attack such presentations.

Drifting between the last of the Ice Breakers and the Outer Wall with bottom rigs baited with bloodworms or FishBites can quickly load the cooler with kings. Try drifting between any of the Ice Breakers for kings, spot or croakers. Move up a bit on the Shears for the same action. Use your SONAR to find the fish before dropping a baited hook.

This time of year, you can catch small fish until you are tired of catching. Save a few for a big fish fry and the day is complete.

  • 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 several publications and 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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