Bluefish bite is back

May 20, 2017

As everyone knows by now, the bluefish run has been spectacular. Big blues have been caught as far up the Broadkill River as Oyster Rocks and along Broadkill Beach. At times, the fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park has been red hot with limits of blues to 17 pounds landed on the boards. The beach from Herring Point to Fenwick Island has seen excellent action as has the Indian River Inlet. Big blues have also been caught in Indian River and Rehoboth bays.

While bait such as bunker and mullet have caught most of these fish, lures like a Hopkins or Gator spoon as well as surface poppers have also accounted for a fair number. The artificials have been particularly effective at Indian River Inlet and on occasion from the beach.

I have no idea how long this action will last. The bite slows down when the wind blows west, but picks right back up again when it blows out of the east. Last Saturday, with gale-force winds and heavy rain the bluefish bite was great. Sunday saw much slower action on the hard northwest wind.

The black drum bite was just beginning at the Coral Beds before the Saturday storm and the high winds that followed. I have no doubt that it will pick right back up again and should be good over the weekend. The New Jersey side of the bay has also seen black drum action. If you fish over there, you must have a New Jersey FIN number. The number is free and you can get it online.

Most folks use clams for drum, but a whole blue crab will also work and attracts fewer distractions such as skates, rays and sharks. Make sure any crab you use for bait complies with the blue crab regulations.

The flounder season has been slow to start, but prior to the weekend storm, we were receiving better catch reports. The Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, the fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park and the VFW Slough all gave up keepers. Live minnows, squid and Gulp! accounted for these fish.

Black sea bass season opened on Monday and I, like countless others, saw our hopes of catching a limit of big knotheads blown away. Tuesday and Wednesday saw the wind subside, and the catching was great. As usual, I was a day late and a dollar short.
Boats from Ocean City have been catching tuna and mako sharks, and I have no doubt Delaware boats will be in on this action very soon. The secret is finding a good temperature break along an edge. The last we heard there were good breaks at the Poorman's Canyon, but that was before the latest storm.

Fishing in the local ponds has been very good. Mixed catches of bass, pickerel and crappie have been made on crankbaits, stickbaits, jigs and Senko worms. Live minnows and shiners also have their fans.

The weather for the weekend looks very good, so no matter where you like to fish or what you like to catch, now is the time to go.


Spring Surf Tournament

Old Inlet Bait and Tackle held their annual Spring Surf Tournament last Saturday. They had 201 hardy souls fishing along the beach in all that rain and wind. Forty-two anglers caught 93 scoring fish, all bluefish, which is pretty good considering the miserable conditions.

In the Open Division, Kevin Trimble scored 227 points to take first place and $750. Second place and $500 went to John Pilcicki for his 218 points, and Sean Hull came in third with 121 points to take home $150. Stephen Amspacher took home $150 for his fourth-place finish with 118 points.

In the Women's Division, Erin Schuster had 46 points and finished first to win $250. In second place, Anita Chandler scored 33 points to take home $100, and in third place with 20 points was Stephanie Schields, who won $50.

The Kids Division had Joey Griffith take home a surf rod and reel for his 69 points. In second, Colton Nein with 24 points also won a rod and reel, while Liam Semzamici won a tackle box for third place with 17 points.  The big money goes to the person catching the largest fish and the person catching the largest bluefish. That was one person, Shaun Smith. He took home $1,000 for the largest fish caught during the tournament, a 36-inch bluefish, and the largest bluefish of the contest, the same 36-inch blue that was worth $1,770. The total for that one bluefish was $2,770. I certainly hope he bought Brandy something very special with some of that money.


Friends' Youth Fishing Tournament at pier May 20

The Friends of Cape Henlopen State Park will hold their annual Youth Fishing Tournament for ages 15 and under, from 8 to 11 a.m., Saturday, May 20, at the park fishing pier. Park entrance fee is $10. For more information or to register, go to

  • 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