Cold weather has fishermen dreaming of the Keys

February 4, 2017

While waterfowl hunters still have some season left, most fishermen are pretty much restricted to watching outdoor TV shows and dreaming they too were in the Florida Keys. Tog season will last through March, but long periods of nasty weather make for extended spells when fishing is impossible. Freshwater fishing is possible in even the worst weather, but for folks like me who no longer enjoy freezing to death alongside a pond or creek, it will take much-improved weather conditions before I spend more than five minutes outside.

A big part of any fishing or hunting trip is kibitzing with friends before and after the adventure. If you cut out the actual trip, you can still find venues where the kibitzing goes on unabated.

Fly tying

Kibitzing is the main product at the weekly fly tying session of the Delaware Saltwater Fly Fishing Club. They meet every Saturday between 9 a.m. and noon at Lewes Harbour Marina.

As much as I enjoy kidding these guys, they have one of the most active groups of fishermen I have ever seen. Their monthly meetings are very well attended as are these fly tying gatherings. On top of that, all of them are more than happy to help novices get started.

During milder weather, the club has fishing trips in the evenings along the beach from Lewes to the ferry wall.

The Saturday morning group also brings more food than twice that many people can eat. Most of it is gedunk, and not at all healthy, but then again a quick look around the room will reveal not too many health nuts in attendance.

The club welcomes ladies, young folks and anyone who would like to learn more about fly fishing.

Outdoor shows

As mentioned last week, there will be two outdoor shows in Delaware this Saturday. The Laurel Firehouse will host a Fishing Expo, and the Delaware Vintage Hunting/Fishing Memorabilia Show and Sale will be held in Milford at the Reagan/Watson Auction Building.

Ocean City Boat Show

The Ocean City Seaside Boat Show will be held at the convention center Feb. 17-19. Anyone in the market for a new boat or boating accessory will do well to attend this show. Most, if not all, of the local boat dealers will be there with good buys on new boats, motors and trailers. The dealers will also have used boats to offer, either trade-ins or brokerage boats.

Thinking about upgrading your electronics package? There will be dealers that can hook you up with the latest gadgets for finding fish and finding your way home.

Flea market

On the same weekend, the Pasadena Sportfishing Group Flea Market will be held at the Earleigh Fire Hall off of Route 2 in Pasadena, Md. The market opens Saturday and Sunday at 8 a.m. and if years past are any indication, there will be a very long line Saturday morning waiting to get inside. I usually arrive between 9 and 10 a.m., after the line has dissipated. The market closes at 2 p.m. on both days.

The big attraction is some of the best deals you will ever find on fishing and boating tackle. This is where I stock up on a season’s supply of sinkers from two guys who pour their own and bring everything to the show. I’m not saying they have every style in every weight, but they come darn close.

There are at least a half dozen guys who make MOJOs and parachutes for rockfish trolling, and they too will be selling at a very good price. Top-bottom rigs, hooks, leaders, snaps, swivels and almost everything you will ever need to go fishing will be on display including new and used rods and reels.

There is not as much boating equipment as fishing stuff, but last year I was able to purchase a new swivel seat for my boat for $10. Considering the seat that broke set me back $70, I felt I made a pretty good deal.

Then there are the roast beef sandwiches. Not to take anything away from our scrapple and egg on white bread or those wonderful oyster fritters, but these are the best roast beef sandwiches in the world. Lathered up with horseradish and mustard, they will fill your belly while cleaning out your sinuses.  

It only coats $5 to get into the show and all proceeds go toward club activities, such as taking kids fishing. It is about an hour-and-a-half drive, but with three or four good fishing buddies in the car, the time will pass very quickly.

Finally, there is the Saltwater Fishing Expo March 17-19 at the Garden State Exhibit Center in Somerset, N.J. A great show with lots of neat stuff at rock-bottom prices.

  • 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