Fishing good when wind and seas allow

January 28, 2017

Tog fishing has been very good when the wind and seas allow boats to sail. Limit catches were made from Lewes and Indian River as well as from Ocean City, Md., and Virginia Beach, Va. In addition to good numbers of tog, the size of some of the fish has been excellent. Remember, the current world-record tog was caught out of Ocean City last winter.

One of the best tog trips I have had was on Super Bowl Sunday with Capt. John Nedelka on the Karen Sue out of Indian River. Three or four of us caught a limit, and we were back home long before the game began.

In addition to the tog, three hardy anglers ran from Indian River down to the Norfolk Canyon, where they caught a 204-pound swordfish. This was a daytime catch, which, in my opinion, is much more difficult than catching a sword at night. During the day, swordfish hold on the bottom in 1,000 feet or more. Just getting a bait into the strike zone is a major project, and cranking a big fish up from that depth is not for those with weak hearts. Congratulations to Chip Graves, Bill Low and Matt Baker for their outstanding catch.

Closer to home, the local ponds are seeing some bass, crappie and pickerel. Live shiners or minnows remain the top baits. Lures, such as jigs and spoons, must be worked very slowly to tempt the cold-water fish.

The tidal rivers and creeks hold white and yellow perch. Earthworms and small minnows are the top producers, while a shad dart or crappie jig dressed with a small minnow and fished under a bobber can also be effective.

Fishing and hunting shows

On Feb. 4, there will be two local shows of interest to fishermen and hunters. The Fishing Expo will take place at the Laurel Firehouse from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. I have attended this show in the past, and there will be a lot of folks selling used equipment or stuff they have made at home. In either case, you should be able to pick up some good equipment at a reasonable price.

Also Feb. 4, the Delaware Vintage Hunting/Fishing Memorabilia Show and Sale will take place in Milford at 115 N. Washington St., the home of the Reagan/Watson Auction Building. The hours are 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. I have not been to this show, but I suspect there will be some antique fishing and hunting stuff along with some newer equipment. Admission here is $4.

Food should be available at both locations.

Delaware Sport Fishing Tournament

As we mentioned in an earlier article, Delaware will make some changes to the Sport Fishing Tournament. The biggest change will be the elimination of patches, to be replaced by pins. These pins will be awarded to those who catch a citation fish in either salt or freshwater. Pins were awarded prior to the early 1980s, when they were replaced by patches. Now the Fish and Wildlife Division has decided to go back to pins.

Four types of pins will be available. One for a freshwater capture, one for a freshwater release, one for a saltwater capture and one for a saltwater release. Any additional citation-qualifying fish will be awarded a certificate depicting the species and its measurements.

The species depicted on the pins will change every year, and the year of the catch will also be on the pin. Each year anglers can receive four different pins and as many catch or catch-and-release certificates as they can amass.

Also new for 2017 will be the Elite Angler Award. To qualify for this, an angler must catch five different citation-worthy species with no more than two live-release awards. This includes fresh and saltwater fish.

Once you qualify for the Elite Angler Award, you cannot receiver another. This is a once-in-a-lifetime award, however, you may continue to receive pins and certificates for additional catches. 

Two new species have been added to the citation program. Cobia have been taken in Delaware for several years, and in 2017 they will be eligible for the tournament. To qualify, a cobia must weigh at least 45 pounds or, for a release, the fish must measure 48 inches. There have been some major changes to the federal plan for cobia, and I would not be surprised to see even more in 2017. Be sure you know the rules before bringing one of these fish to the dock.

Snakeheads are an invasive species, and now you can earn a tournament pin for catching and killing one of these fish. Any size will qualify so long as it is dead. Information including weight and length as well as the location of the catch will be used by DNREC to monitor the species.

  • 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