Global warming is not a myth

September 19, 2020

Some of my friends say they don’t believe in global warming. Unfortunately, global warming is not like religion, where you can believe or not believe. Global warming is a fact. The planet is getting warmer. The oceans are getting warmer. Fish are reacting to this by moving to areas that suit their preferred water temperature.

Most fish are cold-blooded animals, so they can’t keep their blood warm internally. They have to live in water that suits their body temperature, or they will die. A recent study on the movement of black sea bass showed the main body of fish moving north to keep the cooler water they need around their body.

Over the past 70 years that I have been fishing in Delaware, I have seen species move into our waters that we never had before and others move out. We once had a winter cod fishery that was good enough for charter boats to target them on wrecks and run tub trawls as well. It has been a while since a cod showed up in a Delaware report.

On the plus side, we now have triggerfish, spadefish and sheepshead that we never had before. The appearance of these fish is because our waters are warming enough to allow them to expand their range.

And how about the appearance of dolphin on the inshore grounds? These fish are caught as close as the Delaware Lightship Buoy with a few scattered inshore as close as A Buoy.

I never lose sight of the fact that the ocean is a dynamic body of water. It is constantly moving, mixing, changing, rising and falling. Warm currents like the Gulf Stream and cold currents like the Labrador affect the temperature of the water and bring all sorts of life along the way. Wind can move the water as well as stir up all sorts of life from the top to the bottom.

These are temporary effects. The overall warming of the ocean continues to climb, and there appears to be no end in sight.

While this will change our fishing, it will also change the coastline. As the water warms, ice caps will melt, the seas will rise and barrier islands will go under water. This will not be the first time. If you have ever watched a water well being dug in Sussex County, you may have noticed all the seashells that come up during the operation. That’s right, Sussex County and most of the entire Eastern Shore were once under the sea.

Our use of fossil fuels and other carbon-producing processes may speed up the warming, but I have a feeling the Earth doesn’t much care what we puny humans do; it will keep up the way it has for the past few billion years. The question is, will there still be humans here to see the results? 

Delaware Fall Surf-Fishing Classic

Once again, Old Inlet Bait and Tackle will sponsor the Delaware Fall Surf-Fishing Classic. It will be held Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 26 and 27, on the beaches at Delaware Seashore and Fenwick Island state parks. Fishing hours are 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, and 7 a.m. to noon, Sunday. Entry fees are $40 per adult and $15 for kids 14 years of age and under.

The largest fish caught during the tournament will be worth $1,000. There is a Bluefish Calcutta with a $10 entry fee and a winner-take-all payout for the largest blue. The highest-scoring adult will win $800 and a beautiful bronze trophy. Second and third will also win bronze trophies plus $600 and $400, respectively. The kids division will pay out some very nice fishing tackle and trophies.

Cobia season is closed

Delaware’s very first cobia season closed Sept. 15. I know several cobia were caught before we actually had a season and more were taken after the season opened. The abundance of menhaden in the nearshore ocean certainly helped bring the cobia in range of Delaware boats.

Not sure how many folks actually targeted cobia, but if cobia numbers in our area continue to increase, I expect we will see more boats with makeshift towers looking for these fish on the surface. In Virginia Beach, there are lots of boats that were never designed for towers that now carry them. As you might expect, a certain number of these do capsize.

I had a decent amount of luck catching cobia when I ran charters out of Virginia Beach, and I did not do any sight fishing and never had a tower on my boat. Chumming was my technique and it worked very well. I chummed with bunker oil and cat food and baited with cut bunker and live eels.

  • 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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