Joe Morris Memorial Canal Flounder Tournament moved to June 5

May 15, 2020

The date for the Joe Morris Memorial Canal Flounder Tournament has been changed from May 29 to June 5. Amanda Morris made this change to conform to Gov. John Carney’s reopening plans that should allow for a more relaxed situation during the contest. While the tournament draws a good number of anglers, they do not all arrive at the same time, so a larger crowd is not a problem. However, there is a good chance of more than 10 folks showing up for the awards ceremony, so social distancing will still be observed.

The rules have not changed from 2019. The entry fee remains $40 per angler with $20 going to the Pancreatic Cancer Action Network. Fishing time is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and all fish must be caught on hook and line by the registered angler. The limits are the Rehoboth Bay entrance to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to the Roosevelt Inlet entrance and up the Broadkill River to Oyster Rocks Road. All flounder must be weighed by 4 p.m. on the Lewes Harbour Marina clock. The fish must be fresh and not frozen or in any way preserved. If you catch a possible winner, it is a good idea to bring it to the scales as quickly as possible because in case of a tie, the fish weighed first will take the higher prize.

Tournament T-shirts are on sale right now at the marina. I got mine and you should get yours as soon as you can.

Black sea bass

Friday, May 15, is the opening day for black sea bass season. I did not hold one of the Golden Tickets for a ride on the Angler out of Ocean City, so I will be sitting at home. Several charter and head boats plan to run out of Delaware ports even though as of Wednesday, Gov. Carney has not granted permission for these businesses to operate. From what I have read on their websites, all plan to keep their parties small and practice social distancing.

Private boats may sail at their own risk. No mention of family members only as we have for surf-fishing vehicles. With the marine weather forecast calling for three- to five-foot seas, smaller boats may find the going a bit bouncy. I wish everyone good luck.

Surf fishing

It appears that surf fishing is getting better even as the weather remained pretty bad. Black drum were caught from the bay and ocean beaches on sand fleas and clams. Not sure when these fish acquired a taste for sand fleas, but last year I fished for black drum with the biggest, stinkiest surf clams I could find, and they turned them down and ate those tiny little sand fleas that everyone else had. Word is this year they are behaving themselves again and eating clams as they have done for eons, but will also take sand fleas. Using one-half of a female hard crab is another good bait.

The first kings have been caught at Fenwick Island along with an 11-inch croaker. Bloodworms or bloodworm FishBites should work on either of these fish. A 16-inch trout was reported from the same beach, but no information on bait or rig. Last year I caught a lot of trout from the beach on FishBite bloodworms or clams.

Small rockfish have been reported up and down the beach on a variety of baits. These are 12- to 15-inch fish and must be released.

Larger rockfish in the 28- to 35-inch slot have been caught at night from Indian River Inlet. Plastic shads from Tsunami, Storm and Sassy Shad have been the most productive lures. A few rock over the 35-inch maximum were also reported from the inlet.

Tog fishermen at the Inlet have been finding the occasional keeper. Sand fleas and green crab are the best baits.

Boat fishing

The cold and windy weather certainly cut down on boating, but on those rare days when the wind let up, fish were caught.

The best news has been the black drum run in Delaware Bay. I had good reports of drum to 40 pounds at the Coral Beds with hard crab the best bait. Another report of multiple drum caught on clams off Broadkill Beach. Both of these locations are a short run from boat ramps at Slaughter Beach or Lewes.

The Lewes and Rehoboth Canal has produced a few more keeper flounder. Shiners and pink Gulp! have been the top producers so far.

The Outer Wall saw a few tog caught on sand fleas and green crab when it was safe to toggle off the rocks. That operation is dangerous on a calm day, let alone when seas are running over three feet.


  • 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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