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Lurefest is the best fishing show in the area

March 15, 2019

At 10 a.m., Saturday, March 30, the SaltFish online service will hold its annual Lurefest get-together at the Bowers Beach Fire House. This is the best fishing-related show in our area because you can meet and greet other local anglers, learn the latest news from Delaware’s Fish and Wildlife Division, pick up some good bargains from fishing tackle vendors, and stuff your face with the best food you have ever eaten.

Still, the best part of Lurefest is the kids’ raffle. All children get in free and each one receives a raffle ticket. When the raffle gets underway, lo and behold, every one of those raffle tickets is a winner! Talk about excitement!

There is also a raffle for adults. Unfortunately, this one is fixed. I know it is, because I never win.

To find out more about SaltFish and Lurefest, go to saltfish.com. You can order your tickets there.

Bluefish regulations

While I don’t have the final recreational regulations as of yet, it looks like the regulations for bluefish will remain the same in 2019 as they were in 2018. NOAA Fisheries has released the final rule for Atlantic bluefish in cooperation with the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council and the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. They are basically the same as 2018 with an additional 500,000 pounds of recreational quota transferred to the commercial quota for a total of 4 million pounds. No state exceeded its allocated quota for 2018, therefore no accountability measures need to be implemented.

Earlier this year, I was in the ACME store on Route 1 and was shocked to see bluefish filets selling for $12.95 per pound. I remember a time when you couldn’t give bluefish away, and now they were getting $12.95 the pound! I asked Wes Townsend what the dockside price was and he said maybe $1 or $1.10 per pound. Sounds like someone is cleaning up on seafood, and it sure as heck ain’t the guy catching it.

Trout restocking

The two downstate ponds, Newton near Greenwood and Tidbury in Dover, were to be restocked with trout March 14. The weather for Friday, March 15, is supposed to be warm with thunderstorms, but if you can go early in the day, you should be ahead of the rain. The Saturday after the restocking should not be as crowded as opening day, and anglers will have a bit more elbow room.

The creeks upstate in New Castle County will open at 7 a.m., Friday, April 6. If you have the Delaware Fishing Guide, it says the opening time is 7:30 a.m., but that has changed. I will hope for milder weather for the April opening, but I have seen it snow on that day.

Flounder regulations

It would appear the summer flounder recreational fishing regulations will remain the same in 2019 as they were in 2018. Delaware will continue with a 16.5-inch minimum size, a four-fish bag limit and a season that runs from Jan. 1 to Dec. 31. Maryland and Virginia will also share these same regulations.

If you recall, New Jersey went out of compliance in 2018, but the secretary of commerce allowed them to escape unscathed, so they will have their own regulations. Those have not been set as of yet, but it looks like they will be the same as in 2018.

There is no question that global warming has increased the water temperature in the ocean, and this has caused flounder to move east and north. The minimum size along the New Jersey oceanfront is 18 inches and the bag limit is three fish. While we in Delaware struggle to find 16.5-inch flounder, anglers to our north toss back fish well over 17 inches. This situation is unlikely to improve anytime soon, so we must deal with the hand we are dealt.

Fishing report

Tog remain the target of boats fishing the ocean, and when they can get out, they are finding some big fish. I have seen photos of tog to 18 pounds in the past week. I have also observed an interesting trend. Quite a few fishermen are releasing big female tog so they can spawn and keep the population growing. Capt. Monty Hawkins on the Morning Star out of Ocean City ran a tog-tagging trip recently, releasing fish to 27 inches. His anglers did keep one tog each for the cooler, but tagged and released everything else.

White perch have been the mainstay for the landlocked angler. They have been caught from just about all the tidal rivers and creeks, with bloodworms and grass shrimp the top baits. Oyster Rocks, Petersfield Ditch and the Broadkill Ditch have been some of the better locations.

  • 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 Eburnle@aol.com.