A nice warm day for fishing in Milton

March 3, 2018

Tuesday morning dawned bright and calm, and because I have been locked up like a common thief since December, I just had to go fishing. I chose to try the public dock at Milton, where I have had some luck in the past. I also saw a nice white perch caught there last Friday.

I figured high tide would be sometime around noon, and that is when I arrived. There was one other angler fishing nearby, but I didn’t see him catch anything.

I set up with a small circle hook baited with a good, old earthworm under a bobber. This I cast out before sitting down in my beach chair with a cup of coffee. The sun was warm, the coffee was hot and life was good.

Several casts later my coffee was gone, but the sun was still warm and I began to notice a few signs of spring. There were three mallard drakes following a hen, several turtles were sunning on a log and the trees were beginning to bud. While I was watching the ducks, turtles and trees, a mystery fish pulled my bobber underwater. By the time Old Quick Draw realized what was happening, the mystery fish was gone.

Two more hopeful anglers showed up and tried the same sort of rigs, but they didn’t do any better than I. After a couple of hours with no further sign of life, I packed it up for the day. I will be back again next week because I know sooner or later the fish will show up.

Fly tying

The Delaware Saltwater Fly Fishing Club is meeting every Saturday morning from 9 a.m. to noon at Lewes Harbour Marina. This is a great bunch of folks who enjoy nothing more than welcoming new men, women, boys and girls who would like to learn more about their sport.

You don’t have to be a member or even a fly fisherman to stop by and get a lot of information on fly fishing in local waters. For those like me who have very limited artistic skills, you may be amazed at how easy it is to tie basic flies and how realistic some of the more talented tiers can make their products.

And did I mention all the goodies they have just sitting on the counter waiting to be eaten?

Reef update

Late last week, Jeff Tinsman sent me an update on the artificial reefs in Delaware Bay. Norfolk Dredging has completed their final deployment at Reef Site 6. They dropped a total of 108 deployments from hopper barges with a total of 280,000 cubic yards and a total weight of 661,500 tons of rock from the Delaware River. This is seven times the amount of all the concrete deployed on all reef sites since the artificial reef program began in 1995. The best part is it was all free.

Cape Henlopen Point

Spring must be getting closer. Baseball spring training has begun, and Cape Henlopen State Park has closed the Point to all human intrusion. This is done to protect nesting birds, such as the piping plover and skimmer. Yes, I know it is a pain in the butt not to have the Point available for fishing all summer, but by closing the beach to human traffic, we can dodge having the federal government close even more of our public land.

They will probably close some more beach once the birds arrive and build their nests. Piping plovers are threatened in Delaware, but they have better populations in other states. It is unlikely we will see the threatened status in Delaware removed anytime soon.

Trout season

Tomorrow, March 3, is the opening day of Delaware trout season. As usual, two ponds will be stocked with trout – Tidbury Pond in Dover and Newton Pond near Greenwood. Fishing can begin at 7 a.m.

I wish I could give you good advice, but I have not had much luck at Newton Pond over the years. I have caught one or two trout on worms, but have never been close to a limit.

You will need a Delaware general fishing license and a trout stamp. I wouldn’t try to get away without either one since I am almost certain there will be a few enforcement officers on site.

Fishing report

I have not heard of any successful trips out of any Delaware ports since December. The cold snap early in January dropped the water temperatures in the bay and ocean into the upper 20s and low 30s. There has been some recovery, with the bay and ocean now in the low 40s, but it is going to take some more warm days and nights before we see those low 50s we need to get the fish on the move.

  • 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