No luck on first day of trout season

March 11, 2017

Last Saturday was the opening day for Delaware’s freshwater trout season. As my luck would have it, the outside temperature was in the low 20s and the wind was howling at 15 to 20 knots. Nevertheless, I set my alarm for zero dark thirty and laid out my finest cold-weather inner and outer wear.

When the alarm went off, I asked myself if I really loved a trout that much, and self answered, “Hell no!” Two hours later, I was still snuggled under several layers of warm blankets, but my conscience was getting the better of me, so I got out of bed, ate a bowl of hot oatmeal and, after donning many layers of Gore-Tex, cotton and nylon, I headed out the door. Boy, it was still cold!

I stopped at the Royal Farms in Ellendale for a big cup of hot coffee and arrived at Newton Pond around 0930. I stayed in the nice warm truck until my coffee was gone, then reluctantly ventured out into the cold.

While finishing my coffee, I kept a watch on my fellow anglers in hopes of locating a hot spot where trout were committing suicide. No such location was immediately apparent. In fact, I did not see a single fish pulled from the near-freezing water.

I finally screwed up my courage, what there was of it, and exited the truck. I spoke with several anglers hoping to find someone who had caught a trout, but my quest proved fruitless.

Moving around the pond, I spoke with several more fishermen and all had the same sad story. I did learn that several fish were caught at 0700 when the season opened, but nothing since then.

I must give credit to all those fishermen who stuck it out for hours in sub-freezing weather with a strong wind that lowered the feel-like temperature close to zero. They are far more dedicated than I.

After an hour or so at the pond, I had seen enough to convince me that the prospect of catching a few trout was not worth the effort or discomfort. The weather for this weekend does not look any better, with cold temperatures and perhaps snow Sunday. I will be back out to Newton Pond before the end of March, but only if the weather and fishing improve.


On Saturday, March 25, between 1000 and 1600, the good folks at Saltfish are holding their 17th Lurefest. This event began as a group of friends who met at a farm near Bowers Beach and has grown to a size that caused it to move to the Bowers Beach Fire Hall. Not only has the number of people attending the event grown, but so have the number of seminars and other events. Top among these events is the Kid’s Raffle. Started by the late Bob Jones with a great deal of assistance from his wife Karen, the raffle gives away a prize to every child who attends. The cost is free.

The adult raffle does cost $20 in advance or $25 at the door and includes admission. This raffle is held at the end of the event and offers many valuable and a few less valuable prizes. Over the years, I have won a stainless steel rod rack and a beautiful pair of rubber gloves. One of the most sought-after prizes is a trip on the charter boat Dana Lynn. This prize is the last one drawn, and all previous winning tickets are put back in the bin so everyone has a chance to win.

Did I mention the food? Well, the amount is staggering and the quality is comparable to the best homemade you have ever eaten. That’s because all the food is homemade by the members. There will be barbecue, all sorts of wild game and fish, gooey deserts, hot dogs, hamburgers and chili.

In order to attend this event, you must be a Saltfish member. It is easy and free to join. Just go to and follow the directions.

I believe once you join Saltfish, you will find the site useful and very accurate. I check it almost every day for fishing reports and discussions, plus the latest marine forecast. The guys who run the site keep it free of politics and stupid feuds between members. 

Fishing report

I wish I had better news, but the water temperature is still in the mid-40s, so most saltwater fish are still in their winter mode. Freshwater fish are much more active, except for the trout I tried to catch last Saturday.

The last word I had on the mackerel off Virginia Beach was the wind and cold kept everyone tied to the dock last weekend, so they may still be there.

  • 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