Ocean View man catches state-record cobia

September 14, 2018

The State of Delaware has a new state-record cobia. John Burbage set the record when he checked in a 79-pound, 6-ounce cobia at Hook ’em and Cook ’em last month. The big fish was spotted about a mile-and-a-half off Bethany Beach and ate a menhaden that John had snagged then cast to the cobia. This is the first year for cobia in the citation program run by the Division of Fish and Wildlife and supported by your fishing license money.

Massey’s Ditch dredging meeting

On Monday, Sept. 17, the Shoreline and Waterway Management Section of DNREC will hold an informational meeting from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the South Coastal Library, 43 Kent Ave., Bethany Beach. An informational meeting is different from a public hearing. At a public hearing, the agency involved is looking for input from the public before issuing a regulation. An informational hearing is set up to inform the public of a decision that has already been made. In this case, Massey’s Ditch has been scheduled for dredging, and the meeting will inform the public exactly when and where this dredging will occur.

Those of us who frequent the area between Rehoboth and Indian River bays are well aware of how bad the shoaling has been. Since the federal government stopped dredging state waters, it has been difficult to get funds to keep up with the constant shoaling not only at Massey’s Ditch, but also at Bowers Beach and other locations.

Last year, the Legislature doubled the cost of registering a boat and placed that money in a special fund to be used for dredging. This is the first project funded by that money.

Right now, the extra money raised by the permit increase is about $1.5 million a year. The estimate for maintaining all state waters is $3 million a year. We need a steady stream of funding from somewhere to make up the difference.

While the Delaware Department of Transportation has no responsibility when it comes to dredging waterways, it does collect all that tax money boaters pay to fill their tanks. Prying that money loose from DelDOT would be a Herculean task, but perhaps our good representatives and senators could find a way. 

After the storm

We have had some pretty bad fishing weather for the past week, with a big northeast blow Sunday. The first part of this week was not looking too good either. However bad it may be now, sooner or later the wind will drop out, the seas will settle down and once again boats will be running in the ocean and bay.

My friend Capt. John Nedelka on the Karen Sue out of Indian River Marina did run Tuesday. He said the seas were huge, but spaced far enough apart that he could make a decent headway without beating up the boat, the captain and the party too badly. They tried a few pots inshore, but no dolphin. Then they switched over to wreck fishing and caught 24 sea bass among four anglers.

Capt. John said the water temperature has dropped six degrees, which would explain the lack of dolphin inshore. Wes Townsend went out to pull his bass pots before the storm and said he only saw one or two small dolphin on his markers, which are farther offshore.

Right now, the beaches are closed, so it is hard to say what will be in the surf when they open. I think the fishing might be better, with kings, blues, spot and croaker available. It remains to be seen if we will see any big blues or rockfish later in the fall.

Fall flounder fishing produces some big doormats, but with the overall population in decline, they will be few and far between. My guess is the mouth of Delaware Bay on the same shoals that used to produce big rockfish could hold a few large flounder early in the run. After that, it will be the ocean bottom at the Old Grounds, B and A buoys if you want a shot at a final flounder.

Croaker have been around in decent numbers, and since they too breed in the ocean during the fall, I would expect to find them at the Croaker Canyon off the Old Coast Guard Station and around the Old Grounds, B and A buoys.

The inshore lumps may produce some tuna now that the water temperature has dropped. Chumming or chunking should work well, and trolling may also produce some action. Trolling the canyons should be red hot for marlin since they are schooling up and heading south. Tuna and dolphin should be there as well.

No one knows what will happen until it does, but these are my best guesses.

  • 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