Request to limit drive-on beach access denied

March 4, 2017

A group calling themselves Beach Access Coalition has requested that surf-fishing vehicles be barred from the beach in front of their condominiums at Three Rs Road and Fenwick Island. This is not the first time such a request has been made, and in the past, the idea has been rejected.

Ray Bivens, director of Delaware State Parks, presented the request to the Delaware Mobile Surf Fishermen as well as several legislators, and the overwhelming response was negative. DMS members and others who heard about this situation responded with more than 40 phone calls and emails, with most opposing the idea.

On Tuesday afternoon, I received an email and phone call from Bivens informing me that the request from the Beach Access Coalition had been denied. He also informed the other folks who either called or emailed him on this issue.

In addition, the Division of State Parks will be placing signs at all access points that serve condo owners and renters, saying they are entering a state park and everyone who uses the facility should respect all other users. This is especially true for mobile surf fishermen. We have to be very careful not to do anything that might be construed to present a danger to walk-on users. This Beach Access Coalition is not going away. They will be looking for even the smallest event that they can blow out of proportion to force Division of State Parks to restrict surf-fishing vehicles.

In addition to the signs, the State Parks Division is requesting that all rental advertising reflect that the beach in front of the condos is a state park with multiple users.

While I am sure the Beach Access Coalition wouldn’t agree, I believe this is the way government should work. When an issue arises, the government should listen to all the folks impacted by the idea and then decide, based on the majority opinion, absent any opposing laws or science. I thank Bivens for making this issue public and I support his decision. 

Early season fishing report

It looks like we will have an early season for saltwater fishing. Right now, the water in the Delaware Bay and Atlantic Ocean is approaching the 50-degree mark when summer flounder begin to become active. The long-range forecast promises daytime highs above 50 degrees right up to the Ides of March, with the exception of this Friday and Saturday, when the daytime highs will be in the 40s. Saturday will be the coldest day, just in time for the opening of trout season.

I have had excellent reports of Boston mackerel caught very close to shore out of Virginia Beach. The action has been within 10 miles of Rudee Inlet, and the bite is as red hot as we remember from days gone by. The question is, will these fish make it to Delaware? The answer is, no one knows. All we can do is keep watching the fishing reports and hope for the best.

Back in the day of big Boston mackerel runs, we also had runs of big bluefish. The best of this action was around B Buoy and along the Shipping Channel. The past two years have seen big bluefish close to shore and in the Lower Bay. Here, too, your guess is as good as mine as to whether these fish will come back in 2017. 

And then we have our beloved rockfish. Last fall, they never showed up off the coast of Delaware, while they did provide one of the best runs ever along the New Jersey shore. So far this year, a few resident rockfish have been caught, including a 31-inch keeper taken from Indian River Inlet. Our spring run will begin when the rock head up the Delaware Bay to spawn in the Delaware River. Let’s hope for the best.

White and yellow perch have been caught out of the tidal rivers and creeks. The best of this remains on the western side of the county in the Nanticoke River and Broad Creek. Baits include minnows, grass shrimp, bloodworms and jigs. The local ponds give up bass, pickerel and crappie on minnows, shiners and worms.

Tog catching remains slow. I did see photos of big tog caught on the Morning Star out of Ocean City.

Outdoor show

On Saturday, March 11, there will be an outdoor show at the Harrington State Fairgrounds. The event will open at 8 a.m. and close at 4 p.m. According to the press release, there will be 70 vendors selling all sorts of outdoor equipment, from fishing hooks to pickup trucks. Several food trucks will be on site with a variety of luncheon dishes. Seminars will cover a number of subjects from training your dog to catching fish in the surf.

  • 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