Saltwater Fly Anglers hold pickerel tournament

April 12, 2019

The Saltwater Fly Anglers of Delaware held a pickerel tournament on April 6. The format was that all pickerel had to be caught on flies and released. Scoring was on overall length. Each two-person team would select the pond of their choice.

At the end of the day, the team of Loretta Smith and Roy Miller took first place with 21 pickerel totaling 352 inches. Jim Didonato and Jason Gillespy came in second with 21 pickerel for 322 inches. Ed Barry and Ted Moorlock had third place with five pickerel at 91.5 inches. Ted scored the largest pickerel of the day with a 24-inch monster. Roy Miller caught the largest bass at 13.75 inches.

Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing Funding

The Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing Funding met in Dover April 9 to go over the current expenditures of fishing license money as well as future projects. As always, every $1 of license money has been matched by $3 of federal money from the excise tax on fishing tackle.

In Sussex County, the big news is that the final plan for the new boat ramp at Millsboro Pond has been approved, a bid has been accepted and work will soon be underway. I don’t want to think of how many years it has taken to get this project this far, and when it is done, there will be more parking for boat trailers, and the ramp will be aligned so boats can be launched into deep water. A floating dock will be added, and the entire area will be handicap accessible.

One of the most popular fishing and boating spots in Delaware is Phillips Landing, where the Nanticoke River and Broad Creek come together. This area has been completely redone with new and better boat ramps, paved parking areas, new bulkheads and two kayak or canoe launch areas.

The biggest project still in the planning stage is a fishing pier in Dobbinsville. This is estimated to cost $1.5 million. The engineering plans should be done by fall.

The remaining money has been used to repair access locations, fix piers, add to the artificial reefs and do research to comply with management plans.

First Delaware flounder

On April 7, Rick’s Bait and Tackle reported the first Delaware-caught flounder of 2019. The angler reported catching two shorts and one keeper out of Indian River Bay.

I have also had reports of flounder caught behind Assateague Island, south of Ocean City, Md., and people have been catching flounder behind the Barrier Islands of Virginia for a couple of weeks.

If, like me, you have a small boat, now is the time to go flounder fishing. The fish will not remain in sheltered water very long, and once they move out into the ocean, we have to depend on the kindness of big boat owners to take us out there.

I fished Indian River Bay from the time I was a small boy until we moved to Virginia Beach in 1989. Of course, in those days we didn’t have the restrictions we have today, but catching 10 flounder in the morning before breakfast was not uncommon. My largest was an eight-pounder caught at the Old Duck Blind in 1973.

Today, just finding a keeper of 16.5 inches from June until the end of the season is quite a challenge. The water has become warmer, and the flounder have moved out and up the coast.

Now I do most of my flounder fishing in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal or the Broadkill River just because they are closer to my home. I have had some success, including a five-pounder in 2018, along with a couple of other keepers.

I figure we have until late May to get in our licks before the flounder hightail it out to cooler water. I hope to get after them this week.

Maryland cobia regs

The state of Maryland has set its cobia regulations for 2019. As we have mentioned before, the National Marine Fisheries Service has turned over management of cobia to the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission, which put out guidelines for the states to follow. Maryland has chosen to go with a one-fish-per-person bag limit and three fish per boat if there are three licensed anglers on the boat. The minimum size will be 40 inches.

Delaware is currently working on cobia regulations and will hold public hearings before making a final decision. I suspect we will go with the same regulations as Maryland.

A Delaware citation will be awarded for a cobia weighing 45 pounds or a release citation for one measuring 48 inches. Youth citations are 33.5 pounds or 42 inches.

  • 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

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