Thankful for Delaware State Parks

November 18, 2023

Thanksgiving is the time to give thanks for all the good things in our lives. As outdoors people, there are lots of good things we can be thankful for.

The first on my list would be Delaware State Parks, beginning with Brandywine Creek State Park in New Castle County and going all the way down to Cape Henlopen State Park, Delaware Seashore State Park and Fenwick Island State Park.

Just a short journey inland will find you in Trap Pond State Park where the Pocomoke River begins in a beautiful cedar forest. The quiet of Trap Pond is a far cry from the noise and excitement of the beaches along the ocean. This is kayak country, and the small boats are perfect for fishing the shallow water or just cruising among the trees.

I am very thankful that I can purchase a permit to drive on the state park beaches. I have been doing so since 1973, when I bought my first four-wheel-drive vehicle, a 1971 International Harvester Scout. In those days, I could have walked on, but today, in my dotage, being able to drive on is a necessity.

This may sound silly, but I am thankful that Delaware has a general fishing license. Unlike other states, when I go to launch my boat at any ramp, the cost is free. The ramps are kept in good condition and so are the parking lots. I don’t need a separate license to catch shellfish or to fish in freshwater because the folks who put our license together saw to it that everything was covered for one fee. The only exception is the trout stamp, and that money goes back to fund the trout program for the following year.

I am also glad we have very good fishing with lots of sea bass, a decent number of flounder, with sea trout or weakfish beginning to make a return to the glory days. Add to these standard fish the new species brought up here due to global warming. There are sheepshead, triggerfish and spadefish.

The offshore fishing has also been good. Plenty of tuna, from yellowfins to bigeyes, and the dolphin this year were abundant. Billfish were also in good supply. The White Marlin Open only had one qualifying fish, but the Mid-Atlantic Tournament out of Cape May, N.J., had numerous qualifying billfish.

No matter where you live in Delaware, or your station in life, there is some open land and water a short distance from your home. Even in Wilmington, there is the Brandywine River where you can fish or just relax by the water. Back in the 1950s, I fished in town for catfish while my stepdad and my mother went shopping on Market Street.

If you listen to the news, the whole world is going to heck in a handbasket. Stop and look around, and you will see a great deal more to be thankful for than to worry about.

Fishing report

When the weather lets the boats leave the dock, they find plenty of action in the ocean and bay. Right now, there are tog being caught in both locations from charter and head boats as well as private boats. The ocean has lots of sea bass plus a few flounder in the mix, and everything is being taken on clam, squid and cut bait.  If my experience on the Angler last week is any indication, jigs do not work any better than bait.  

Delaware Bay has seen some good tog action, with lots of small fish along with the occasional keeper. The Outer Wall and the Ice Breakers both give up tog on sand fleas and green crab.

Tog have also been caught at Massey’s Ditch and at the Coast Guard Wall on the same baits. Indian River Inlet continues to see tog taken from the rocks on sand fleas and green crabs, with lots of small fish along with a few keepers.

The big news is the arrival of larger striped bass at the end of the jetties. Just to prove that the oldies are still goodies, a white bucktail with a white worm is the hot lure for the big fish. That is the same setup I used back in the 1960s when I began to fish the jetties, and believe me, I was far from the first to use it. 

I have also had a report of large stripers caught inside the Three-Mile-Limit by boaters trolling tantum bucktail rigs. If so, this is the first time we have seen this action this early since Superstorm Sandy.


  • 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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