Warm weather means early spring cleaning

February 8, 2019

This week’s good weather inspired me to clean out my office and garage. This is something I haven’t done in years. Since almost everything in both locations is either related to fishing, work, boating or tools, they all fall under my responsibility.

It is amazing what you find when you move years of junk. The first treasure was an electric screwdriver that I had given up for lost. It was under a couple of small coolers and a jigsaw in an old plastic garbage can I once used for crushed soda cans. When the price of cans fell to the point where I lost money just driving to the junk yard, I gave up and put them in the recycling bin.

The closet in my office gave up the gaff hook for the flying gaff in the attic. I hadn’t used that thing in a very long time, but every time I go to the attic and see the handle I wonder where the hook could be. Now I know.

A few years after we moved back to Delaware from Virginia Beach, I put most of my fishing tackle in plastic boxes with labels so I could grab what I needed depending on the type of fishing I planned for the day. I think that was in 2002 or 2003 and I haven’t touched my system since. It will get a complete overhaul before I am done.

As far as my rods, reels and line, I always keep them in tip-top shape. I do have a couple of rods that need some work, and I hope to get that done by the end of the month.

The most surprising thing was the amount of junk I was able to toss. The recycling bin was completely full with old paperwork from my office. I had notes from meetings that happened more than 10 years ago. The number of old magazines and catalogs was beyond belief.

The same thing with fishing tackle. That really neat-looking lure I bought 10 years ago that has never been wet should go into the trash or at least to the thrift store where some other gullible fisherman will buy it and keep it for another 10 years.

I do have one weakness. I hate to throw away old plugs. When the hooks get rusty, I put them in a box and plan to replace the originals with new hooks, and I have actually done a few in the past. The problem is the stock of old plugs keeps growing faster than the number of repaired ones, so I am always behind. Perhaps this is the year I will finally catch up.

Modern Fish Act

The passage of the Modern Fish Act by the U.S. Congress and signed by the president is the end of a very long road and is proof that recreational fishing has finally received the recognition that it deserves from the U.S. government. Many sportfishing groups worked a long time to bring this law to Congress, and the Morris-Deal Commission, named for Johnny Morris, founder and CEO of Bass Pro Shops, and Scott Deal, president of Maverick Boats, recommended many of the positive parts of this law.

Without getting into a lot of government mumbo jumbo, this law will finally bring better understanding of the economic importance of recreational fishing to coastal communities and create much better data collection of recreational catches. Many federal fishery managers regarded saltwater recreational fishing as just a sport and commercial fishing as a business.  Thanks to the Modern Fish Act, that perception will finally change.

Fishing report

Big tog continue to be caught out of Lewes, Indian River and Ocean City. The last cold spell dropped the water temperature and made for a slow bite, but when a fish hit, it was usually a big one.

Our local creeks and spillways should see some yellow perch action soon. The head of the Broadkill in Milton is always a good bet.

The best fishing has been the sea bass bite in Virginia. Friends have come back with boat limits of jumbos plus big hake. As mentioned last week, you do need a free sea bass permit from the Virginia Marine Resources Commission and you must notify them before leaving on a sea bass trip so one of their staff can meet your boat when you return. According to my friend, the VMRC personally checked a few of their fish and thanked them for cooperating in the program.

Rom Whittaker on the Release out of Hatteras Inlet has been jigging up good numbers of big blackfin tuna. The multitude of sharks get their share of hooked fish, but anglers still end the day with more than enough to take home.

  • 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