We finally have fish in the bay and ocean

April 23, 2016

Finally, we have some fish in the bay, ocean and surf. As this is written, the weather looks good for the weekend, so let’s get out there and wet a line.

Big blues have been caught from the surf, but we are a long way from the once-in-a-lifetime event of 2015. Not to say it can’t happen again, just that the odds are not good.

Herring Point, Conquest Road and Three Rs Road are some of the locations where the blues have been found. Cut, fresh bunker has been the only bait I have heard of being used. I also had reports of kings and blowfish taken from the beach on bloodworms.

Broadkill Beach gave up the first black drum of the season along with at least one big blue. Not sure what bait was used, but would suspect either bunker or clams.

In the Upper Delaware Bay big rockfish have been caught from shore or from a boat. Cut bunker or bloodworms have been the most popular bait. Augustine down to Port Mahon has been productive for shore fishermen while the Bull Pen, Sunken Jetty, Yellow Can and the channel edge from Woodland Beach to Collins Beach have provided decent action for boaters.

Tog action improved in the ocean and bay. While there seem to be more shorts than keepers, most folks go home with a fair number of filets. Green crab has been the top bait with clams, shrimp and white leggers also finding favor with the tog.

White perch continue to bite in most of the tidal creeks and rivers. Bloodworms are the top perch bait. Small rockfish are mixed in with the perch. The same areas have seen some big catfish on bloodworms and cut bunker.

The ponds are beginning to see bass moving to their spawning beds. Crappie and pickerel are also on the move. Live minnows remain the top bait for all three species with soft plastics and crankbaits working on the bass.

Bill's Sport Shop Flea Market

Bill’s Sport Shop Flea Market has been rescheduled for Saturday, May 7, after the April date was rained out. The same rules apply. One parking space per person, no commercial vendors and first come, first served. If you have stuff to sell I recommend arriving very early to secure a space.

Recreational fishing funding

The Advisory Council on Recreational Fishing Funding met April 13 and heard reports on projects receiving funds from the general fishing license.

Of interest locally are improvements to the lighting at the Lewes Boat Ramp. The plan is to replace the current lights with LEDs that will be cheaper to maintain and use less power. Because the LEDs are directional, some will be aimed more toward the ramps, providing a safer situation for those loading or unloading in the dark.

The fishing pier at Cape Henlopen has been denied money from the fishing license fund because the park charges admission, and that is prohibited by federal rules. Someone in the Parks Division came up with a very inventive plan whereby they could use a figure that incorporates the estimated number of people who only pay to get in the park so they can fish on the pier. The feds said that the money collected from these folks could be used to receive matching federal dollars to repair the pier. Keep this in mind the next time some malcontent says government employees are all a bunch of drones just putting in time so they can collect a fat retirement check.

I stopped by the pier last Saturday and they appear to have the decking done about two-thirds of the way out to the end. There is still much to do, but with a break in the weather they should be finished before the end of May.

The boat ramp and parking lot at Millsboro Pond is scheduled for an upgrade. As we have mentioned before, the state does not own this pond and only has the current small parking lot and ramp to work with. The engineer feels he can change the layout a bit to make launching and retrieving much easier, put in a floating dock and add a few extra parking spots.

Finally, it looks like Delaware may be getting a fish-tagging program like they have in Virginia. As proposed, anglers would tag the fish then enter the information on their smart phones. If things keep moving ahead, we could be in the fish-tagging business by 2017.

I am very familiar with the Virginia program, and the information gathered there has been used determine the movements of saltwater fish. I also spoke with the gentleman who is trying to monitor the movement of weakfish, and he is very interested in any data the tagging program could generate.

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. Eric can be reached at