More on the beach access issue

October 2, 2021

In a letter to the editor, Brian Moran, vice chair of the Delaware Surfrider Foundation, agrees with points made in the Sept. 3 editorial in the Cape Gazette. He thinks that the surf-fishing permit prohibits recreational activities, other than surf-fishing, on many parts of Delaware State Parks beaches. It is obvious that Mr. Moran has never been on the beaches at any of the Delaware State Parks where surf-fishing permits are required to drive on the beach. If he had, he would have seen families playing various games, from football to catch to cornhole (who ever named that game?) as well as surf-fishing.

He also states that he would like to have more parking lots available to make it easier for walk-on access to the many miles of beach that currently can only be accessed by four-wheel-drive vehicles. He does not specify exactly which section of pristine habitat (paradise) he would like to tear up to build those parking lots.

He does see through Mr. Turnbaugh’s thinly disguised plot to clear out the area in front of his condo so he doesn’t have to share the beach with those disgusting surf fishermen. The Surfrider Foundation supports a long list of beach activities, including surf-fishing, and on that we agree.

Once again, I believe we must keep the surf-fishing requirement for drive-on surf-fishing permits even though we all know many of the owners of 18,000 currently permitted vehicles are not what anyone would define as hardcore surf fishermen. The surf-fishing requirement, along with the equipment requirement, allows the park rangers to control who is on the beach and how they behave.

Old Inlet Fall Classic

Over last weekend, Old Inlet Bait and Tackle held its 24th Fall Classic Surf Fishing Tournament. They had 289 anglers, including 38 women and 16 kids. They caught more than 400 scoring fish, including seven big red drum and several flounder to 18 inches. Most of the scoring fish were kings and spot.

In the Open Division, John Anderson came in first with 242 points. He won $800 plus a beautiful bronze trophy. In second place was Acie Mankins with 235 points, taking home $600 and a bronze trophy. Morty Morton was in third place with 184 points, and he won $400 and a bronze trophy. In fourth was Scott Aiken Jr. He won $200, and an Okuma rod and reel. These bronze trophies are beautiful and highly prized by surf fishermen.

The Women’s Division was led by Donna Guttridge with 108 points. She won $200 and the coveted Nicole Born Memorial Trophy. In second was Deb Wiechardt with 92 points. She took home $100, a trophy, and a rod and reel. In third was Monica Bayless with 77 points. Her winnings included $50 and a tackle box.

The Kids Division was won by Ethan Farmer with 96 points. He won a surf rod and reel plus a trophy. In second was Rilynn Moore with 58 points. That was good for a jetty rod and reel, and a trophy. In third was Avery Bradly with 33 points. That was good for a boat rod and reel, and a trophy. Aiden Sparano was fourth with 28 points, earning him a reel, while Brody Quinn came in fifth with 13 points and won a tackle box.

The Grand Slam Prize for catching the most species went to Donna Guttridge, who managed to land three scoring species. She won an Okuma rod and reel.

The largest fish of the tournament was a 48-inch red drum caught by Jamie Logan and worth $1,000.

The Bluefish Calcutta is always the big-money fish, and this year was no different. Jeff Kirby landed a 17-inch bluefish and walked away with $2,560.

I want to thank Clark Evans for sending me the results of the tournament. It seems the surf-fishing that has been so poor all summer turned on just in time for the tournament. Let’s hope it stays on for the Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen’s Tournament Oct. 8-10.

Fishing report

As you can see, surf-fishing improved greatly last week. The biggest surprise was the appearance of large red drum in the surf. There have been over a dozen channel bass exceeding 40 inches landed from the beach during the last week. This is an unheard-of number in Delaware. I have asked around, and no one has any secret bait or technique. If I were going to target these fish, I would buy several blue crabs, cut them in half, and fish each half on a fish-finder rig.

Flounder and sea bass are in good supply at the in-shore wrecks and reefs. Tuna fishing is excellent in the canyons.


  • 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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