It's time to buy licenses, registration and tags

January 5, 2013

Happy new year to everyone, and now get out your cash, checks or credit cards. That’s right; it is time to buy your 2013 fishing license, boat registration and surf-fishing vehicle tags.

The general fishing license and boat registration are available online from the Delaware Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control at You can also purchase both documents from tackle shops and/or boat dealers. I buy my surf-fishing permit from the Cape Henlopen State Park office at the entrance to the park. The permits are also available at Delaware Seashore State Park. If you fish in Delaware Bay, it is good idea to have a New Jersey fisherman identification number. They are free and available online at

Fishing was slow over the holidays due to lack of participation and windy weather. The beginning of the new year has brought better conditions, and I expect to hear about some successful tog and sea bass trips this week. Rockfish are still a possibility at Indian River Inlet, but I fear the surf bite has passed.

Rockfish have been caught off the coast of Virginia Beach by trollers pulling plugs, spoons and Mojos. Some of my friends down there are hoping for a repeat of last year’s bluefin tuna run, but nothing but rockfish so far.

Delaware Bass Federation

The Delaware Bass Federation has been around for a long time and in 2012, some members won the Mid-Atlantic Division Championship Tournament held on the Potomac River in September. The winning team consisted of Brian LaClair, Robert Smith, Ronald Littleton, Neil Miller, Fabian Rodriguez, Scott Hass, Brian Barnes, Ray O’Neil, Butch VanDrunen, Jason Vaughn, Jamie Foy, Greg Alexander and Ron Horton. The top two anglers from the team, LaClair and Smith, will move on to the 2013 Federation National Championship sponsored by the National Guard at Grand Lake in Grove, Okla., April 18-23.

If you have ever watched a bass tournament on TV, you have some idea of how these contests work. Anglers fish in pairs, with each one trying to catch the heaviest limit of bass every day. At the end of the tournament, the angler with the heaviest combined weight wins the top prize.

While luck is always a factor in fishing, the winners at bass tournaments have the ability to find the fish in strange waters, can discover the pattern the fish are keying on and are able to imitate that pattern no matter how it may change during the day. Like all good anglers, they understand their quarry and the environment in which it lives.

The big difference between the national pros and our local bass fishermen is the money. If you can be successful on the pro circuit, you can become a millionaire. Success at the federation level gives you bragging rights and a chance to be recognized by a big-time sponsor. Many pros began fishing local tournaments until they were good enough to move up the food chain.

I covered a few B.A.S.S. and Red Man tournaments over the years and I will say those were some of the most down-to-earth athletes I have encountered. They are never too busy to meet the public and will sign just about anything their fans shove into their hands. You may or may not like Jimmy Houston, but that man can work a crowd better than any politician. He treats every fan like a long-lost friend, and if he ever decides to run for office in Oklahoma, he would become the first-ever professional bass fishing governor of that state.

The Delaware Bass Federation not only fishes in tournaments, but its members do a great deal of public service. The clubs participate in conservation efforts to clean and improve waterways and they hold several youth events each year.

It does not take a fast bass boat or a lot of money to compete at the federation level. A jon boat with an electric motor will do the job, although you will be a bit undergunned on the tidal rivers. Even there, you can get by with one of the less-expensive aluminum boats.

If you enjoy bass fishing and would like to learn more about the Delaware Bass Federation, email or go to