By Eric Burnley Sr.*
Updated: Feb. 15, 2018
DELAWARE BAY Still too cold in the bay for any meaningful fishing. Scattered reports of anglers trying for perch in the tidal creeks and rivers with a very few finding even the smell of success.
INSHORE OCEAN I did see a photo on Facebook from Chris Vann who caught a 17-pound tog while fishing on a boat out of Ocean City. At least one Indian River charter boat plans to run for tog on Saturday. Sea bass and tog have been caught out of 120 to 140 feet of water by anglers fishing from Virginia Beach. Sea bass season is open in Virginia until the end of February.
INDIAN RIVER INLET Still nothing from the Inlet. A report of a few yellow perch from tidal creeks that feed the inland bays.
SURF FISHING No report of anyone even trying to fish the beach.
FRESHWATER Had a few reports of folks fishing the spillways and catching a few perch and pickerel on natural bait. Worms, grass shrimp and minnows have been the best offerings.
FISHING RODS The fishing rods your grandfather used have long been replaced by much lighter and more powerful products. I have my grandfather’s rods hanging on the wall over my desk and can easily see just how primitive they are. Made of bamboo, they had gathering guides on both sides so the owner could turn the rod 180 degrees to prevent it from taking a set in one direction.
The first major improvement in fishing rods came with the use of fiberglass. While it did not take a set it was a heavy material and solid fiberglass rods did not have a lot of action. I made a 12-foot fiberglass surf rod that could cast eight ounces or more if you had the strength to use it. Later I bought an 11-foot Garcia two-piece rod that was even heavier. This was back in the day when big blues stormed the surf and either of those rods could handle big chunks of bunker and at least eight ounces of lead. Today's surf rods are much lighter in weight and will still put a big chunk of bait and lots of lead out to where the big drum and blues live.
The same move to lighter yet more powerful rods continues today. I have a six-foot custom rod with a freshwater reel filled with 30-pound braid that will beat a big cow-nosed ray or toothy shark. In fact, it was called upon to do just that last year.
Rods are so specialized that you will be able to select one to match your style of fishing. The first thing I look for in a rod is balance. The rod and reel should balance with your hand in the place where you would normally hold the fishing outfit. An unbalanced rod will be hard to cast and make fighting a fish difficult because you are also fighting the rod.
Generally speaking, if you are trying to make a long cast the rod needs plenty of power that it can transfer to the bottom rig or lure. Trolling rods must have lots of lifting power to bring in a big fish.
Your best bet is to go to your favorite tackle shop or custom rod builder when trying to select a new weapon for bringing in the big ones. They will have a wide selection of products to choose from and can fit the rod to your particular style of fishing.
*Eric Burnley Sr. is a native Delawarean who has fished the waters of his home state for more than 60 years. He has been a full-time outdoor writer since 1978, with articles appearing in most national magazines as well as many regional publications. He has authored three books, Surf Fishing The Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide To Catching Striped Bass and Fishing Saltwater Baits.