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Delaware Fishing Report
When, Where, What and How They're Biting


By Eric Burnley Sr.*

Updated: May 5, 2016

2016 Delaware Fishing GuideDELAWARE BAY Rockfish action in the Upper Bay saw a good bump last week with fish up to 30 pounds taken from shore and from boats. Cut, fresh bunker was the best bait with bloodworms a distant second.

The shoreline at Governor Bacon Medical Center produced some nice rock as did the pier at Woodland Beach. Most of the regular hot spots from the Yellow and Red cans to the Bull Pen on down to the channel edge from the Power Plant to Blake’s Channel had decent numbers of keeper-sized rockfish for boaters who chummed with fresh bunker.

Big catfish have been caught from shore by anglers soaking bunker for rockfish. The tidal creeks and rivers also saw big cats on bloodworms, bunker and chicken livers.

Reef sites 6 and 7 produced limits of tog as did the Outer Wall. Reef sites further up the bay also saw some tog action, but not as good as the Lower Bay reef sites. Green crabs and shrimp have been the most popular baits.
The occasional black drum has been caught from the beach at Broadkill.  The lack of action is more a result of the weather that has kept most anglers someplace warm and dry. Expect the drum bite to improve as the conditions get more like spring than winter. Boaters should encounter big boomers off of Broadkill Beach and from the Coral Beds out of Mispillion Inlet. Fresh clam is the prime drum bait.

At least one big bluefish was caught from Lewes Beach. It weighed 17 pounds and hit an Atom Striper Swiper.

INSHORE OCEAN In spite of the nasty weather one boat made it out to Site 10 and found the tog waiting and willing to bite. This weekend promises much better weather and perhaps more anglers will be able to get out of Indian River Inlet.  Tog season closes on May 11, so this will be the last shot until July 17. Black sea bass opens on May 15 with a 12.5-inch minimum size and a 15 fish per day bag limit.

INDIAN RIVER INLET Blues to 12 pounds have been caught on bucktails, but most of the fish are in the five to six-pound class.  Small rockfish have been taken along with the blues.

A few tog have been caught out of the rocks on sand fleas and green crab. With the tog season winding down I don’t expect much change.
So far, flounder season has not produced many fish in the back bays. We need warm, clear water and that has not been the case so far this spring. I keep saying wait till next week, but this time I do think we will see better weather and more flounder when spring finally arrives next week

SURF FISHING We are seeing a steady pick of keeper rockfish and big blues from Herring Point to Three Rs Road. The number of bluefish has not approached the spectacular run of 2015, but is more in line with a normal year. Cut bunker has been the top bait for both species.  I would suggest fishing very early or very late in the day as this seems to be the time when the fish are more likely to move into shallow water.

The occasional king and blowfish have been caught on bloodworms. With most surf fishermen baiting up for big rockfish and blues I suspect there will be more kings and blowfish caught once they become the only target species.

FRESHWATER Since the weather has been cold and wet I expect trout fishing in the stocked New Castle County streams is still pretty good. By now the trout have adapted to the wild and won’t be as easy to fool as newly stocked fish. Live bait is hard to beat with worms, minnows and grubs the top offerings.

The ponds are producing bass and crappie on live minnows or shad. Crankbaits and soft plastics are the top lures.

EMERGENCY COMMUNICATIONS There was recent news that the boat two Florida teenage boys put out to sea in has been found off the coast of Bermuda. The boys have never been found, but a cell phone was discovered in the boat.

I can only hope that the phone was not the only form of communication they had on board, but I expect it was. In today’s world, cell phones are often viewed as the only thing you need to talk with everyone. Unfortunately, they don’t work to well when you are too far offshore to reach a cell tower.

I don’t care if you never leave Delaware Bay, you must have a marine VHF radio on your boat. It is your direct link to help should something go wrong. While most problems involve a motor that won’t start, there are more serious events that can put you or a passenger at risk.

More than once I have monitored VHF calls for help because someone on a boat was injured or having a serious health issue.  Sure, you call always dial 911, but who do you think the dispatcher is going to call? - That’s right, the Coast Guard. Putting your VHF radio on Channel 16 and calling for help will save time and could save a life.

Anyone who travels offshore without an EPIRB is taking a terrible risk. We all know how fast things can go wrong on a boat and while you may have time to put out a MAYDAY call, once you are in the water or on a life raft the EPIRB is going to keep broadcasting your position to rescuers. Newer VHF radios can give out your position when you make a call, but when they stop working you are going to need the EPIRB.

The ocean can be a very cold and lonely place when you are waiting for a rescue, make it easier for the Coast Guard to find you by always having the proper radio equipment.

 *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.

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