By Eric Burnley Sr.*
Updated: May 26, 2016
DELAWARE BAY I have no idea what happened to spring, but it is too late to worry about that because summer is here. The Memorial Day weekend is upon us and for the most part the weather is supposed to be good.
Rockfish are still being caught in the Upper Bay. They were a bit more scattered, but there are enough around to make chunking worthwhile. The same locations produced fish including the Yellow and Red cans, the Pipes and the 6L Buoy out of Collins Beach. Shore fishermen got in on the action at Augustine Beach and the pier at Woodland Beach. Bunker chunks worked here as well, along with bloodworms.
White perch and catfish were caught from shore at Woodland and Augustine beaches. The tidal creeks and rivers saw the same action with bloodworms producing most of the perch and cut bunker or chicken livers for the catfish.
The black drum bite has been steady at the Coral Beds. Boats from Slaughter Beach, Bowers Beach and Lewes have all found decent action. Clams are the most popular bait, but if you can get some live and legal-size blue claw crabs the drum will scoff them up while the dogs and skates don’t seem to find them as tasty as clams. Evening has been the most productive time to fish.
Big blues are still in the Lower Bay and the Broadkill River. The beach from the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier around to the Cape Henlopen Flats has seen some choppers while the Broadkill has produced fish to 15 pounds. Cut bunker remains the best bait and metal lures have caught a few blues.
The Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier has reopened. This will be good news for everyone who fishes there and couldn’t come at a better time. I would expect to see some flounder and perhaps a big blue or two taken this weekend.
The Lewes and Rehoboth Canal and the Broadkill River have seen flounder to over six pounds caught on minnows and squid. A jighead with a Gulp! shrimp in the penny copper color should also attract flatfish here..
INSHORE OCEAN Sea bass fishing has been very good. The Old Grounds and Site 11 have seen plenty of fish, but it won’t be long before you will have to run beyond the 20-Fathom Line to catch a limit of keepers. Clams, squid, cut fish, jigs and metal lures have all been effective on the bass.
I was out on Thursday with my friend Larry Weldin. We fished the Old Grounds and Site 11 from 7:30 a.m. 'til noon and while we caught several sea bass and one flounder only one bass was large enough to keep.
A few flounder have been caught along with the sea bass. A concentrated effort on flounder fishing would probably yield more flatfish. Use a three-foot leader on the bottom of your top-bottom rig and bait it with a long strip of squid or fish.
INDIAN RIVER INLET Fishing is still slow here. A few keeper rockfish have been caught after dark and the occasional big bluefish is taken during the day. A white bucktail and white worm seems to work on both blues and rock.
The back bays still have not produced many flounder. This could change by the weekend as very warm temps are expected and this is exactly what we need to get the water temperature up. This area will be covered up with boats over the holiday, so plan to be on the water at daybreak to avoid the crowds. The more shallow water will warm first and this is where to try your luck.
SURF FISHING Big blues and rockfish are still in the surf. Cut bunker or fresh clams will draw both to the hook. This is not a blitz situation, but being in the right location at the right time is the key to success. Don’t ask me where and when that will be because if I knew that I would be catching a lot more fish.
Bloodworms still produce some blowfish and kings. Quite often these fish are just beyond the breakers so a long cast is not required.
FRESHWATER Not much has changed in the ponds as shiners are still the top bait for bass with minnows on a jig deadly for crappie. I know Red Mill Pond is pretty dirty from all the rain and I expect most of the other ponds are the same.
Trout will still be available from the creeks in New Castle County and live bait will still be the best bet. Purists may try spinners, small spoons or streamer flies.
BE CAREFUL OUT THERE Good weather and a holiday weekend spell trouble on the water. The way to avoid trouble is to be careful out there.
Many boating accidents occur because the captain did not keep a good lookout. Perhaps he was busy talking to his buddies, or became distracted by the girl in the tiny bathing suit or the dolphins playing around the boat or texting or one of a thousand other things that happen on the water. Taking your eyes off of what’s in front of you is just as dangerous on the water as it is on the highway.
Booze is the other factor that contributes to boating accidents. The solution is simple; don’t drink if you will be running a boat. Even a couple of beers will compromise your judgement and could lead to a tragedy.
I know the bulk of readers will have their eyes glass over when they start to read another plea for safe boating. My hope is at least a few of them will take boating seriously and be careful out there.
And, by the way, always wear your PFD.
*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.