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


By Eric Burnley Sr.*

Updated: Feb. 27, 2015

A public hearing was held in Dover recently to gather input on the six options approved by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to bring Delaware in compliance with the required 25 percent reduction in recreational striped bass landings. The six options below are the only choices available and the only options open for comment. Please send comments via email to Lisa Vest, DNREC hearing officer, or to Ms. Vest by mail c/o DNREC/Delaware striped bass options, 99 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901.2014 Delaware Fishing Guide


Size Limit(s)

Possession Limit(s)

Open Season/Areas


> 33 inches


All year & waters, except catch & release on spawning grounds April 1 - May 31


28 - 34 inches


All year & waters, except catch & release on spawning grounds April 1 - May 31


28 - 34 inches


All year & waters, except catch & release on spawning grounds April 1 - May 31

> 36 inches



28 - 36 inches


All year & waters, except catch & release on spawning grounds April 1 - May 31

>38 inches



28 - 37 inches


All year & waters, except catch & release on spawning grounds April 1 - May 31

> 40 inches



28 - 37 inches; > 44 inches


All year & waters,except catch & release on spawning grounds April 1 - May 31 and summer slot (*)

*20 - 25 inches


*DE Bay, River & tidal tributaries July 1 - Aug. 31

DELAWARE BAY Ice is still a problem in the bay with the Cape May Lewes Ferry cancelling trips early this week. With subfreezing temperatures expected until next Monday I don’t see much relief in sight.

INSHORE OCEAN To the best of my knowledge no one has left the dock in several weeks. Once the ice clears out I do expect to see a few boats get out for tog.

INDIAN RIVER INLET The inlet and the bays are choked with ice making even the thought of fishing out of the question.

FRESHWATER Red Mill Pond is covered with ice and I expect such is the case throughout the state. The upper reaches of the tidal rivers and creeks are also filled with ice. Look for the perch fishing to begin once the ice moves out.

FISHING AND FOG While the best time to fish is whenever you have time to go fishing, there are certain times when the fishing should be better and other times when you shouldn’t leave the dock.

In the spring we have very cold water in the ocean and bays with very warm, moist air moving up from the south. This combination will produce a very dense fog making navigation extremely dangerous. Since it is spring and every fisherman worth his or her salt is chaffing at the bit to get out on the water bad decisions are made. 

Fog tends to form on incoming tides when the cold water moving in from the ocean meets the warm air. If the wind is blowing from the southeast it will make the situation even worst. If we have incoming water in the morning the fog will be formed and no one in their right mind will leave the dock I don’t care what kind of radar you have. When we have outgoing water in the morning folks will go out only to be hit with blinding fog later in the day. It is also possible to run into fog banks several miles away from the beach. Do not think you can run through this, you can’t. Turn around and go back home.

Many years ago I thought I was quite the navigator. My friend Lark Bonelli, who was an aircraft pilot, believed we could navigate through anything.

One May morning we set out from Indian River heading to Brandywine Light in Delaware Bay. As soon as we hit the ocean we were covered up in fog.  Not to worry we were navigators of the finest kind.

We were so proud when we hit Hen and Chicken Shoal, then passed by the first channel marker going up the bay. God we were good!

Then, as we made our way towards Brandywine Light there loomed out of the fog a very large ship. Its bow and ours were on a collision course and it happened so quickly Lark had no time to react. The only thing that saved us was our slow speed. The ship’s bow wake pushed the boat aside and we traveled the length of the ship within touching distance of the hull.  As I write this I still get goose bumps.

Once the ship passed by we headed for Brandywine Shoal where the water was too shallow for big ships. As we tried to get our nerves back to something approaching normal we noticed swirls on the flat calm surface of the water. We were surrounded by a huge school of trout. At this point we began to cast bucktails and ended the day with more weakfish than either of us had caught before.

Even though the fog lifted, we came back home via the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, Rehoboth Bay and then Indian River Bay. Slower, yes, but so much safer.

*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 two books, Surf Fishing The Atlantic Coast and The Ultimate Guide To Catching Striped Bass.

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