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Fly tying, winter shows and surf-fishing permits

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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Fishing was pretty good last Saturday with tog, sea bass and rockfish caught out of the ocean. The tog came off of inshore reef sites 9,10 and 11 with green crab the most popular bait. The head boat out of Lewes ran offshore for sea bass and managed a good catch of big fish. Rockfish were caught over the lumps off Bethany Beach on trolled Stretch plugs, Mojos and umbrella rigs.

I have no idea how much longer the rockfish will stay around, but with the ocean water temperature hovering near 42 degrees, I suspect the next cold snap will send them south. Tog will be available all winter, and there are boats running from Lewes and Indian River willing to carry you to the action. Sea bass season closed Tuesday, but the Fisherman's Wharf head boats will be running tog and cod trips all winter.

Freshwater fishing will be the best bet for those of us who prefer to stay ashore during the winter. The local mill ponds and spillways provide a chance to catch a fish of some sort on the few days when the weather is tolerable. I have had good luck fishing the head of the Broadkill River and Wagamons Pond during the winter. I use a 1/16-ounce crappie jig or a small piece of earthworm to catch bass, crappie and perch. Not every trip is a success, but just getting outside on a warm day recharges my battery.

Waterfowl hunting is another winter activity. From the number of snow geese I see flying over my house, I suspect anyone who can bring them in range will have a successful hunt. Not seeing the number of Canada geese I saw last year, but I have a friend who hunts over in Maryland, and they are having a good season.

Winter shows

There are nowhere near the number of fishing and boat shows as there were before the Great Recession, but a few have survived. The closest to us is the Ocean City Boat Show held in February during Presidents Day weekend. Here you will find all the local boat dealers willing to make some very good deals for those looking to buy something new for the 2014 season.

The Pasadena Sportfishing Group holds a flea market Feb. 15-16 at the Glen Burnie Moose Hall, 1911 Crain Hwy., Glen Burnie, Md., where you can stock up on all the tackle you will need for the new year. Many of the vendors make bucktails, umbrella and other rigs at home and sell them for prices you won't find in any big box store. This is one of the few shows where I don't bring my lunch because of the outstanding pit beef sandwiches they serve.

The Salt Water Sportsman Seminar comes to Annapolis Feb. 1, with George Poveromo and Ric Burnley as cohosts. It is a great day to spend gathering knowledge on every kind of saltwater fishing from inshore flounder to offshore tuna and marlin. As you might have guessed, I will be there to watch my son do his thing.

Other shows may pop up during the winter, and I will try to let you know when and where so you can plan to attend.

Fly tying

Every winter the Delaware Saltwater Fly-fishing Club holds fly tying meetings at Lewes Harbour Marina. The sessions begin at 9 a.m. and run until noon on Saturdays.

This is the most active fishing club in the state, and I attend the meetings just to get out of the house and talk with fishermen.

I recommend anyone with even the slightest interest in fly fishing should come to one of these gatherings. The members are more than happy to share their knowledge and will take all the time you need to teach you how to do everything from casting to fly tying.

During the summer the club meets and fishes the beach in Lewes. It may be near the ferry jetty, the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier or along the oceanfront. They also travel to winter fly fishing shows in Annapolis and New Jersey.

Surf-fishing permits

At the December meeting of the Delaware Mobile Surf-Fishermen, Pat Cooper from Delaware Seashore State Park told us there is a chance we could see an increase in the fee for surf-fishing permits. Any increase must be approved by the Delaware Legislature, which is far from certain during an election year.

It has been a few years since an increase in the fee, and every year more and more people get permits making it more expensive to maintain the beach and police the surf-fishermen. The bottom line is, get your permit before June 1, when any increase will become law.

Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age. Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast. He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.

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Original Publication Date: January 3, 2014

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