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Conditions uncooperative? Try something new

Cape Gazette of Lewes, Delaware

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If nothing else, the marine forecast last week and into the weekend is consistent; northeast winds 15 to 20 knots with seas running 5 to 9 feet. This pretty much puts the end to any plans to fish in open water. So what's a poor winter weary angler to do? Believe it or not, if you are willing to forget you have a boat and are willing to try something new, there are options and you might even catch a fish.

Broadkill Beach

This thin strip of sand between the Delaware Bay and the Broadkill River has been an early season hot spot for as long as I can remember. In days gone by, it was big trout that came in here before they moved up the bay to Brown Shoal and Brandy-wine Light. Peeler crab was the prime bait with chicken soaked in peeler oil a poor substitute.

If you decide to give this spot a try, be ready for some cold and wet conditions. With a northeast wind, there will be a fairly rough surf and lots of spray. It is possible that the beach may be closed on high tide. On the other hand, the northeast wind could push bait and rockfish into the beach.

I would go with fresh bunker or bloodworms on a fish-finder rig with a 7/0 or 8/0 circle hook. Use two bloodworms on the hook. One balled up and the second streaming off. Peeler crab is not going to be available for a while, but fresh clam is a good choice for rockfish and black drum

Both drive-on and walk-on areas are available here. The parking lot is small, but I have never seen it full. This is a Delaware State Park, so you will have to pay the entrance fee.

Lewes and Rehoboth Canal

Flounder should be moving into the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal on the northeast wind. It is possible to fish here from a small boat, but the wind is going to make drifting a real chore.

The kid's park off of Front Street has a pavilion that is also a fishing pier. It is lightly used and provides good fishing access to the canal. The old boat ramp floating dock is close by and is also used as a fishing station.

The one mistake I see folks make when fishing from shore for flounder is casting out and then letting the bait remain on one place. Most of the time flounder lie on the bottom waiting for food to pass by. So here you are with your bait anchored to the bottom waiting for a flounder to pass by, meanwhile the flounder is waiting on the bottom for your bait to pass by.

I cast my bait up current then use the current to move the bait along the bottom while I crank out the slack. A small bucktail with a Gulp! swimming minnow or a live minnow or a strip of squid works well in this situation. Try to cast in a fan pattern and vary the retrieve to cover as much bottom as possible.

The beauty of fishing in downtown Lewes is you can drop the wife off on Second Street and be good for several hours of fishing. You can even sweeten the pot by having lunch or dinner with her at one of the great restaurants in town. This is called a win-win situation.

Indian River Inlet

When I camped at Indian River Inlet in the '60s and '70s, we loved a northeast wind because it would put bait and fish within casting range. A dry nor'easter was even better because we could fish without the heavy foul weather gear we had at the time.

You can expect to find several fish species here in the spring, with the rockfish a target for most anglers. Rock will take a variety of lures and baits, but a white bucktail with a white worm is the best of both worlds. Bring plenty with you in sizes up to 2 ounces because the inlet is a bucktail eating hog.

Work the jig right in the rocks by making short casts and allowing the current to bump the lure along. In my misspent youth I would move from one rock to another after making a few casts. My rock-hopping days are long past and now I pick a nice, big flat rock and stay there.

Blues and hickory shad may pass through the inlet on incoming water. Shad darts and small spoons will take both species.

Tog have been caught here this spring. Try soaking a sand flea or green crab on the bottom for these creatures.

Whatever and wherever you fish this weekend, good luck.

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. Eric can be reached at

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Original Publication Date: April 15, 2016

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