Fishing Report: Indian River Inlet and Burton Island, Delaware

I spent two weekends ago in Bethany Beach, Delaware, with friends.  Great fun, but having been vacationing in the area for years, I was excited to climb on the jetty and throw my 10wt for big bluefish in the mornings.  I brought all of the needed gear, but forgot my korkers (studded boots for climbing on jetties).  Not wanting to risk slipping and dying on the amazingly slippery rocks (which happens to people here every year), I decided to break out my 5wt and hit Burton Island, behind the inlet.  With the tide coming in, I figured I had a decent shot at a small trout, or slot striped bass.

Burton Island is accessible at a small parking lot by the Indian River Marina.  I put on my waders, and walked in along the trail.  As I got as close to the inlet as the trail would allow, I trekked into the woods, and popped out in the grass at the edge of the island.  Here the water was full of 4″-6″ jumping mullet, silversides, and killifish, and there were fish feeding on them.  The water here was about 5 feet deep, and I was able to stand in the ankle deep water in the grass and swing a clouser minnow in the current.  I managed to catch a few snapper bluefish in the 10-12″ range – fun on a 5wt.  No trout, and no stripers.  I imagine fishing here on the same tide at night would yield different results.

I also tried fishing the beach while I was in Bethany.  With my 10wt and my shooting, sinking line I fished the rough surf, hoping for big blues.  When I finally put the rod down, I saw them – a pod of bluefish ripping apart mullet.  They were 200 feet out, well past my fly rod’s range, and they were big – 30″ fish, throwing themselves clear from the water, swirling on the surface, and moving steadily down the beach toward the inlet.  I followed them, hoping they would push the mullet into the surf, but it never happened.  They eventually disappeared, and I walked back to my friends, wishing I had my korkers.  If I was in the Rehoboth/Bethany/Dewey area now, I would recommend climbing the jetty (with the right footwear) and throwing 5″ deceivers for chopper blues.

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