No matter what type of fishing you enjoy, you can find it out of Indian River, Delaware. Boats from here catch everything from croakers to marlin, and even shore-based anglers can have a good time chasing blues, rockfish, and tog from the rocks that line the inlet.
Most anglers choose to fish over one of the several artificial reefs that are available from three to 20 miles from the inlet. These were built over the past 20 years using money from the Delaware General Fishing License as well as donations from various sources who have suitable materials for building reefs. These include everything from concrete pipes to subway cars to military ships.
Reef Site Nine is just three miles up the beach off of Rehoboth and can produce flounder, blues, tog, and croaker. About the same distance east of the inlet is Reef Site 10, and it holds the same fish as Reef Site Nine. The Del-Jersey-Land Reef is 22 miles southeast of the inlet and has excellent fishing for black sea bass in season. The next piece to be added to this reef will be a Cape May-Lewes Ferry later this year.
There is a large piece of natural bottom called the Old Grounds located 13 miles off the bell on a 113 heading. This has become the go-to place for summer flounder. Black sea bass and the occasional tog are also caught here. Tuna and dolphin are found over natural upwellings from 20 to 40 miles offshore. The Hot Dog, Elephant Trunk, 20-Fathom Fingers, and Massey’s Canyon will hold these fish plus a few white marlin and wahoo when we get a warm-water eddy that comes in close to shore. As a general rule, this happens early in the season before the canyons begin to produce. Late summer into early fall are the top times for canyon fishing out of Indian River.
The Baltimore, Wilmington, and Poorman’s canyons are the closest to the inlet, but with larger and more powerful boats now in service, everything from the Norfolk to the Hudson canyons are in range. If you want to trailer your boat here, there is an excellent launch ramp on the northside of Indian River Inlet. There are only two ramps, but for the most part folks behave well and everyone launches and clears the ramp as fast as possible. On occasions where a problem arises, park personnel are right there to sort things out. This includes park rangers who have a ticket book and are not afraid to use it.
For those who would like to run their boats to Indian River, the Indian River Marina on the north side of Indian River Inlet has everything you need for a pleasant stay. The restaurant is quite good, and the restrooms are usually clean. There is a ships store and a service shop that can handle most boat related problems. Those who would like to drive over for a visit will find campgrounds on both sides of the inlet with some very nice cottages available on the north side. These cottages are located right on the water, and you can watch all the boat traffic or wet a line within a few steps from your door.
If you want to charter a boat or fish from a head boat, they are available from the Indian River Marina. Some captains specialize in inshore bottom fish, while others go after the big tuna and marlin. Prices range accordingly. If your family is not into fishing, there is plenty to do at the Delaware Seashore Park or in the nearby towns of Rehoboth or Bethany Beach. Both towns have a boardwalk, with Rehoboth having more entertainment and Bethany being a bit more genteel.
Spending a day at the beach is easy, as the pavilion on the southside of the inlet has bathhouses and a new restaurant on the top floor. There is a per-car parking charge to enter the lot next to the pavilion, but it costs only $10 for the day. Since the entire area is a tourist attraction, there are plenty of lodging and food choices. While the prices vary depending on how close you are to the water, prices on the coast are considerably less if you go in the spring or fall. I recommend the fall when the water is still warm, and the fishing is usually pretty good.
By Eric Burnley