Delaware adopts new regulations for cobia and tilefish


The state of Delaware has adopted new regulations for cobia and tilefish to comply with federal regulations. Cobia are a new species to our waters and haven’t required regulations in the past, while tilefish have been available for years, but have become more of a directed fishery as GPS, SONAR and more reliable boat motors have taken over the offshore fishing.

The new cobia regulations are pretty straightforward. The minimum size will be 37 inches total length and there will be no closed season. The bag limit will be one cobia per boat per day or one per angler. This means if two anglers are fishing on a boat, they will be allowed one cobia per boat. The same two anglers fishing from shore will be allowed one cobia each.

Then there are tilefish.

Golden tilefish have no minimum size limit and there will be no closed season. The bag limit is eight per day.

Blueline tilefish have much more confusing regulations. First, there is no minimum size. There is a closed season from Nov. 1 to April 30. Bag limits are ridiculous. Private boats will only be allowed three blueline tilefish per person. Uninspected charter boats may keep five blueline tilefish per person, while inspected charter or head boats may retain seven blueline tilefish per person. This is a slap in the face for private and six-pack charter boats, and it must be changed.

I was upset when they divided up the bluefish with three per private fisherman and five for for-hire boats. Now they have gone even further and divided up the resource three ways by separating the for-hire industry between inspected and uninspected boats.

A recreational fisherman is a recreational fisherman, whether he or she is standing on the deck of a boat, a sandy beach, a rock jetty or a pier. It doesn’t matter if the boat is privately owned, or a head or charter boat. The recreational fisherman is still a recreational fisherman.

I fish on all sorts of boats as well as from shore. The folks I meet on a charter boat are different from those who fish from head boats and those who fish from the surf or the jetty or the pier. I suspect someone thought by increasing the number of fish you are allowed to keep on a head or charter boat, all those private boat owners would sell their boats and line up to go out on head boats. Wake up, buttercup. That ain’t goin’ to happen! All you are doing is driving a wedge between recreational fishermen when none is needed. The regulations for recreational fishermen should be uniform no matter where they choose to fish.

Determine the total recreational allocation. Use your magic calculations and figure the number of fish allowed per recreational angler. Period! No division for any other purpose. Publish that figure and move on to the next species.

We already know that recreational fishing provides more money to the economy than commercial fishing. I don’t think you want to compare the economic value of private boaters to those fishing from head and charter boats.

Fishing report

The weather was not our friend last week. There were more bad days than good, but the good days were very nice and lots of fish were caught.

Flounder and sea bass remain the top draw for inshore fishermen. The fact that boats continue to bring in limits of both species continues to surprise me and several other old-timers.

The Old Grounds, B and A buoys have been good locations for flounder and a few sea bass. The Del-Jersey-Land Reef continues to provide good sea bass fishing along with dolphin. The dolphin may be gone after this latest blow.

Speaking of flounder, Amanda at Lewes Harbour Marina checked in a 10.6-pound flounder for Jackie Young from Chadds Ford, Pa. The fish was caught on a strip of squid flavored with peeler oil. This is the largest flounder caught in Delaware so far this year.

Massey’s Ditch is seeing some interesting catches. Sheepshead, black drum and flounder have all been caught from the fishing pier. Sand fleas for the sheepshead and drum, with minnows or Gulp! for the flounder.

As predicted, the canyons have been hot if you are in the right place at the right time. Rick’s Bait and Tackle reported the crew of the Cast and Blast fished the Washington Canyon to catch a 171-pound bigeye, three yellowfins weighing 55, 45 and 35 pounds, and a two-man limit of dolphin.

Delaware Bay has a variety of fish including tog, sheepshead, trout, spot, croaker, kings, blues, triggerfish and flounder. The sheepshead, triggerfish and tog are on the reef sites and the Inner and Outer walls. Sand fleas have been the top baits for them.



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