Regional Reports-East

Delaware Bay

Charlie Lesser, Delaware state fisheries administrator, is much pleased by the rebounding numbers of weakfish and fluke in the Delaware Bay, and he's also much concerned. "The entire Delaware Bay fishery, including weakfish, striped bass, fluke and other species, is under great pressure because of the worldwide commercial market," he says. "There is always pressure to have a completely open commercial fishery." Offshore weakfish harvest has been a problem in years past, taking too many weakfish that spawn in the bay and then winter off North Carolina. Lesser does predict, however, that after months of concern over fish numbers there will be excellent sportfishing for weakies in the bay this fall. "This summer we have large numbers of young weakfish that we are trying to grow into larger fish," Lesser says. Current regulations in Delaware and New Jersey allow fishermen to take daily 14 weakfish no less than 14 inches in length, ensuring the release of immature fish. Although weakfish numbers are up, Lesser cautions that unless mortality rates among young weakfish and summer flounder are reduced, the fisheries will be back in jeopardy. Contact: Charlie Lesser, Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife (89 King's Highway, Dover, DE 19901; 302-739-3441).