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A boating quiz, and fishing for ‘bridge beasts’

By Staff | Jun 19, 2020

The Broadkill River begins at the base of Wagamon’s Pond spillway in historic downtown Milton. A picturesque small town started by the Dutch in the 1600s. The Broadkill is a peaceful little tidal river that meanders for many miles through the forests and fields of southern Delaware all the way to the coast ending up near Broadkill Beach on the Delaware Bay. At times the river banks are covered with beautiful blankets of yellow honeysuckle, filling the air with their sweet scent as you navigate the river. Largemouth bass and crappies near town, and stripers and weakfish (northern sea-trout) closer to the bay, all targets of local river anglers and at times fishing can be quite good.

The land along the river’s edge still shows signs of the mule and horse team paths, used to pull large two and three mast sailing ships constructed in Milton, through the woods for mile after mile to finally reach the bay, filling their new sails for the first time. Must have been quite a sight to behold with teams of men and animals struggling and sweating, whips cracking while ahead crews with sharp hatchets and axes climbed and cleared protruding tree limbs, all trying to guide a ship down a narrow constantly curving what many would not really call a river, but a large stream.

Like many of the Milton locals, Uncle Homer had constructed a beautiful home at Broadkill Beach and for many years enjoyed the great water views as well as being an avid bay angler. As the years passed, fishing and boating eventually became more work than fun and Uncle Homer’s nice little Boston Whaler sat faithfully tied to the dock seeing little use. My uncle, a practical man, decided it was time to sell so he asked son Tim and I to take it upriver to the Milton ramp where he would meet us with the trailer, load it and take it to an interested buyer for inspection and hopeful sale.

Tim and I cleared the canal and looked forward to the hour-long trip. Hitting the throttle the 75 hp motor pushed the small Whaler with all it had. Normally this boat motor package cruised at 35 mph but all we could go was 5? The prop wasn’t slipping and the tide was with us. The normal 60-minute trip took over three hours due to having to stop periodically to rest the overheating engine.

Send an e-mail and in — exactly six words or less — explain what happened and I’ll mail you a virus free inshore lure package. First correct e-mail wins and the winner contacted as well as their name and short answer posted here.

Now, if you are a wise old salt, just knowingly smile and give the younger crowd a shot.

Even though tarpon mill around our river bridges all year, this is prime time for night fishing fans like myself that wait all year for the chance at enjoying what I consider to be one of anglings’ greatest tarpon thrills — night casting lures for bridge beasts.

From the Sanibel Causeway up-river past Fort Myers, all of the river bridges hold tarpon at various times depending on water chemistry, clarity, temperature and bait concentrations. In summer, bridges become a night tarpon hotspot.

After 20+ years of Florida guiding, you can stick a fork in me. I’m done with the searing sun and night fishing makes life pleasant again.

New to the river? Go in the day and get a good handle on getting from the ramp to your bridge. It all looks so very different at night. Modern electronics simplifies the night journey but a day trip is certainly wise.

An 8 to 8.5-foot, medium-heavy to heavy spinning rod loaded with 60-pound braid knotted to an 80-pound fluorocarbon leader is a good starting point.

Pick a moving tide. Think jigs, swimbaits and healthy releases.

Capt. George Tunison is a Cape Coral resident fishing guide. Contact him at 239-282-9434 or captgeorget3@aol.com.