From ocean to bay, from boating to fishing, Delaware has it covered
In Delaware, anglers and boaters can take their choice of ocean, bays, canals, rivers and ponds. Some serious fishing takes place on the headboats departing from southern beach towns, but there’s plenty of less-complicated fun to be had by the side of a stream, off the end of a pier, or in a kayak. Stand-up paddleboarding is a growing pursuit in the beautiful Inland Bays, and canoeing trails abound along the waterways of the coastal areas near the Delaware Bay.
Consider starting your trip with a stayover at the Inn at Montchanin Village, where lodgers are pampered and them primed for the day at the adjoining restaurant, Krazy Kat’s. It’s just minutes from Brandywine Creek State Park in the heart of Northern Delaware’s “Chateau Country.” This park offers a beautiful setting for freshwater fishing: Anglers can find smallmouth bass, bluegill and crappie in Brandywine Creek, and trout in Wilson’s Run, near the main entrance to the park.
Next, head back toward the river coast, where lunch comes with a side of historic charm at Cantwell’s Tavern in Odessa. It’s a short drive to a place where kayakers will get to explore Delaware’s biggest man-made waterway. Launch the boats at Fort DuPont -- once an active military base from the Civil War through World War II, the park now offers picnicking, fishing, and hiking. From here, the broad Chesapeake & Delaware Canal stretches 14 miles into Maryland, featuring restaurants and marinas along the way.
It’s now time for some down-home Delaware delights for dinner – fresh steamed crabs at Kathy’s Crab House in Delaware City – before retiring in bliss to your bed at the Hampton Inn in Middletown.
Every Delaware experience should start the day with breakfast at a local legend like Helen’s Sausage House near Smyrna (check out the “Elvis Room”). Afterward, launch the kayak at Woodland Beach Wildlife Area boat ramp.
Head east toward the Delaware Bay and see why this waterfowl refuge is popular with birdwatchers. On-site ponds, wetlands, and boardwalks make this a great spot for nature study and catch-and-release fishing. Three of the ponds are stocked.
For lunch, head south a few miles to the state capital in Dover, which boasts plentiful local favorites (consider 33 West Ale House & Grill, The Greene Turtle, or Rice). Nearby, launch at the St. Jones River Boat Ramp – this serpentine stream meanders from downtown Dover to Bowers Beach, located on the Delaware Bay. As you paddle, you’ll pass through the Little Creek and Ted Harvey Wildlife Areas, both scenic and natural settings. The river has three main access points, allowing trips of varying lengths: Lebanon Landing on Sorghum Mill Road in Dover; Ted Harvey Wildlife Area on Barkers Landing Road; and Bowers Beach’s Beach Public Access or Boat Ramp.
For dinner, check out the gourmet burgers at Restaurant 55, and collapse gratefully onto your bed at the Country Inn and Suites.
To conclude your adventure, take on Delaware’s Atlantic Coast, starting with breakfast at Arena’s Deli in Lewes, then heading to the wave-washed pier at Cape Henlopen State Park, where crabbing and fishing are daily passions. Get your gear at nearby Cape Henlopen Fishing Center (open seven days a week, May 15-Oct. 31). Surf fishing is also a popular year-round activity along the park’s ocean beaches, but you will need a vehicle permit, available online or at the park office.
Back in Lewes, enjoy a Mexican lunch at Agave before heading to the dock at the end of Pilottown Road, which runs along the canal and gives kayakers access to the water just a few feet from the ocean.
Head west next to wrap up the trip at Trap Pond State Park, where boating among the magnificent stands of bald cypress trees is a favorite pastime. Rowboats, pedal boats, canoes and kayaks are available for rent during the summer season, and the park interpreter hosts narrated pontoon boat tours on weekends and holidays, from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day. The launching ramp here can accommodate small motorized boats for scenic excursions or some fishing, which features largemouth bass, pickerel, crappie, and bluegills. One of the streams that flows into Trap Pond has been marked as a wilderness canoe trail, giving boaters a chance to explore the marshland’s interior.
For dinner, consider embracing some French flair at Bon Appetit in Seaford, just a quick jaunt to your lodgings at the Holiday Inn Express.
For more information, go to www.VisitDelaware.com/Outdoor, call (866) 284-7483, or e-mail Visit.Delaware@state.de.us.