The Nanticoke River is certainly one of the best Eastern Shore Rivers for bass fishing. On weekends you will see tournament fisherman from several states because the river fishes “big enough” to accommodate 50-150 boat events. I have found breaking the river down into three basic sections helps new fishermen here avoid being overwhelmed by the river’s size. These are main river/Seaford, Broad creek and finally Marshyhope Creek. Each of these areas has advantages and disadvantages for tournament fishermen and weekend fishermen alike.
This creek is very popular but has too many “no wake” zones between Phillips Landing and Laurel making it tough to “run and gun” in tournaments. Broad Creek is more sheltered in heavy winds and usually has clearer water the closer to Laurel you go.
Some of the best fishing can be found by markers #4 – 5 and 7 as the creek makes wide bends all the way to Bethel. Just past Bethel Bridge is a small pond to the right that is easily accessed from the river. This is a real hotspot at times and a guaranteed fish spot during the spawn. Further up the creek you will see tons of lay down trees and finally a couple of bridges and a spillway in Laurel. This area is all good but slow going because of boat traffic and obstructions in the narrow channel.
Seaford and Above
The main river and Seaford area makes jumping from spot to spot very easy because the river is wider with very few restrictions. You will have barge traffic and many pleasure boaters and the dreaded jet skis to contend with but the fishing is great. My favorite spots are the boat docks; woodland ferry crossing, pad lines and all the great small feeder creeks. The Seaford area has heavy industry with all the piling clusters for barges, bulkheads, a Railroad bridge and several good backwater areas. Between the railroad bridge and the Blades draw bridge there is a large marina with great fishing in the winter and during the spawn. Above the Blades drawbridge to the left is another backwater area leading to a dam with great fishing at times. Moving on up river past Route 13 Bridge the river splits into two branches. Both of these are fantastic in summer and fall but take time and caution to explore. Look closely and you will notice many new areas with grass. When fishing the Nanticoke remember the tide changes much earlier in Sharptown and Vienna than in Seaford so take full advantage of that “golden hour” when the bite is strong.
The Marshyhope fishes like a whole separate river and is easy to navigate when the pads are up. In winter or early season several bass boats have hit the mudflats thinking they were in the channel. This creek has always been best for me on falling tide with the last two hours being fantastic. Tournament fishermen have planted brush piles, weighted down wood pallets and even rock piles to enhance certain areas. These are all easy to find by watching your depth finder and slowly cruising pad line drops and creek mouths. There are several old wood boat wrecks on this creek that hold fish and some are visible on low tide so mark them with your GPS. Fish every creek mouth you can find on falling tides. Beaver huts are really bass magnets on this creek and any wood you notice out from the pad line on falling tide will hold bass consistently. Also fish the shallow bridge pilings, docks and all rip rap you see that helps break the current. Moving on up into the narrow wooded section look closely to your left and you will see a small pond called “Peggy’s Hole”. This is such a great spot during the spawn it is often put “off limits” in tournaments to avoid a boat race getting to it. The bass spawn much earlier than most people realize in this pond. Moving on towards Federalsburg you will notice a sandpit on your left that is also a spawn area that can be very good. In Federalsburg at the new ramp there is a small marina that never has boats tied up in it but is a good fishing spot. All the rip rap close by is good also. In fall always continue fishing all the way up past Federalsburg for the fish are there as the water cools. Now for the downside the Marshyhope has really strong current, gets muddy easily after rains or from boat traffic and is a fairly long ride from Phillip’s Landing or Seaford ramps.