Roosevelt Inlet

Lewes, Delaware – History, Mystery and Fish

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Roosevelt Inlet and the adjacent Lewes Beach on the Delaware Bay

Lewes, Delaware (pronounced Loo-iss) has the distinct honor of being the “First Town in the First State”. Lewes, DE has a rich history dating back to pre-colonial America thousands of years. Situated on the mouth of the Delaware Bay, just inside Cape Henlopen, DE, Lewes’ location has offered a place to humans to call home for thousands of years. It has been home to Native Americans, Swedish colonists, Dutch colonists and the British Empire.

Throughout its history, Lewes, DE has been settled, colonized, burned, attacked, raided, bombarded, captured and recaptured by those who had understood both Lewes’ strategic and commerce based importance. Lewes, DE served as a commercial and military center over its 400 years of colonial and post-colonial history and continues to serve as the home for the Delaware Bay Pilots who escort large cargo ships in from the ocean bound for the Port of Wilmington and Philadelphia. 

For 400 years, Lewes has been a hub of activity; from the Swedes who used the town as a trading port, to pirates who plied the Atlantic waters, and the British Navy and merchants who called it home until the War of Independence, and the U.S. Army who used the area leading out to Cape Henlopen to guard against enemy ships during WWII. Throughout this long and rich history one thing has remained constant; FISH. The tidal fishing is Lewes is some of the best in Delaware. 

Roosevelt Inlet – Lewes, Delaware

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Looking toward the back of Roosevelt Inlet and the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal.

Roosevelt Inlet is a narrow entry to and from the Delaware Bay into the Town of Lewes, DE that provides access to Delaware’s  Inland Bays and the lower estuary system and is adjacent to the Lewes Beach. Roosevelt Inlet holds a host of Mid-Atlantic fish that any angler, serious or casual would be glad to catch. From spot and croaker, to summer flounder, bluefish, and striper (rock fish) there is no lack of game fish to target. Natural baits such as squid, clam and minnows are good choices as are many artificial lures.

Roosevelt Inlet is also home to other species of marine and terrestrial life; eels, blue crabs, bait fish of all manner, rabbits, gulls, and other shorebirds, and brown ship rats. Yes, brown ship rats. These rodents are nothing to fear as they scurry in and out of the rock piles seeking the disposed scraps of beach goers’ French fries and funnel cakes. A quick “PSSSST” and they run away. Perhaps, these are the direct ancestors of the ship rats that arrived with the early settlers 400 years ago. 

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Ship rat … Roosevelt Inlet … Lewes, DE

Roosevelt Inlet is easy to get to and access. From Rt. 1 (Coastal Highway) simply drive into Lewes on Route 9 (Savannah Road) and turn onto Cedar Street. Follow Cedar Street to the very end, behind the Lewes Yacht Club. Cedar Street leads right into the convenient parking area right along side Roosevelt Inlet. A walk on path leads you over the dune to the Lewes Beach which is on the Delaware Bay. This beach is operated by the City of Lewes and is NOT a drive on beach. During the summer season, please be aware that others will be in the area accessing the beach. 

The Broadkill River below, meeting Canary creek, the Rehoboth/Lewes canal and Roosevelt inlet that empties into the Delaware Bay … photo by Amy Conroy

A few things to note about Roosevelt Inlet is the accessibility.  Yes, it is very easy to get to but we suggest you survey the area before that first cast. The inlet banks are lined with rocks to control erosion. Carefully plot your path across the rocks to your fishing area. If you think you will be fishing after sunset make sure you have a flashlight or lantern. There are no lights in the parking area and the lights from the Lewes Yacht Club and adjacent boat ramps will not provide any help. I wear a LED headlamp for my night fishing excursions and highly recommend that every angler have one in their kit. Pay close attention to the wind, tides and water conditions. While the rocks provide a great place to fish from, they are not far above the water and no railing is available. Take special note that as you follow the rocks they lead directly into the bay. Please play it safe and only fish from where you are comfortable. 

Draken Harald Hårfagre heading out of the Roosevelt Inlet

The Wrap Up

While Roosevelt Inlet offers a rewarding fishing experience, anglers must be careful. Go prepared and have a game plan and you will enjoy yourself and find yourself wanting to return. However, if you carry along a reckless attitude, you will surely find yourself spilled out on the rocks with bumps and bruises at best. Wear weather appropriate clothing, carry a light, and be cautious and you will be in for a great fishing experience.  I do not recommend this area for young children as a place to fish. It is better to take them to a place where both of you can enjoy the fishing action.  The Cape Henlopen State Park Fishing Pier is not far away.

For more information about the City of Lewes, Delaware please visit the City of  Lewes website.

For more about Lewes’ rich historic past please visit the Lewes Historical Society.