Located off Delaware Route 26 on the south shore of the Indian River Bay in Millville between Bethany Beach and Dagsboro, Delaware is Holts Landing State Park. This recreation area abounds with opportunities for families to spend a relaxing day out doors and provides some of the best fishing and crabbing habitat of the back-end of Indian River Bay. The area also boasts primitive camping sites, a boat ramp, a nature trail, and crabbing/fishing pier.
Holts Landing is a 203 acre area that hosts a variety of beautiful bay side landscapes; from the bay shore beach to grassy fields and hardwood and pine forests and eel grass flats. Early in American history, the shores of Delaware’s inland bays were home to the native Nanticoke Indians. The Nanticoke, who still hold a prominent spot in Sussex County, DE harvested the abundant fish and shell-fish from the bays and hunted in the surrounding marshes and forests. Once European settlers arrived on Delaware’s shores, agriculture began to develop around the inland bays however the bounty that the bays provided remained a staple of trade. The Nanticoke Indian Nation had made a rich historic imprint in the area. Much of their history has been preserved by the local native Nanticoke people. We recommend visiting the Nanticoke Indian Association online or spending an afternoon at the Nanticoke Indian Museum in Oak Orchard, DE.
Holts Landing State Park is home to the only pier built on Delaware’s Inland Bays specifically for public crabbing. The pier opened in 2001 and juts out over the shallow water and provides crabbers and anglers the opportunity to catch Atlantic blue crabs and a host of salt water fish. The pier is open daily from 8 a.m. until sunset.
Things to Do
Holts Landing also offers a host of other amenities. A large picnic pavilion is located adjacent to the parking lot and offers enough room for several large groups to spend the day enjoying a BBQ. A grassy area with horse shoe pits is located next to the pavilion as well.
At the far end of the parking lot is the entrance to the Seahawk Nature Trail. This trail winds along the bay side shoreline, through natural marsh areas and through a portion of the hardwood forest. While walking the trail look for the many large birds that call Holts Landing home. It is not unusual to see such hawks, herons, and osprey as well as native songbirds that make their home in trees and shrubs. A watchful eye may spot deer, a raccoon, possum, muskrat, or a fox. Make sure you bring your camera to Holts Landing.
Holts Landing offers a great place to take kids to experience fishing. Because the pier provides easy access, the younger anglers will have an opportunity to experience fishing in a safe environment. This particular dad was able to enjoy his youngest daughter’s first ever catch; a smooth dogfish and catch it as a photo. While fishing or crabbing, take note to look into the water. You’ll be surprised at what you may see. During the summer, large needle fish swim below the pier, and crabs can be seen scurrying across the shallow bottom. Of utmost importance are the oysters that are seen growing on the rocks and other structures. Oysters had gone into decline through the 1970′s and 1980′s as development around the bays took hold. Now, through the efforts of oyster seeding as well as nature itself, the oyster population is on the rise. Oysters provide an abundant food source for wildlife and provide filtering of the bay waters. Should the oyster population disappear, the bays and ultimately the ocean would be at a higher risk of declining environmental health and ultimately damage the natural fishery that we so enjoy.
Getting to Holts Landing State Park
From the Bethany Beach area, head west on Rt. 26 to Road 347. Turn right on 347 and follow to Whites Neck Road. Follow Whites Neck Road to Holts Landing Road (Rd. 346) for approximately 3.5 miles into the park.
From Dagsboro/Rt. 113, take Rt. 26 (Vines Creek Road) east towards Millville, DE. Make a left onto Holts Landing Road (Rd. 346) and follow approximately 3 miles into the park.