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Delaware does not have any natural lakes, but the coastal state does have wetlands, rivers and estuaries, a large percentage of which are in Sussex County. Like other areas, the water in Sussex County has been changed by the people who settled there. Rivers were dammed, reservoirs formed, and swamps drained until the area became a collection of ponds and farmland. Millsboro Pond is a classic part of that history, and it is also a great place to fish and relax.
The original setters in the area around Millsboro Pond were the Native American tribe of the Nanticoke Indians who used the area as hunting and fishing grounds. The Nanticoke Indian Museum is an easy drive from Millsboro Pond and a great place to explore the history of the area. When the European settlers moved in, they started a rural farming community. In 1792 Elisha Dickerson found a narrow spot at the headwaters of the Indian River and built an earthen dam. Millsboro Pond is the resulting impoundment. The spot was called Rock Hole, named for the annual rockfish spawning. Mr. Dickerson also built a large gristmill and sawmill, and the town that grew up around them was originally called Rock Hole Mills. It had a sister town on the other side of the Indian River called Washington. In 1837 the two towns joined and became the single community of Millsborough. Eventually the town's name was shortened to Millsboro.
Millsboro Pond is surrounded by the Town of Millsboro. Agriculture and timber were the area's main industries, and by 1930 poultry farming and processing had become one of Millsboro's biggest industries. Downtown Millsboro has maintained its classic small town charm, and visitors to Millsboro Pond can find various accommodations, restaurants, and shopping. Millsboro Pond itself is managed by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife.
Millsboro Pond has abundant populations of large mouth bass, black crappie, and pumpkinseed along with white perch, yellow perch and pickerel. At just over 100 acres of surface area, Millsboro Pond is conducive to fishing from the bank or by small boat. It is also a good place to canoe or kayak. Gasoline and electric motors are permitted, but size is restricted by the lake's shallow water. Waterfowl are prevalent, and lucky visitors may see bald eagles over Millsboro Pond.
The water that flows from Millsboro Pond into the Indian River continues on to the Indian River Bay and finally into the Atlantic Ocean. The Indian River Bay is a shallow river valley, and along with Rehoboth Bay is part of a larger system of bays called the Inland Bays. In 1988 the Inland Bays were designated an Estuary of National Significance. The Center for Inland Bays was formed in 1994 to protect and improve the water quality of the Inland Bays. It is a non-profit agency that works to enhance the bays and watersheds.
In addition to Millsboro Pond, Sussex County is also home to Records Pond and Trap Pond. There are scenic sections of rivers for canoeing, bald cypress swamps and state parks and wildlife areas. Although small, the ponds are full of fish, and there are several fishing contests every year most of which fish multiple ponds. A trip to Millsboro Pond includes the small town charm of Millsboro, abundant fish, and all that southern Delaware has to offer. With its easy access and local amenities, Millsboro Pond is sure to become a family favorite.
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