The air was hot and the fishing was as well. Last week anglers were bailing fish all day from the surf. Well mostly everyone out there,
it never fails, there is always someone not catching, but at least they are fishing.
This has been the best summer in the surf we have had so far for fishing and catching. I hear anglers mention summer fishing is bad in the surf, blah blah blah, not this year. It also seems that more are actually fishing, maybe because they can actually catch a fish?
The offshore action has been great for anglers finding the meat. Tuna, mahi, sharks, tilefish, and the usual suspects. The canyons have been producing and closer in shore as well for mahi under structure. Check out the charters in Lewes, Indian River Inlet, and Ocean City to get out and catch.
The fish of the summer is always flounder and that as usual for this time of year is difficult for keepers among so many throwbacks. Especially in the inland bays, Lewes canal, and surrounding waters. The Delaware Bay and offshore will hold much larger flounder. Either people aren’t fishing for big flounder specifically or they just don’t come this close to shore anymore. I think it is a combination of both.
With the bays filling in more it is harder for the larger fish to hide and hunt. They prefer darker bottoms, with all the sand bars and filled in areas, it has created a much lighter sandy bottom in many areas. Flounder avoid those areas, except at night they will come to the shallows to hunt fish. Also big bait catches big fish. Using small minnows and small Gulp will present a smaller target to a fish. Large fish will not eat small meals. In other words they won’t expend more energy than they will gain from the meal they have to chase. They know this like we know how to breathe, it just is how it is for fish. Use bigger baits around the inland bays and target bigger flounder in darker bottom waters.
Offshore flounder fishing has been better than inshore and that has been hit or miss, as soon as it gets better it gets worse. Fishing, go figure. At least you can catch it by the pound at the seafood shack. They are using bigger baits offshore for flounder too, which is one reason they are catching bigger fish.
Small summer fish
The surf has been on fire for the small summer fish. Kingfish, spot, croaker, cusk eels, sand perch, weakfish, and burrfish. All are being caught on Fishbites formulas of sand flea, crab, squid, and bloodworms. Real bloodworms are working as well as squid and clam. The line hits the water and the fish hit it instantly in some areas. Some people are getting skunked. They are casting too far. The ledge where the beach drops off in the surf when you walk in, the fish are behind that feeding. Just behind the the breaking wave where it lifts up is where you want to drop your line. The moving water stirs up the critters in the sand and the fish feed on them, then the big fish move in to feed on the little fish. Cast short in the surf and see if your chances improve.
Have a spoon at the ready on a casting rod for the schools of fish moving by in the surf. The bunker and silversides swim by followed by summer bluefish and spanish mackerel have been abundant. Just toss out a stingsilver, silver spoon, or any metal that is shiny and match the color, silver is your best bet with hints of blue or green. Then cast and reel fast, and see what happens.
Catching blues on a spoon is much more fun than a mullet rig sitting there. Mullet rigs are working well. The DS Custom Tackle Modified mullet rig is hands down the best mullet rig you will ever use. The anchor hook below the float keeps your bait on the rig and in place for catching fish, not feeding them. Friends of mine have been putting squid on their modified mullet rigs to purposely catch skates. Some of us like to eat skate, it’s good and as we all know, plentiful in numbers to catch.
The water has been clearing up after the last set of storms. The fishing is tough on the rough water days, but picks right back up on the calm days between. Clamming has been good at low tide around the inland bays and at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier. Great experience for the kids.
Crabbing at inland bays
The crabbing has been great around the inland bays. The Long Neck crab races were exciting last weekend. A great event held at the Amvets in Long Neck and all monies are donated to local charities, including the host venue. Spectators bet on the crabs and these crabs “race” down a ramp once the chute is dropped. It is hilarious to watch, the crowd really gets into it, and the crabs are steamed up later. The winnah is dinnah!
The crab races happen every year around the Fourth of July weekend, look for it next year. You’ve never had so much fun with your food!
Triggerfish are around the outer and inner walls ans well as the inlets at Indian River and Ocean City. I am hoping to see some at the Cape Henlopen pier like the past couple of years. Small hooks and clam are great for that action.
Sheepshead are being caught at the Indian River Inlet and some of the walls. Sand fleas are the best baits for them. Anglers sand fleaing for bass are licking up the sheepshead. Sand fleaing for bass is fun. Take a handful of sand fleas and toss them in the water. The bass will feed on them like pigeons on seed. Then you toss a couple fleas onto a six aught hook and cast it into the area you seeded with fleas. These are usually all short bass but there have been some keeper sized bass caught recently.
Mullet are starting to move around the inland bays in large schools. Some of them are huge, but for the most part they are under 2 inches in length. Get your cast netting skills honed for the mullet run. Fresh mullet is so much better to fish with than frozen.
Pond hopping has been much better in the early mornings and late evenings. Mostly due too the ridiculous heat we have been seeing the past week. Hard to fish when you can’t see for the sweat in your eyes. Stay hydrated if you do fish during the day.
This weekend is the fifth in the DSF’s Summer Surf Fishing Slam Series. I expect to see a lot of fish caught during this, and hopefully scored as well. Seems the smaller fish hit on that Saturday and the bigger fish the following Sunday. The curse of tournament fishing. It has been fun to follow everyone fishing on Saturday during the summer slam.
Enjoy the outdoors and get in some fishing, it has been productive this year. Have a safe weekend.
Rich King’s outdoors column runs Thursdays in the Delaware State News.