Good weather rewards anglers

October 28, 2017

The run of good weather over the weekend had anglers out on the bay, and they were rewarded with a few good fish.

Sheepshead and tog made up the bulk of the catch with the Outer Wall, reef sites, the Ice Breakers and the rocks around the Brandywine Light a few of the most productive locations. Green crabs and sand fleas were the top baits.

In the upper bay, one or two keeper rockfish were caught at Augustine Beach and the fishing pier at Woodland Beach. Bloodworms, cut bunker and peeler crab made the best baits. My guess is these 28- to 31-inch rock are resident fish. The ocean stock is still in North Jersey.

The tidal creeks and rivers hold white perch, catfish and small rockfish. Bloodworms and cut bunker will take all three species.

The tackle shop at the fishing pier in Cape Henlopen State Park has closed for the season. The pier remains open, but you will have to buy your bait and license at some other location. The last report I had from the pier indicated everything is pretty much the same, small blues and flounder with the occasional keeper.

Inshore ocean

Sunday saw the reopening of the sea bass season, and many fish died. Several charter boats caught their limit, as did some private boats. I fished Monday aboard the Katydid, and we boxed a nine-man limit in four hours of fast fishing. Clams and squid were the best baits. Bluefish, triggerfish and flounder were mixed with the sea bass.  Most of the fleet worked the Del-Jersey-Land Reef.

Anglers also made some pretty good catches of tog. Still a lot of shorts, but keepers to 9 pounds were landed on sand fleas, green crabs and box crabs. Reef sites and wrecks provided most of the tog action.

Offshore ocean

A few swordfish were caught out of Indian River Inlet and Ocean City, Md., during the run of good weather. These were daytime catches.

Dolphin made up the remainder of the offshore catch.

Indian River Inlet

Lots of small tog from the rocks at the inlet on green crabs and sand fleas. A few keepers have been mixed in with the shorts.

The occasional keeper rockfish is taken after dark on sand fleas and bucktails. Last Saturday there was a run of false albacore and herring through the inlet. This happened around dawn on incoming water.

Surf fishing

Finally, a little excitement along the beach. False albacore showed up within casting range at Cape Henlopen Point, Herring Point, Conquest Road and Three Rs Road. Albacore is a very fast-moving fish that drives bait to the beach, feeds like crazy then moves off. It is one of those that if you are not there when they come by you have missed them.  Early morning is the best time, but these fish will feed all day.

Make your cast in front of the moving fish using a small metal lure. Crank the lure back to the beach as fast as you can and make sure your drag is set properly. I do not find the meat to my liking, but some cultures love the taste.

Bottom fish remains a game of tiny blues, small kings and the occasional red drum. Bunker, mullet and sand fleas have been the top baits.


White Clay Creek has been stocked with trout and the weather looks very good for some fall catching. Not nearly as many folks show up for the fall fishing, so you can have some peace and quiet on these lovely days.

The water in Red Mill Pond is sort of a sickly green and all the vegetation is still in full bloom. Early morning action should be good on top-water lures worked along the shoreline.

The upper reaches of the tidal rivers and creeks will see good bass action along with some crappie and pickerel. Jigs, crankbaits and live shiners will all work on these fish.

Rockfish run

The big question I hear is when will the rockfish arrive. My answer is I have no idea. Right now, they are starting to catch some migratory stripers in North Jersey, but if you recall, last fall the fish made it as far south as Wildwood and then disappeared.

The truth is it all depends on the weather. If we continue to have mild temperatures and east winds, the stripers could be here in late November or early December. Should we get very cold weather and lots of northwest winds, they may not show up in range of Delaware anglers at all.

Striped bass fishing in Delaware has been pretty poor since Superstorm Sandy. We have had excellent runs of big blues in the spring since that storm, but not much on the rockfish.

All I can say is keep checking the fishing reports and I promise to let you know if and when the stripers arrive.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at