Book charters now for great offshore fishing

July 16, 2011
Frank Frabizzio pulled this 38-pound tilefish from the bottom of Baltimore Canyon aboard the Sea Hunter with Capt. Jason Burris. BY SUBMITTED

Fishing remains in a summertime pattern and that is OK.  Flounder were caught over reef sites in the bay, in the shallow water along the beach from Lewes to Broadkill, the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, the Broadkill River and from the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier.

While flounder catching is good, flounder keeping is slow as most are well below the 18-inch minimum size. Various baits including minnows, shiners, strip baits and Gulp! have all accounted for flounder catches.

Live spot are the key to keeper flounder at Indian River Inlet. In addition, big bluefish and rockfish have been taken on this bait.

You can catch your own spot or purchase them from several tackle shops. The going price is north of $2 each, so catching your own can save money and provide a little additional sport.

Catching spot is easy once you find them. At Indian River, the area at the entrance to Northside Marina, the channel above the junction buoy at Massey’s Ditch and the VFW Slough would be good places to begin the search.

The quickest method is to use a Sabiki rig baited with small pieces of bloodworm, FishBites or Gulp!

Drop this into a school of spot and you should be able to fill your live well in short order. You can also use a double hook bottom rig baited with the same offerings.

You must have some sort of device to keep the spot alive once you have them. Most new boats have a live well, and that will do the job. Those without a built-in live well must make their own.

I have used a cooler with a bilge pump to keep spot alive since the weakfish runs of the 1970s and ‘80s.

It is simple to construct and will keep three dozen spot happy all day.

Begin with a 30-quart or larger cooler, a section of plastic tubing and a length of 1- to 1 1/2-inch PVC pipe. Place the pump in the bottom of the cooler and connect it to the PVC pipe with the plastic tubing. Drill 1/4-inch holes along the pipe spaced about 1 inch apart and cap the end.

Hang the pipe from the cooler hinges using 50-pound fishing line. With the cooler filled about 3/4 full the pump will circulate enough water to keep the fish alive. This type of container also keeps the water fairly cool on a warm summer day. I do change out the water about every hour.

I connect the leads from the pump to the battery using alligator clips. You can make a more permanent connection by wiring two leads from the battery to an outlet and then attach a plug to the leads from the pump.

I rig live spot on a circle hook by putting the hook through the eye sockets of the bait. I like 50-pound Ande mono line for my 3-foot leader.

Many anglers will use a fish-finder rig so the rock or flounder has time to swallow the bait before the fisherman comes tight on the line. When fishing in water less than 10 feet deep the spot can be used without any weight.

Tog fishing at the Outer and Inner walls has been spotty. Crab baits have produced for some and not for others. Sheepshead and triggerfish are available in the same location on the same baits.

Wrecks and reef sites in the ocean have given up tog, flounder, sea bass, triggerfish and cod. Once again, the high size limits for sea bass and flounder have severely limited the take-home catch.

Bucktails heavy enough to reach and hold bottom with a teaser added a foot or so above the bucktail has been a good setup for most of these fish. Triggerfish require a bottom rig employing small hooks baited with crab, clam, FishBites or Gulp!

Those who troll the inshore waters are catching small blues and some Spanish mackerel. Small spoons or bucktails will take these fish.

Offshore fishing remains very good. Trollers are connecting with bluefin, yellowfin, dolphin, wahoo, and white and blue marlin. Over the weekend the Poorman’s was the hot area, but this is subject to change without notice. Deep droppers are connecting with tilefish and larger sea bass.

If you have ever wanted a great offshore fishing experience, now is the time to book one of the charter boats out of Lewes or Indian River.

While past performance is not a guarantee of future success, the fishing is excellent right now and limit catches of tuna with some billfish and dolphin mixed in are certainly a good possibility.

Most captains have open dates and will be happy to book one for you and your friends.

  • 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