Croakers are in the Delaware Bay

Matt DiSabatino took advantage of yellowfins showing at the HotDog, and chummed a bunch of tuna to the back of the boat using live minnows.He presented a fly to the frenzied fish, and here's the result, a 32.5-pound yellowfin he boated after an exciting battle on his fly rod. COURTESY LEWES HARBOUR MARINA
July 30, 2011

Hurray, hurray croakers are in Delaware Bay. I stopped by Lewes Harbour Marina on Wednesday afternoon, and Joe Morris was cleaning a nice catch of croakers taken on Reef Site 8 from the Pirate King. He also cleaned a mixed bag of ling and flounder caught in the ocean from the Angler. For those unfamiliar with ling or red hake they are a very tasty fish with a fine white meat. They have a soft body and should be handled with care once onboard the boat. Lay them on top of the ice in the cooler; do not pour ice on top of the ling.

Offshore fishing has been very good. A friend of mine who runs out of Ocean City went five for seven on white marlin in the Baltimore Canyon on Tuesday.

With numbers like that, the White Marlin Open should be an exciting contest. The tournament begins Monday, Aug. 8, and runs until Friday, Aug. 12. There should be at least 300 boats sailing out of the Ocean City Inlet on Monday morning as everyone fishes the first day because any ties are broken by time of catch, so all hands want to be on the board as early as possible on opening day. Each captain selects three of the five days to fish.

I have fished in many of these events from the first one to 2009. I missed 2010, but will be back out this year in the Volvo Penta 70-foot Spencer, Penta Gone. Volvo uses this boat to demonstrate its pod drives, a revolutionary system that combines outdrives with diesel power. This powertrain makes the boat very maneuverable, and it runs so quiet you have to listen for the engine noise.

The inshore lumps from 20 to 30 fathoms have produced good numbers of yellowfin and a few big bluefin tuna. Chunking is becoming more widespread as the surface water warms. Dolphin have been taken along with the tuna.

The buoy line is producing bluefish and a few Spanish mackerel for trollers pulling small spoons and bucktails. The larger king mackerel should make an appearance any day.
Bottom fishing at B Buoy, A Buoy and the Old Grounds has been good for flounder and ling. Sea bass are there as well with most short of the 12.5-inch minimum size.

Delaware Bay is giving up some decent flounder. On Saturday I fished out of Bowers Beach on the Captain’s Lady. As with all head boat trips the more experienced anglers did well, but everyone who gave it try caught something. Capt. Bob Trowbridge fished Reef Site 4 and put the boat right on top of the various structures. Anglers who were prepared to send their bait to the bottom as soon as the boat stopped had greater success than those who waited until the boat drifted off the structure onto open bottom.

I always enjoy fishing from a head boat. I meet interesting people and love to watch families have fun.

Kevin Turner II and his dad fished next to me, and the young man worked as hard as anyone on board. His efforts were rewarded with the pool-winning flounder.

Now that croakers are in the bay, it should be easier to put some fresh fish in your cooler. Head boats run out of Lewes, Bowers Beach and Indian River Inlet. The cost is reasonable and the fun is priceless.

Big flounder, bluefish and rockfish have been caught out of Indian River Inlet. Two guys, both fishing with flies behind a sinker, caught a 12-pound flounder and 12-pound bluefish while trying to catch rockfish. Live spot remains the best bait for catching blues, flounder and rock, with the incoming current in the morning or evening the best time to fish.

Surf fishing is what it is in the summer. Expect to catch croaker, kings, small blues and spot from the beach between Cape Henlopen and Fenwick Island. I gave it a try on Wednesday, and while I did not catch any fish, I did enjoy the scenery at Cape Henlopen State Park. The water, the waves, the dolphins and the deep blue sky were just gorgeous.

There are only five weeks of summer left, and if you like to fish, now is the time to go. I know fuel is high and money is short, but neither are going to change much between now and September. Get out for a day on the water in your own boat, a friend’s boat, a charter or head boat to take advantage of the summertime fishing while the weather is good. You don’t want to spend the winter wishing you had fished more when you had the chance.

  • 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

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