Striper fishing solid in upper bay

April 21, 2012

Striper fishing in the upper bay has been very good with fish in excess of 30 pounds caught on bunker chunks. No reports of rock at the Rips, but they could show up at any time.

In the lower bay, the tog action improved last weekend with several boats recording three-fish limits for all onboard. Many anglers are releasing large females because the fish are ripe with roe. With the low bag limit it is easy to put three large males in the cooler and let the ladies produce our future fishery.

The occasional rockfish is caught from the surf on fresh bunker with dogfish and skates the more likely take. Joey Arrowood was one of the fortunate few with a 23-pound, 9-ounce rockfish caught at Herring Point last Friday. The inlet was pretty slow with just a few rock and tog caught last week.

Flounder catches have been spotty since the cooler weather and high winds of last week. The canal, Indian River Bay and the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier have seen some keepers.

New Jersey adventure
Last Thursday I drove up to my son’s new home in Freehold, New Jersey, so we could get an early start for our fishing trip on Friday. We had planned to fish one day last week, and Friday was the only day the wind did not blow a gale.

Up at 5 a.m., on the road by 6 and at the dock in Point Pleasant by 6:30 for a 7:30 departure. The parking lot was half full when we got there, and all the spots on the bow and stern were already taken. Obviously, a lot of people were waiting for good weather to get out on the water.

The Dauntless was underway right on time at 7:30, and about an hour later we were anchored up over some rocky bottom about 5 miles off of Long Branch, New Jersey. As soon as some baits hit bottom they were attacked by ling, the target species, and fish were flying over the rail. They were catching to our left; they were catching to our right, but for Roger and me, not so much.

On Thursday night we tied up bottom rigs just for ling using information Roger had gathered from the internet. According to info the hot setup was a 5/0 hook decorated with a plastic squid in green or orange. We tied up six rigs with both colors and thought we were ready for an onslaught of fish.

After watching pretty much everyone on the boat catch ling while we hauled water and fed bergalls, I began to observe the rigs successful anglers were employing. No one had anything on the hook other than clam and a strip of green Gulp. Fortunately, I never go fishing without a supply of Gulp. I soon removed the green and orange plastic squids to be replaced by the tails from Gulp green swimming mullets.

This change did help, but while our catch rate improved, it was still way below average for the boat. I began to watch my rail mates intently. When their rod tip would bounce once they would drop the rod to put slack in the line, then after a few seconds raise the rod back up to set the hook. Roger and I, with our lightning-quick reflexes, were trying to set the hook too soon.

By using the drop-and-wait technique, we finally started catching a few ling, but were way behind the local sharpies. Some of these folks already had 30 or 40 ling in the box while Roger and I combined for a grand total of 19.

In addition to the ling, there were a fair number of ocean pout taken, and we had our share. Having never caught one before, I asked the mate if they were good to eat. He said yes, and ocean pout began to fill our cooler.

Not exactly the most beautiful fish in the ocean, with a big mouth full of teeth, they were much larger than the ling and looked a little like big, fat eels. I don’t know if that is why most folks on the boat set them loose, but we kept ours.

The captain gave us a full day, finally pulling anchor at 3 p.m., putting us back at the dock by 4 p.m.. I considered letting the mates clean our fish, but at $3 each I decided to let Joe Morris at Lewes Harbour Marina have the work. His prices are much more reasonable.

Barbara and I had our first meal of ocean pout on Saturday night and found them to be delicious. The meat is white and mild, something like flounder.

I do want to get back out on a ling trip again, proving I can catch them, and hopefully get some more of those ocean pout.

  • 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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