Inshore anglers see big improvement in flounder

July 7, 2012
Ocean flounder fishing has been hot. Blake and Donna Reed, Josh and Henry Sharp, and "Flint" put together this very respectable limit of 20 quality flatfish while drifting the Old Grounds using cut baits. COURTESY LEWES HARBOUR MARINA

Inshore anglers finally got some action as flounder fishing improved in Delaware Bay, Indian River Inlet and along the channel from B Buoy to A Buoy. Fish in excess of 5 pounds have been caught from these locations with a few topping the 9-pound mark.

The live spot bite at the inlet is really good as the fish are staged close to the rocks. In the Delaware Bay, reef sites provide most of the action, and the bait must be presented directly on top of the structure. Out in the ocean, Reef Site 10 is giving up big flounder as are the rough bottoms between A and B buoys.

We fished near B Buoy and the Old Grounds last Thursday, catching several short flounder and 10 keeper sea bass. Our efforts were directed at sea bass while a boat fishing nearby targeted flounder and ended up with several fish to 8.25 pounds.

For the sea bass we were using top-bottom rigs baited with clam. Flounder fishermen employ single-hook rigs with 12- to 18-inch leaders baited with strips of cut bait, squid or live minnows. I am sure live spot would work here as well if you are able to transport the bait to the grounds. We needed 8 ounces to hold bottom in 80 to 90 feet of water, so light tackle is out of the question. Bring plenty of rigs and sinkers as the rocks and bass pots have big appetites.

The tuna bite slowed a bit as warmer water moved into the canyons. This is normal, and while the tuna may be thinning out, the marlin, dolphin and wahoo are moving in.

We had reports of tuna on the chunk at the Hot Dog, and this bite will improve over the next few weeks. The nighttime chunking bite in the canyons will begin any day.

Small croaker and spot were caught from the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier on bloodworms. The same fish were taken on the same bait along Broadkill Beach and in the Broadkill River.

The summer rockfish season is open with a slot limit of 20 to 26 inches for fish caught out of the Delaware Bay and its tributaries. The bag limit is two per day, and this regulation only applies to Delaware waters. New Jersey has a 28-inch minimum size and two-fish bag limit.

The best time to catch a rockfish in the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal and the Broadkill River is just before dawn. Once the sun is high and the boat traffic increases, the rockfish bite drops off. Some dedicated anglers fish at night, finding rock under dock lights.

I have had conflicting reports about crabbing. Some say it is good in the Broadkill and Mispillion rivers while reports from upstate claim crabbing is slow.

Boat cleaning tips

I have fished with boat owners who are so anal retentive they wipe up every little drop of water on the dash that leaks through the space between the canvas and the window. I have also been on other boats where the owner did nothing to keep the boat clean to the point that the seat cushions were black from mildew. Given a choice, I prefer the guy wiping up the drops on the dash.

I was taught a long time ago that the trip is not over until the boat is clean. When I ran charters, we usually were back at the dock by 3 or 4 p.m., but I did not leave until 5, after giving the boat a good cleaning. Considering I was at the dock by 5 a.m., it made for a long day.

Cleaning a trailer boat is not that difficult and only takes an hour or so. Begin at the top and work down, finishing by rinsing off the trailer, giving particular attention to the wheels.

In the case of my 24-Albemarle, I used lemon Joy dish detergent on the outside from the top to the deck. To clean the deck and the gunnels I used Soft Scrub with bleach. I would squeeze it on, scrub the area down with my deck brush then rinse well.

On most trips I had a dirty cooler that was reeking of dead fish and covered with slime and blood. Soft Scrub with bleach was used on the inside and outside of the cooler, then it was left to dry with the top open. If you don’t get the cooler clean you will not like the smell that greets you on the next trip.

My Albemarle was in dry storage, and there were always other fishermen around to stop me from working while relating the glory or the tragedy of the day’s trip. The fact that I played Jimmy Buffett music as loud as possible while cleaning the boat seemed to make the chore a pleasure.

  • 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