Summer’s bite is back

June 12, 2014
168 pound 68-inch fork length thresher shark caught by Jerry & Kyle McLaughlin near Delaware Lightship.

This has been a long week of fishing. Tuesday we helped the Hunters Helping Soldiers organization take SSG Dave "Doc" Green surf fishing. He has never been and the HHS group wanted to show him a grand time in the Delaware surf. We set up a nice comfortable area to fish, and had a ton of food on hand. Dave spent the weekend at the races in Dover, and when he was told they could possibly go surf fishing he was rather excited. Being from Oregon he doesn't get to the beach much. He is an avid hunter and angler, and has recently taken up fly fishing. I gave him some quick pointers for fishing the surf and he picked them up right away. We spent a good twelve hours on the beach, catching skates and finally he managed to catch a burrfish or spiny boxfish. He was content with just being on the beach surrounded by like-minded sportsmen and women. It was great time and we were honored that Hunters Helping Soldiers asked us for our help. It was a pleasure fishing with and meeting Dave "Doc" Green.  I thanked him for his service and presented him with a DSF hoodie and T-shirt. Thank a veteran anytime you can for his or her service and sacrifice for our freedom. They deserve that and much more.

The water has been averaging sixty-four degrees, and fishing in the surf has ranged from decent to not so hot. The beginning of the week it was OK and then it changed for the worse over the weekend. Friday I caught a few croaker and kingfish on Fishbites bloodworm formula. Bluefish are hitting mullet and cut bait. A few flounder have been caught on sand fleas, shorty striped bass on bloodworms, and puffers and burrfish on Fishbites and squid. Skates, rays, and dogfish have been plentiful. The bluefish have been hit-or-miss when they are around, and then shut down for the day.

Trout, weakfish biting

Trout or weakfish are being caught at the Delaware Bay beaches and Henlopen pier. The Roosevelt Inlet and Lewes Canal have produced a few. It would be nice to see these larger trout released so we have more and more for the following years. I talked to a fly angler a few days ago and he caught a nice sized weakfish, took a picture and released the fish. He said he hadn't caught one like that in over ten years and didn't have the heart to keep it for the dinner table. If we let more of the larger ones go we will see more in our future. They are definitely coming back, but their numbers are far from recovered. At the Henlopen Pier the other night you could hear them in the water, and it’s good to see them coming back larger in number and in size. Let’s give it a few years and the sizes will be back to days of old.  

The inland bays are seeing more and more croaker and spot. Flounder are increasing in numbers and you just have to find them. Crabbing is getting better as the water warms up. Massey’s Landing has seen some nice flounder, and the water has peaked to seventy-four degrees at low tide, then dropping back to sixty-five degrees at high tide. Indian River Inlet has been hot at times for shad, blues and short striped bass. When the birds are working the water you can be sure the fish are around. The bluefish will come on strong and then shut down almost as fast. It’s one of those “you have to be there when it happens” situations. Friday I saw a lot of shad come over the rail and the boats were doing OK, but the osprey were outfishing everybody. At least a dozen of them were working the water and flying rather low, a good indication the fish are closer to the surface.

A few keeper striped bass were pulled from the rock walls in the predawn hours. Flounder have also been caught at IRI, mostly on live minnows, but chartreuse Gulp swim mullets are also working. The south parking lot is finally open and it looks great, but it did seem weird not seeing campers at the campgrounds. It looked like winter and I don't like to be reminded of this past winter! Eventually that whole area will be completed and it will be a nice place to camp. Even though I live here I like to camp down there at least once a year, just for fun and some marathon fishing.

Offshore action

Offshore action is heating up with yellowfin, bluefin, and big-eye tuna. I have seen a lot of charters and private boats heading in and flying flags. A buddy of mine caught a nice load of tilefish and golden tilefish the other day and two of them were over fifty pounds. Sea bass action has been good, with some ling in the mix. Mako, thresher, and sand tiger shark action is heating up offshore. In fact, a local shop reported a large hammerhead the other day. Some mahi mahi were also caught in the past few days. The canyons are starting to produce some great catches, and the buoy areas are producing some nice flounder.  

Big drum are still being caught in the Delaware Bay. Weakfish are even in the Broadkill River just above the Lewes boat ramp. The bay beaches have also seen some nice runs of weakies. Flounder are in the bay and buoy areas, and kingfish and croaker are thick out there as well. The outer walls have striped bass and weakies around them as well as flounder. Many of the rock areas and structure are holding fish; you just have to get in there and put in the time. There’s lots of good kayak fishing in the flats and what structure is left of the old Henlopen fishing pier. Even the ferry wall has some decent fishing – just look out for that big boat full of cars! Speaking of the ferry, the other day the passengers were treated to the sight of a humpback whale while it was feeding in the Delaware Bay. Always an exciting experience. You have to keep your eyes open out there because you never know what you will see.

Last Thursday I attended the Millsboro Middle School health fair to teach kids about fishing safety. It was a lot of fun and this year it seems like more kids are into fishing. I talk to people all of the time about fishing and they always ask me how they can get their kids into fishing, particularly because they know so little about it themselves. I always suggest they check out the Solid Ground Youth Anglers Association. We will be helping the organization throughout the year by volunteering to teach kids and their parents to fish so they can experience this great pastime together. It is important to get kids outside to experience the great outdoors and teach them respect for nature. Take your kids fishing! Whether you catch anything or not, the memories will last a lifetime. And if the kids get bored, there’s always something to do at the beach. The pier areas usually have a lot of activity besides fishing. So you can't go wrong encouraging your kids to enjoy this great sport.

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