It’s summertime and fishing’s fine
So far it has been an uneventful week, well, at least nothing has burst into flames and no one had to land on a closed beach. The hurricane stirred up the water and carved the beaches a bit, but the water is clearing up nicely and the beaches are getting smoother, returning to the normal sharp slope to the surf. Jersey was hit with record low temperatures from an upwelling of cold water due to southern winds, and our water chilled a bit after the hurricane. We have seen bluefish, dogfish, kingfish, croaker, spotted hake and spot in the surf and even a few flounder this week.
The fishing has been random at the beach, but it’s still a good time in the sandbox. One day the southern beaches in Fenwick Island State park are good for bluefish and the next day Cape Henlopen is the hot spot; further proof that fish tend not to sit in one area too long. The last two hours of the incoming tide and first two hours of the outgoing tide have been the best times to fish with top and bottom rigs or mullet rigs. Honestly, using a large striper or bluefish rig with a big chunk of bunker is just a waste of time unless you want to catch skates, rays, or sharks. The water has that nice bluish green hue to it and is rather clear. Fishbites, bloodworm or clam formulas and frozen mullet are the best baits. Sand fleas and peeler crab are working well too. You can dig for sand fleas, and you may find a peeler in your crab pots. Make sure you do not check other people's crab pots! That is not legal and people can get a little excited when they see someone checking their pots. People in Pot-Nets Bayside are still having issues with their pots being poached.
Weakfish still biting
Weakfish are still great action in the inland bays, Roosevelt Inlet, Indian River Inlet, Lewes Canal, and Delaware Bay beaches. The catches are not heavy or frequent but they are catching some nice sizes when the bite turns. If people would like to see more of these every year they should let them go more often than keeping. I know it’s hard to let a fish go that tastes so good, but their bouncing back is just beginning. It would be nice to see the Delaware State Fish come back in larger numbers and sizes. If you would like to learn more about helping the weakfish in Delaware, check out the CCA DE chapter. They have some ideas they are working on to help protect the state fish stocks. The group is also working on ideas to help preserve the fishery in Delaware. They attend all the DNREC meetings in Dover to keep anglers updated on what is going on with new legislation. Recently the poaching laws in Delaware were changed and that is about to pass and be signed into legislation.
Flounder pounding has been great, even in the surf at times. The Old Grounds, Delaware Bay sites, Henlopen fishing pier, inland bays, Massey’s landing, Lewes Canal, Broadkill River, and Canary Creek. Many areas are producing catches and the baits have been mostly minnows or Gulp. The fly fishing club has seen some decent flounder at the Henlopen flats when the boys meet up for their trips. The charters have been doing great and, to name a few, we recommend Captain Chris Ragni (302) 531-6031 fishing the Quintessa and Blue Collarman; Captain Chuck Cook of First Light Charters (302) 853-5717, and Captain Brian Wazlavek with Delaware Family Fishing (302) 430-3414. Tell them DSF sent you - it might get you a better deal. These folks can definitely put you on the fish. Otherwise there is nothing like a lazy drift in the bay while doing a little flounder fishing. And sitting on the shore and jigging for flounder from the piers or surf is always a fun day.
Where have all the redfish gone?
Where are all the redfish we saw last year? Alex Tkachuk caught a just under the size limit redfish (red drum) several days ago at the Indian River Inlet while flounder fishing. Archie Fretz caught an undersized puppy drum (black drum) at Cupola Park the other day. We know they are out there but just haven’t seen a lot of them so far this year. Hoping that will change soon; redfish make a fine meal as do puppy drum. Remember black drum (puppy drum) have to be sixteen inches in all Delaware waters this year to keep them, with a limit of three per day. Depending on where you’re from will govern what you consider a puppy drum. Many call black drum puppy drum and small red drum redfish in this area. However some call all small drum puppy drum, and in Maryland they call small red drum channel bass. Just depends on where you are and who you’re talking to.
Croaker are still all over the place, in fact it is almost impossible not to catch them. They are numerous in schools and in decent sizes. We’ve seen catches farther up the Delaware Bay than Port Mahon. Fishbites bloodworm formula works well on them and the clam or crab formula isn't bad either. Squid works great too, particularly the smaller whole squid that you thaw and cut your own pieces. Top and bottom rigs with 2/0 hooks are working the best. Floats on the rigs are tional, I don't think he hungry croaker care. Spot are hitting the same baits and rigs. The Lewes Canal is full of croaker if you want an easy place to take the kids from shore or drifting in the boat. Try the Canalfront Park pier or the old boat ramp near the Overfalls Lightship.
Striped bass slot season started on July first: 20 – 26 inch fish may be retained from July 1 – Aug. 31 in DE River, DE Bay & their tribs (DE waters only). Just a heads up but the train bridge (near the drawbridge) to the Roosevelt Inlet is considered a tributary and is legal for slot fishing for striped bass. There have been a lot of shorts caught at the Indian River Inlet at night on tandem bucktails, or tied up like speck rigs near the walls. This is mostly at night, but you will catch some during the day on the incoming tide close to the rock walls. A popper worked along the rock wall will produce some as well, but can be tricky when it’s crowded. The inner and outer walls in the Delaware Bay are holding a lot of nice slot-sized striped bass. Several of the sites and shoals will see some action as well. You just have to find the fish. The Lewes Canal and Broadkill River are decent spots to try. Hint: Fish like you are fishing for bass in a lake or pond; not pattern fishing, but look for structure and grassy areas they can feed. Throw your lures near the structure or into the grass lines near the shore. A nice ultralight setup makes for a lot of fun catching.
Nothing like long cruise off shore
Offshore action has been great for mahi mahi, tuna, tilefish, and sharks. The charters and private boats have been doing well once they find the fish. The canyons to the hambone have been hot one day and not the next – and that depends on who you ask.
Nothing like a long cruise off shore and all the sea life you see along the way. Crabbing and clamming are still decent; again, you just have to find a good spot.
Everyone is still talking about the proposed surf-fishing regulations being changed for the beaches. In fact it’s all I’ve been hearing about since it was proposed. My best advice is to contact your state representatives and voice your concerns to them … nicely. Something certainly needs to be done to cut down on the traffic on the beach on the weekends. Limiting the number of vehicles allowed on a beach at one time would probably be the best solution.
As far as having to surf fish, if the guy who doesn't want to fish doesn't have to put his gear in your way, then that’s one less line to get tangled. However letting people swim on an unguarded beach is not a good idea either.
Also if the surf fishing rule is reversed it will affect many bait shops that sell people the gear and bait they need to be on the beach. This proposal has a much larger impact than people realize. The issue of too much traffic only occurs on the weekends and holidays. I was on the beach Wednesday and there were fewer than twenty vehicles on a mile of beach. The people who are parking five deep and ten vehicles wide is not safe either, regardless if they are all "fishing."
When that Jeep caught on fire last week, what if that had happened in the middle of a lot of vehicles? Enforcement is overwhelmed from the weekend traffic and you have to realize they don't just watch the beaches; they have an entire park to deal with too.
Not to mention that Cape Henlopen has to watch Beach Plum Island, and Delaware Seashore State Park is responsible for Fenwick Island State Park. These folks are spread a little thin, so try to cut them a break when you are complaining. If you think you could help out, then volunteer to work in the parks. Have a great weekend, and go fish a catch!