End-of-summer fishing never changes; just the catching

September 4, 2014
That’s a cownose ray caught by Jay Ratcliffe. SOURCE DELAWARE-SURF-FISHING.COM

Well, it seems like just yesterday that the summer season began. No worries though; the fishing will just get better. With cooler days on the beach and on the water, fall fishing should abide this year. We are hoping the fall striper run starts earlier this year and actually happens in "Rocktober" as in years past. With the milder summer and cooler water temperatures it is likely that we will see that happen.

Slot season in the Delaware Bay and its tributaries for striped bass ended on the 31st of August as did tautog season. Fishing has been great most days. Flounder are still the hot catch. The Old Grounds looked like a parking lot on Saturday, but for the most part, everyone was catching. Sea bass are in the mix and we are seeing bluefish slowly increasing in size. The average blues are upwards of twenty inches. There are a lot of the little blues chasing peanut bunker everywhere as far up as Cupola Park in Millsboro. Mullet are starting to show up in the inland bays and sloughs. They are small and minimal in numbers, but that will change soon enough.

The Point in Cape Henlopen opened on Wednesday and it was nice to be out there all by my lonesome fishing my favorite area. The fishing there is great. Most of the time you have the option of fishing the ocean surf or the bayside below the flats of Cape Henlopen. You never know what you will see out there. In the off season people ride horses on the beach and some have small wagons or carriages. The Kalmar Nyckel, Delaware's Tall Ship, will often pass by when it is on a tour. The Cape May-Lewes Ferry is always going by, along with lots of boats. It is a very active place. The other day I had a jawbone with a tooth still in place wash up at my feet. I am working on what it is from, but was a neat find. The water was moving so fast across the point this weekend that it was nearly impossible to hold bottom with 8 ounces of weight. Even sputnik sinkers were not working. That area of the point has some serious water movement, you can see just how fast and strong it is when boats try to cross the area and it bogs them down going against the current.

Croaker, kingfish, bluefish, flounder, spot, dogfish, skates, rays and sharks have been pulled from the surf and area waters all week. Fishbites bloodworms, live bloodworms, mullet, squid, and Gulp have been the best baits. Peeler crab and clam are producing as well. That is one problem with fishing; deciding which arsenal of bait to use, or to just go with lures and flies. That all depends on the angler and in all cases what the fish are biting that day. Matching the baitfish is always key, because that is what the fish are chasing. Stocking up on a variety of bait can get a little costly.

The offshore action has been decent. I have seen pictures of a lot of white marlin releases this week. Tilefish are still hitting out there, as well as mahi and tuna. In fact mahi are still occasionally being caught at the Old Grounds.

We have been seeing all kinds of fish in the surf this summer, and sharks have been abundant. Please make sure you can identify the shark before you remove it from the water!  The prohibited species are not to be removed, but many people don’t know the difference. I watched a guy pull in a shark the other day, land it on the surf, drag it up the beach to the dry sand, hold it up for pictures, and then toss it back in the surf just as the wave was going out. The shark hit the sand like meat slammed on a wet countertop. All I could do was cringe; you could hear it a hundred yards away. If you are going to release a fish at least try to do so in a manner that the animal is not any further stressed or injured. That toss back into the surf was the equivalent of throwing a person twenty feet in the air onto wet concrete.  

The end of summer fishing never changes; just the frequency of the catching. The surf temperatures never hit eighty degrees this year.

The inland bays even stayed mild in temperature, which is one of the reasons the crabbing has not been so great.

But it’s also why we are seeing a lot of nice flounder catches out there. Clamming is always good if you can find a nice spot.

Fish on!