Anglers rewarded with big catches

October 10, 2020

Just when you thought the flounder season was over, Paul Elwood goes out on the Katydid and catches a 12.69-pounder. That is the largest flounder caught in Delaware in 2020, and the way things are going, I’m not going to say it will be the largest caught before the year is up.

Flounder are not the only big fish being landed. Barry Sheetz was on the Grizzly when he connected with a 4.5-pound black sea bass. Barry was fishing with that good old standby squid. To the best of my knowledge, that is the largest sea bass caught in Delaware this year.

Neither fish came close to the state record. The flounder record is 17 pounds, 15 ounces caught by William Kendall in 1974, and the black sea bass record was set at seven pounds, eight ounces by Steve Samluk back in 1988.

It may be my imagination, but it seems like we have caught more and larger flounder this year than in the past several years. Five- and six-pounders were common, and there were plenty of eight-pounders. An 11-pounder caught a few weeks ago should have held the top spot for 2020, but the more recent 12-pounder blew it away. I will be anxious to see how many citations were issued in Delaware for flounder in 2020. There were only seven in 2019.

Another good news story is the appearance of larger trout (weakfish). Anglers and captains who know what they are doing seem to have no trouble finding their one-fish limit in the bay and now in the ocean. Trout have been coming on stronger for the past few years and I can only hope they will continue to increase their population.

Indian River Inlet

On Tuesday morning, I went down to Indian River Inlet to catch the last of the incoming current. As usual, I parked on the northside and walked down to the area just west of the fenced-off sidewalk to survey the situation.

The first thing I noticed were three men fishing from the handicap pier. That proved entertaining to watch as they all jockeyed for position with multi-label rods, chairs and coolers.

I then noticed that the usual terns working under the bridge had been replaced by laughing gulls. This is an indication that catchable fish were feeding in that rip.

I returned to my truck and came back with a Stingsilver and shad dart combination. I had a fish on the first cast, but it came off before I could see what it was. The second cast was more successful and I released a small shad. Dropped a couple more before hanging up my rig on the bottom. By the time I retied, the bite was over.

I have been fishing Indian River Inlet for the better part of 70 years and I have observed a few things. Unfortunately, many other anglers have not made the effort to learn the way of the water.

A white bucktail with a white worm is the best overall lure to fish for rockfish at the inlet. However, it won’t work on shad, and bluefish will tear it to shreds.

If I am fishing and birds are working, but nothing is hitting my bucktail, I will switch to a shad dart either behind a Stingsilver or a trolling sinker. If I start catching bluefish, I will remove what’s left of my bucktail and replace it with a metal lure like a Stingsilver.

Some people stick their noses up at shad, but they are fun to catch. Sure beats the heck out of tossing bucktails all day and catching nothing.

When I used to bottomfish the inlet, I used a 12-foot surf rod. I would bait with sand fleas or bloodworms and use a single-hook rig that I dropped straight down from the end of the rod into the rocks. In effect, I used the surf rod as a cane pole. I would hook a fish and yank it right out of the water and up on the sidewalk.

One afternoon, my wife’s aunt and uncle backed their camper right up to the sidewalk and Aunt Nellie would grab the rockfish, remove the hook, clean and cook the catch and bring me the results while I was still fishing. Talk about fresh-caught fish.

Indian River Inlet is just like any other tidal fishing locations; it is always changing. You have to read what is going on and take what the water gives you. Most times it is very stingy, but there will be days and nights when it will bless you with a bountiful catch.


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