Best Fourth of July ever!
The holiday weekend started out like all of them, crowded and hot. Friday into Saturday we found spaces and had a good time catching fish. Then the weather shifted to cool rain on Sunday. The beaches were empty that morning. The roads were clear, and the parking lots were empty. Everyone was headed to the outlets and the movies. The diehard outdoorsy types went to the beach, and the fishing was decent in the morning. Some folks even hit the back bays and ran trot lines for crabs or drifted the canals and bays for flounder. It was just a little rain. Families that were camping in Cape Henlopen put on trash bags as rain parkas and rode or walked the trails. Many did not let the weather foul up their day.
Once the weather cleared, the traffic and all the holiday craziness was back to normal, except the fishing areas and beaches were not as bad as the past years. I spent all day Saturday telling everyone I was fishing that morning waiting for the grass to dry so I could mow. By the time I got home I blew off the grass and called it a day. The grass could wait - apparently until Tuesday because I went fishing until the grass dried.
Anglers are catching a lot of kingfish in the surf on Fishbites, bloodworm, crab, or sand flea formula. Other baits like live sand fleas and squid are doing okay, but the artificial will last longer and are less of a mess. Small weakfish are hitting the same baits and so are the little sand perch. The little weakies are all over the place. A few schools have been producing some fish up to eighteen inches. That is about as big as we have seen so far this year.
The cownose ray, skate and dogfish action is abundant as usual at the beach. Lot of big smooth rays or butterfly rays. They usually hit baits, but we had one hit a jighead we were casting. Scott Jost and I were trying to hit the other side of the second sand bar. On the last retrieve something that felt like a snag stopped that jig dead. When it started to move we knew we had a big something so we handed the rod to young Aiden. He has been getting into surf fishing and is visiting his grandparents so we gave him the rod to experience some serious pull. Many anglers don't like catching rays, but you have to reel one of these in just once.
Sand tiger sharks are all around the beaches. Land-based shark anglers and boat anglers are seeing great shark catches. DNREC Fish and Wildlife Enforcement wants to remind anglers that sand tiger, sandbar, and dusky sharks are not to be removed from the water, they are prohibited species.
Striped bass action around the Indian River Inlet has been great using sand fleas; short rockfish to the occasional keeper. Slot striped bass season in the Delaware Bay and tributaries has produced some nice catches. Anglers are using bucktails, swim shads, and rattle traps in the creeks and tributaries. The train bridge form the Lewes Canal to the Roosevelt Inlet is also considered a tributary.
The bluefish catches have switched up to the summer small snappers for the surf. There are still some nice-sized bluefish around, but the schools have all gone north. Offshore you will find big bluefish action that many just fish for to use them as shark bait.
Sea bass are hitting at the Old Grounds. The charter boats and head boats have been doing rather well for sea bass and flounder. The Morning Star out of Ocean City is trolling up bluefin tuna between sea bass fishing spots. The Lewes boats are filling the boxes. Offshore flounder is still better than inshore flounder. The inland bays and the canals are doable drifting with minnows and Gulp.
The offshore action has been hot for yellowfin, mahi mahi, marlin and now bluefin. Wahoo are starting to hit out there. Time to hire a boat and hit the deep blue for a little mayhem in the canyons. Lots of fun offshore - you never know what you will see.