Catching blues at Indian River Inlet

July 26, 2019

Last Friday, I fished Indian River Inlet from the sidewalk on the northside, just west of the bridge. I arrived around 5:45 a.m. as the tide was starting up, but the current was still running out. Waiting for the two to get together, I set up to bottom fish with FishBite bloodworms while I finished my last free cup of Starbucks coffee on a Christmas gift card.

I caught a very small black sea bass and fed a few others before changing from a bottom rig to a two-ounce Stingsilver. First cast into almost slack water resulted in a bluefish, and it was game on from then on. I didn’t catch a blue on every cast, but I had more than enough action with one- to two-pound fish to keep me more than happy.

At first, I was the only one on the northside fishing for blues. About 8 a.m., another angler showed up and began catching them to my left. He paid no attention to me and I paid none to him, which resulted in a tangled line. He still paid no attention to me, but I watched him like a hawk and made sure my casts didn’t cross his line.

I released all of my fish and he kept all of his. He did not have a cooler and put the blues in a plastic shopping bag that he hung on the low rail of the fence ... in the sun. I always waited until I got home and cleaned my fish before I cooked them, but I guess he liked his cooked whole and uncleaned.

When I first arrived, I noticed four men to the west along the rail catching and throwing back small fish. I couldn’t tell what they were and my curiosity got the better of me, so I walked down to see. On almost every cast they were catching very small flounder. They were using green Gulp! twister tails on a top-bottom rig or a live minnow on a six- to eight-inch leader behind a teardrop sinker. Before I left, they had caught two keepers.

I find this a very good sign for the future. The biggest problem with summer flounder has been lack of recruitment. With this many small flounder in the inlet, and I must expect the back bays, there must have been a good spawn two years ago. Flounder spawn off the coast before heading to the edge of the Continental Shelf. The young of the year go behind the barrier islands to grow, then head out to sea before moving up the coast. The four- to six -inch flounder these men were catching would have spent their first years behind the Virginia Barrier Islands and are now in Delaware waters.

While I may have been one of only two anglers catching blues on the northside of Indian River Inlet on Friday, these fish have been caught by both head and charter boats as well as private boats from Delaware Bay to Fenwick Shoal. They are all running about the same size, one to two pounds, and on light tackle, they are a blast to catch and make excellent table fare.

I also saw a pod of dolphin working on what I must expect were the same bluefish I was catching. They pretty much stayed opposite me and kept going up and down in one rip where the blues were holding.

Looking down in the water close to the rocks, I could see large schools of small silver fish. There were lots of them and they were trying to stay out of the current and away from the blues.

Indian River Inlet, just like Delaware Bay, is teeming with life. Could it be better? Sure, but it’s pretty good the way it is.

State record false albacore

Jason Conrad caught a 22.6-pound false albacore at the 19-Fathom Lump on a Flippy Floppy Thing while fishing on the Canyon Hunter with Capt. Travis Scott. This is the pending Delaware state record for false albacore. The one reported on earlier was never submitted to the state for verification.

Paradise Grill-Shorts Marine Flounder Tournament

Last weekend, the Paradise Grill-Short’s Marine Flounder Tournament was held with anglers fishing the confines of Indian River and Rehoboth bays. The results are: first place, Luke Horney, 5.5-pound flounder, $10,000; second place, Todd Stevenson, 5.1-pound flounder, $5,000; third place, Tom Passwaters, 5.0-pound flounder, $3,000; fourth place, Team Rick’s, 4.6-pound flounder, $1,500; fifth place, Jeff Stevens, 4.4-pound flounder, $1,000.

The next big tournament will be the Paradise Grill-Short’s Marine Flounder Pounder Tournament that runs Aug. 14-19. The top prize here is $100,000. Registration dates are July 29 to Aug. 11. The rules are online.

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age. Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast. He has been the regional editor for several publications and was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine. Eric is the author of three books: Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits. He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at

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