End of summer

September 29, 2016

The end of the summer season is marked by Labor Day weekend and the beginning of our second summer.  One event that keeps us all on track with the coming of fall is the annual Delaware Seashore Fall Surf Fishing Classic.  This year was no exception, and the end of the summer season and transition to fall fishing is usually marked by that tournament.

Over the last several years summer fish have stuck around longer and the variety of catches makes for a fun tournament.  You can win just by targeting kingfish all day, or go for the bigger blues to rack up points. The largest bluefish is always worth a couple of thousand dollars, so you definitely want to enter the bluefish Calcutta.

This year we had a huge dose of fall-like weather, especially on Saturday to remind us of days to come. Coincidentally, the tournament happens every year in time for my last Beach Paper article of the season.

A few days before the tournament, anglers were catching a huge number of kingfish on Fenwick Island beach.  Literally a hundred in a couple of hours, and would all score in the upcoming tournament.  The same fishing was occurring near Conquest beach, but with bluefish.  Anglers were catching snapper blues that would have easily qualified, and beaten the bluefish that took the Calcutta this year.  

Knowing all of this information, many anglers were excited to get set up and start slamming fish.  Problem was a system was moving in and would be here for the weekend, because it is tournament time. Except we were looking forward to this system; northeast winds pushing water towards the beaches. Perfect conditions to push bait fish and larger fish towards the beach. That was the theory and we planned accordingly.

Mother Nature stuck to the plan, but with her own little differences. There were plenty of fish pushed towards the beach, they were just all the wrong size. We caught so many undersized fish it was unreal, people were catching a hundred fish a day, all too small. Most of the bluefish were a half-inch too short. If the fishing had held up the way it was a few days before the tournament, the judges would have been very busy.  


There are lots of puppy drum in the surf, the little black drum we caught a ton of those little guys.  The spot are huge in fact if they could have been scored I would have cleaned up in points.

There are a lot of flounder stacked up along the beaches feeding for that final winter push back to deeper waters.  

Should be some decent action jigging for flounder along the surf edge and the cuts.  

Using large sand fleas on a hook with little to no weight works well; just cast it into the wash behind the breaking wave and let the current do the rest.  

You have to hold onto your rod when you do this.  

There are a lot of short striped bass in the wash or white water along the surf edge. They are feeding heavy on bait fish and sand fleas.  The fishing has been decent in the surf and we hoped it would be hot for the tournament. Either way it was fun way to end the season.  

One thing you can always count on for a tournament is the weather to turn to the worst.  We always hope it doesn’t, sometimes we get lucky, and it is a perfect weekend. Wouldn’t you know it - not an hour after the tournament was over the wind laid down and the waves were much calmer. Then everyone started catching all kinds of fish that could have scored.

Another typical byproduct of tournaments. The fishing is always better right afterwards or the next day.

Which is good because I have a lot of bait left over! See you next year!

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