Fishing crowded beaches

May 26, 2022

The weekends are already wild and this weekend will not be an exception.  Last Saturday from Gordons Pond to Herring Point, there were 321 vehicles on roughly 8,152 feet of beach.  (That estimate was calculated using Google tools).  I had to figure this for COVID restrictions in the fall for a surf fishing tournament; I needed to know how many vehicles would fit per the 60-foot rule on that beach.  No one was able to give me this information, but I calculated it to be about 136 cars.

Since surf fishing for anglers with just 136 vehicles on the beach can be somewhat congested, the more than 300 vehicles that were parked on the sands Saturday were way too much. At Assateague, fewer than 24 vehicles would be allowed in that amount of space.  We have some issues on our drive-on beaches; they are too crowded and are being torn up every weekend.  After watching the latest off-season insanity, I would not be surprised if someone gets hit by a truck this year, which is probably what it will take to make any real changes out there. Keep your kids oceanside while on a drive-on beach, not in the “road” area, as there are drivers who are not paying attention. 

Fishing has finally picked back up after the beaches were rearranged by the nor’easter and sand bar systems are rebuilding the beaches on every tide cycle.  The structure changes daily, making surf fishing a challenge, but one that can be productive.  As a surfcaster, this is glorious.   I’m walking beaches and tossing lures into drains on closed-to-drivers beaches - fishing all alone, no one for hundreds of yards.  The only traffic is beachcombers looking for the treasures exposed daily by the tides.  The north beach of the Indian River inlet looks amazing and has some serious drains still working. 

 Those gator bluefish are still around, but there are only very random catches.  Same goes for migratory striped bass.   The action is slow but anglers are catching here and there.  The ones putting in the time are the most rewarded, usually.  My buddy Dave used up 15 lbs. of bunker in 12 hours to catch three striped bass.  He had to pick through more than 200 skates, too.  Putting in the time is work, but it will pay dividends.  

Black drum are still being caught in the surf and up in the coral beds of the Delaware Bay.  Most charters are going out for sea bass right now, but check in and see if anyone is running any drum trips.  Fishing the Delaware Bay beaches with clam or sand fleas will target black drum.  Fishbites, sand flea and clam formulas are good to add for a little extra scent kick.  

Fishing the crowded surf fishing beaches is tough but can be done.  A DS Custom Tackle top and bottom rig with Fishbites and a 4 oz. pyramid sinker is perfect.  Cast it straight out just beyond the back of the breaking waves. If you are good, you can put multiple lines in one area and control the retrieve.  All the summer small fish will hit Fishbites, which helps avoid many of the scavengers.   Bloodworms are expensive this year and hard to store. 

The best bet at any U.S. beach area is to fish on the weekdays and avoid the weekend crowds.  On weekends, look for out-of-the-way less public places to fish or enjoy the water.  Kayaks work wonders to get away from the flow.  Fishing kayaks are wonderful; OC Kayak shop owner Dean Lokey is a guide for those looking for lessons or pointers.  I highly recommend his services - the man has the passion for fishing.

Flounder catches, with some decent keepers, are increasing around our waterways.  Everything is starting up later this year, except that gnarly hot weather this past weekend. This weather is a bit deceptive and might make one think the fishing should be better, but the weather has been colder than normal.  Despite that, the fish usually turn on and not much shuts them down even if it may slow them down a bit. 

Jigging in the canals or drifting minnows will produce, as will jigging the big drains in the surf.  This will also work in the “flats” at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier.  Many anglers are catching flounder on spoons trying for bluefish.  The flounder will lay in the subtle troughs and wait to ambush prey.  If you head to the pier beach at night, bring a flashlight and you’ll be able to see the flounder. You can’t catch them or gig them, but it is pretty cool to see how many come that close to hunt, especially at high tide.

Just get out and fish, you never know what you will catch.  And support your local bait shops; they need the business more than ever. 

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter