Fishing has improved with the weather

July 25, 2020

Fishing has been very good since the weather improved and summer finally arrived. True, the midday temperatures have been a tad uncomfortable, but that is even more incentive to get out before sunrise or fish right past sunset when the fish are more active.

Summer flounder are still the main attraction for many anglers, but there are other fish in the ocean and bay besides flounder. Right now, we have good numbers of triggerfish on the reef sites, and around the jetties and walls. They are also found over ocean and bay wrecks.

Triggers have a small mouth that is powerful to crush the shells of various prey. This requires a small but strong hook baited with either a bit of clam or a sand flea. If you choose to use clams, save the soft bellies after cutting off the tough foot for bait. Use the bellies cut up in a chum bag tied off the side of the boat to attract the triggerfish. Once you get them coming around, drift back a piece of clam foot without weight and hold on. This is best done from an anchored boat. Don’t be too surprised if some spadefish join the party.

I use circle hooks for all my bait fishing. They set in the corner of the fish’s mouth and come out quickly once the fish is in the boat. Pick a small size for triggers and spades, and tie them to a two-foot section of 20-pound Fluorocarbon. For both, just let the fish swim off with the bait, then when the line comes tight, reel in your catch.

Spadefish are a different animal. You may find hundreds of them hovering over a wreck and yet they will ignore the finest bits of clam you put right in front of their nose. Then, on the next wreck, you won’t see very many spades, but when you start to chum and drop back some bait they will come on like gangbusters. I have no idea why they do this; I only know for a fact that they do. Try to explain this to three folks from Ohio who have never seen the ocean before, let alone a couple hundred uncooperative spadefish. Fortunately, I was able to find some hungry ones before the charter was over.

We still have more common fish around to keep bottom bouncers happy. Spot, kings and croaker have been caught in good numbers everywhere from the beach to Reef Site 10 to the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal, the Inland Bays and over the reef sites in the lower Delaware Bay.

This is fun fishing for everyone in the family. Bring the kids, the wife, the grandparents and even old Uncle Sal who never held a rod in his hand. Once the fish start coming over the side, everyone will be having a ball.

I have a 16-foot tin boat with a 40-horsepower outboard that is perfect for this style of fishing. I can go anywhere in the lower bay, the Inland Bays and the ocean out to Site 10. The boat is equipped with a Lowrance SONAR and a VHF radio plus an electric trolling motor.

On a typical bottom-fishing trip, I will leave the Lewes boat ramp at or just before sunrise and try drifting the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and Roosevelt Inlet. I like incoming water and will work close to the shoreline around the posts that stick up just past the UD dock and then the jetties at the inlet.

Because the bay is usually calm early in the morning, I will head out toward the Ferry Wall, then the Inner Wall, the Outer Wall, the Ice Breakers and finally Site 8. I keep a sharp eye on the SONAR looking for schools of fish on the bottom. Once I see something and start catching spot, kings or croaker, I will keep working that spot until I have all I want or the bite turns off.

I follow the same pattern in the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and the Inland Bays. Keep drifting and looking. When you find some action, stay with it.

My tackle is pretty light. I use an UGLY Stick GX2 with a Shakespeare GX235 reel l filled with 12-test Stren line. A simple top-bottom rig made from 20-pound Hi Seas line and small circle hooks will work just fine.

Over the past few years, I have gone to fishing with FishBites and Gulp! Both do a great job, cost less than fresh or frozen bait, and what’s left over is good to go for the next trip. For this type of fishing I use FishBites bloodworms and clam.

FISHGUM is a new bait Joe Moore sent me. I’ll let you know how it works.


  • 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

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter