Local fishing is hit or miss across the board

August 26, 2021

What a wild weekend and week leading up to the wild weather weekend when Hurricane Henri dropped some storm surge on us. During the week before, northeast wave action chewed a nice ledge along the beaches. Same thing happened last year and we had six-foot sand cliffs. That really freaked the summer people out. Welcome to our world in the winter.

The fishing the past week has been hit or miss across the board. One day it’s great, then we get some sort of storm condition. The spot bite came hot at the Cape Henlopen pier and then died off as the temperatures went back up; then it cooled off and the bite picked back up. Summer fishing is tough in the shallow areas and along the coast in the dead-of-summer heat. Bloodworms may be in short supply this week due to Henri’s storm action up north. Fishbites is working great, but don’t bother with Fishgum; that doesn’t work very well here. Only people I know who catch with it use Fishbites to hold the gum on the hook. 

The charters and and head boats are doing better offshore for flounder than anyone inshore or around the Inland Bays. That action is always decent offshore this time of year, and even the surf is producing better than inland. 

Surf anglers need to brush up on the shark-fishing rules. Parks ticketed some anglers for doing it wrong by checking their social media posts. You can be ticketed for posing with any prohibited shark species. It is considered possession or control. Learn to not pose for shark pictures, and how to properly handle and release. If you don’t want to get into all of that, cut the line as close as possible to the hook and let the shark go. Obviously you can’t control what you catch. When targeting sharks, though, you need to know how to release safely and whatnot. 

To avoid the summer heat and crowds, and catch more fish, we usually pull some overnight trips at the beach. Surf fishing all night long is productive, and we catch more than just sharks. Granted, early predawn or late evening is a good time to start or end a day trip, but you can fish all night on the drive-on beaches. There are very few people there, and it is much different from day fishing. On a full-moon night, you can see your shadow. One bonus this time of year is the frequent meteor showers. I see meteors almost every night I am out there; it is good for my inner nerd. 

The drive-on beaches are all good to fish at night, but the best (open) access areas are the Faithful Steward crossing with a dope view of the Charles W. Cullen Bridge, and Three Rs, which has the same bridge view, just opposite side of the inlet. Fenwick is good at any crossing; the darker beach at York crossing is great for stargazing. From Herring Point, you can see Rehoboth Beach’s lights. Navy crossing is one of the darkest beaches you will find in a park.

There isn’t much to night surf fishing, but there are some things you want to avoid. Once the sun rises, you can start to pack up and head home, unless you are like us and keep fishing until late morning. Either way, you have to pack the truck, which is much easier if you set up the least amount of gear needed. 

Be careful driving out at night and watch for holes; these will be shadows in front of you. It’s easy to drop into a hole someone left behind, especially at Fenwick in front of the houses whose owners hate the trucks there. Don’t shine your headlights on the water all night. Park facing the direction you want to leave, in case you have to move for incoming water or an emergency. Check the high tide line and park above it; this is really important, and also set up in that area. An incoming tide can flood your spot, and that is really annoying in the dark. 

Go to Dollar General and get the mini solar yard spotlights for about $4. We aim them up the poles to see hits and light up bait tables. Those light sticks for rods are annoying, since we find them constantly at beach cleanups. The solar light can be used at home until you go back to the beach. 

Full moons cast shadows on the beach at night; they look really cool. When you step on the sand and crush the tiny sand fleas in your footprints, it makes the print glow phosphorescent green for a minute and is kind of freaky.

Use top and bottom rigs with squid pieces or Fishbites and slam small fish all night. When the dogfish pup inshore, you will catch hundreds of teeny dogfish. Croaker, kingfish, spot and all the usual small suspects hug the shoreline at night because the predators are hunting. You can put out a chunk of bunker, but that guarantees sharks. If you want striped bass, listen for fish rolling in the surf and use poppers or plugs. 

I mentioned don’t shine your headlights on the water, but light does attract fish. We will shine light on the water near us and fish the darker sides. 

You never know what will come in to feed on the attracted baitfish and small squid. Don’t use your vehicle headlights or you will kill your battery. We use the stronger solar LED yard lights. 

One thing much different from the daytime is the temperature. 

Bring hoodies and light jackets. The dew will drop, and ocean spray is heavier, so these will cover everything. Leave vehicles closed up. 

The less you put outside, the less gets wet. Fires are allowed in metal containers like a grill, and be sure to make small fires, not beach blanket bingo bonfires. 

You have to take that fire container home with you. Fires are not allowed directly on the sand, unless you go to Assateague. That’s another amazing place for overnight surf fishing, better than Delaware, honestly. 

Have fun out there – night surf fishing is a whole different world. 

Delaware Surf Fishing will host the first weekly beach cleanup Thursday, Sept. 2, to clean the Point, meeting at the small bathhouse/Point comfort station. Check the DSF website,, for details. COVID rules are in place for cleanups for everyone’s safety; wear masks in chase vehicles and observe social distancing on the beach. 

If these rules bother you, don’t come. Please bring your own gloves and a 5-gallon bucket. After that Thursday cleanup we will switch to Tuesdays, but this one is scheduled to coincide with the Point opening.

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