Lots of cool fish to catch during fall season

September 1, 2022

Summer is winding down, but the fall fishing is inbound, and we are getting excited. The point is open, and surf anglers will flock there on the weekends. The peasant tag holders, that’s us included, can now move about the beaches on the weekends. I’m looking forward to lots of bluefish along the point beaches on light gear.

There is a new order for the creel limits for American Shad. Regulations have been amended to reduce the recreational possession limit and require minimum twine size on commercial gill nets. The regulations: 7 DE Administrative Code 3591 American Shad and Hickory Shad Creel Limits; 3592 Atlantic Ocean American Shad Season and Closure; Addition of 3593: Minimum Thread, Twine, or Monofilament Diameter for Anchored Gill Nets) went into effect Aug. 28. The amended regulations reduce the recreational daily possession limit of American Shad to two fish. Anchored gill nets used during the spring gill net season (March 1 – May 10), that have a stretched mesh equal to or greater than four inches, to be constructed of thread, twine or monofilament with a minimum diameter of 0.52 mm. These amendments are required for Delaware to remain in compliance with the ASMFC Delaware River Sustainable Fishing Plan for American Shad. Better late than never on the announcement; it was sent out the day before the changes.

Fishing has been interesting this summer. We have seen more upwellings than usual, and that has created off to on conditions. It’s hard to follow how things may turn out; it’s just easier to go fish and hope for the best.  Offshore anglers are going out more than 100 miles to find fish.  Usually, it’s been about 50 miles. It has been a different summer for fishing, but now we have fall inbound. 

Spot, kingfish, and the summer fish are still abundant most days in the surf. There are plenty of the smaller blues showing up now too. Mullet are around the back bays moving into the bays and along the beaches soon. Shark fishing is still producing - a large tiger shark was caught near Fenwick Island, I believe. 

Sheepshead are abundant around the inlets and Masseys Landing has produced several using sand fleas. The ditch is always active with fish. Some species hang around the structures, including bulkheads, pier, boat ramp, and rips. Many fish are just passing through while feeding, and you get lucky. I’ve been hoping to see some trigger around the inland bays. There have been a few around the Indian River Inlet along the rocks.

Short striped bass fishing around the inlet rocks is fun with sand fleas. You can use lures but the fleas really produce.  You just need about a quart of them to a full five-gallon bucket; it just depends on how long you want to fish. The problem right now is fleas are deeper in the sand than normal, so you have to dig for them a little.  

Flounder fishing has been better offshore than inshore.  Gulp and Fishbites Fight Club soft plastics are working well, as are drifting minnows or jigging bucktails with strips of thick bacon. The pork rind has been a popular bait for 100-plus years. Who doesn’t like bacon? The inshore flounder fishing just takes longer to get a keeper.  

A friend of mine sent me a picture on Wednesday morning; it was a mahi. Meh, I thought, nice fish, no big deal, right?  I was half asleep when he sent it and then I realized ...he was in his boat, a center console johnboat. He was holding a mahi.  So, either the mahi was in a spot they never are, or my man went full send. I figured it was the latter and there would be a good story. The second picture said it all. You always hear about a johnboat out at B buoy, but never why.  On occasion there are pontoon boats out there too, but they are just crazy people.

 On Aug. 24, local fisherman Christopher Dunn set out from Indian River Inlet in the early morning to fulfill a promise to a friend who had recently passed away. He and friend Chris Wagner, captain of the Marie Ann out of Indian River, had always joked about Dunn catching a mahi on his 18-foot aluminum center console johnboat named Killin Time.

The plan was always to take the 30-foot Marie Anne and use it as a support vessel. Unfortunately, Wagner lost his battle with leukemia this year, and never got to see this dream between friends realized. Dunn had studied the weather and decided that this would be the morning. After running about 20 miles out of Indian River, he began trolling north. At about 8:15 am, a rod went off.  After a short fight Dunn had his prize. It had been years in the making. Captain Chris Wagner was known for his incredible drive and his amazing spirit which continues to inspire people, even after his passing.

Bloodworms are still tough to find and lug worms (sand worms) have become the replacement.  I prefer using Fishbites, it’s less mess, it works just as well and costs less.  Also, I can put Fishbites in my pocket; lug worms bite. My advice is to get a variety of Fishbites, so you have more options for bait choices. 

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