Lots of fish to catch even during hot weather

July 21, 2022

The heat wave is here, triple digits, so it must be state fair time. The fishing is fine if you can stand the heat. The only issue is the water will warm up a little faster now. I prefer the night fishing this time of year, early predawn, or late evenings. Daytime is for air -conditioning or the pool – I’m working on combining those two.

There are pompano in the surf far south of us, but they should be here soon enough. Otherwise, it is all the summer suspects using Fishbites or bloodworms, although the latter has been scarce. There are small weakfish, spot, croaker, sand perch and the usual summer catches. It is off and on good action that changes daily, and some days are better than others. The charters and boats are doing well on the tuna bite offshore. 

 Sharks are close to the surf; I mean, they live in the ocean. There are a lot being caught this year. We have a pool going on as to how many bull sharks we pull this year. Last year was the most we have ever seen. We’re talking real bull sharks, not those misidentified as sand bars or dusky. Many sharks pup in the surf at night and evenings. The Delaware Bay is the pupping grounds for sand bar, dusky and sand tiger sharks, which is one of the reasons we have the prohibitions on their releases. Know your shark laws and know your sharks. A good rule to go by is if the shark has a dorsal ridge, then it stays in the water.

Flounder fishing has been okay around the inland bays and Cape Henlopen fishing pier. The summer heat and increased boat activity makes fishing a little difficult, especially on the weekends. It’s better to go offshore in cooler deeper water or the Delaware Bay sites.  

The offshore reefs and wrecks are producing with a bunch of ribbon fish in the mix. They are slippery fish that are good to eat, just bony. They also make great flounder bait.

Spot are all over the inland bays with croaker and pin fish. Those pins make killer flounder bait and so do the spot.  

Bluefish has been random action along the beaches, with decent action offshore.  

Short striped bass slot season has been productive for many anglers. Using sand fleas is a fast way to produce catches.  Easy to just put a flea or two on a four- to six-aught hook with no weight.  Then seed the area with some fleas and drop in your line. It’s fun as all get out, with ultralight gear.

Those aren’t little jellyfish stuck to your fishing line. The salp (plural salpae, or salpas) are back and washing up on the beaches, but not in huge numbers yet. One year they were so thick in the surf your lines would get coated up with them and make it all the way to your reel. It was slimy, then dried up and crusty, especially with braided line. They can clog up line to the point you are cutting it off and rerigging all day. When they become really annoying, it is best to quit for the day. You will also catch them when you are scooping up sand fleas.

Salpae are barrel-shaped pelagic tunicates. They move by contracting their “body;” that action pumps water and pushes them along. As the water is pushed through their body cavity, they filter feed plankton for food. There about 50 species of salpae around the globe and they are one of the most common and important tunicates in the ocean. They grow in many different shapes and sizes; some are elaborate like a chandelier, others just look a blob of Jell-O. By the time they wash ashore they are no longer alive.

One species of salp near Antarctica is the second most abundant large plankton after krill. They will cover thousands of square miles at times. They will live solitary lives at one point, but will link up in huge chains, lines, wheels and elaborate shapes of salpae colonies.

Salpae start life as females then switch to males for the rest of their lives; no one knows why. Their life cycle is days to months, depending on the species. They are harmless but annoying for anglers on their lines and rigs.

Kate Fleming, coastal ecology specialist via Delaware Sea Grant, is hosting an event open to the public Aug. 10 at Holt’s Landing State Park. She said, “I have been hosting some events in Delaware inland bay crabbing communities this summer to raise awareness for lost and abandoned crab pots and encourage responsible crabbing. At these events we invite people to bring us their crab pots and we’ll get them updated with gear to make them more resilient to pot loss (e.g., new sink line, and bullet floats to replace something that can be punctured). We are also replacing and educating about terrapin excluder devices.”  

These are the folks I helped with removing ghost crab pots over the winter.  It’s a great program that the public can get involved with, so be sure to check it out.

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