Sea bass action is hot with flounder in the mix

July 29, 2021

Been a wild week along the beaches and waterways. Fish being caught, parks catching fire and the beach surf fishing parking lots being checked for rule compliance. 

If you want to see some craziness, go hang out at the Indian River Inlet on a Saturday or Sunday and just watch boats head in and out of the inlet. We saw a few full sends that probably shouldn’t have been done in a creek much less that inlet. I wouldn’t take a pontoon boat out there, but here we are watching it and cringing a little. 

Offshore charters are starting to bring in lots of yellowfin and other varieties of tuna. They’re also seeing tilefish for trip fillers, and the usual sharks and such. Hit up the local charters or try Ocean City, Md., too. 

Sea bass action is hot, with flounder in the mix. Inshore wreck and reef anglers are catching a lot of ribbon fish. Some anglers have discovered they are good eating and are now targeting them. Trash fish, as many of the unwanted catches are called, are actually good to eat. Try a sea robin sometime. 

I once fed an entire restaurant those giant gator bluefish, about 40 pounds. Everyone said they hated bluefish, but they ate it and loved it. Then we told them it was bluefish, now they all like bluefish. Prepared correctly and out of the water only a couple of hours, most fish are good to eat. Learn to bleed your catch immediately and keep it cool on ice. Also bleeding your catch is the humane way to kill your catch instead of just letting it suffocate on ice. 

Flounder fishing is picking back up, with cooler water temperatures along the coast and deeper water. There is an upwelling occurring that helps a lot. The inland bays have been slow with keepers but a lot of throwbacks. Offshore has better sizes and quantities. Surf fishing will produce flounder. Jigging for them is preferred, but you can catch with bait. Just not like you would think. 

Anglers using mullet rigs catch flounder, but that is not the targeted species. On the retrieve to check baits or reset lines from current, flounder will hammer a mullet rig right at the surf edge. The rig gets to the ledge under the breaking wave and if a flounder is sitting there, and it usually hits the bait. Flounder always lie in wait along the ledge and in cuts hunting for baitfish and crabs. I have another trick for catching flounder in the surf. We’ll cover that next week. 

Drifting for flounder with mummichog minnows (killifish) and or gulp is the preferred method. I have a friend that uses Twizzlers, the red ones. There is a myriad theories we came up with why but it works. 

When we announced that a few years ago, a friend of mine called and asked why everyone was buying up Twizzlers for bait. He jigs with pieces offshore. It’s just like using a red tube on a jig! I mean, who doesn’t like Twizzlers? This was discovered when they ran out of bait and the catching slowed down. Jeff Weaver said well let’s try this for grins and giggles. He landed a couple keepers in under an hour. Just to make sure this wasn’t a fluke, he did it the next day, too. Now, Twizzlers are added to the boat bait list, not just as required snacks. 

Surf fishing is all the usual summer suspects. Use bloodworms, Fishbites, sand fleas and squid pieces. DS Custom Tackle top and Bottom rigs are the preferred rig used by serious anglers and only available at the best local shops locally. Cut bait for the scavengers and predators. DS Custom Tackle Modified Mullet rigs are recommended for random bluefish action. These rigs catch more fish and use up less bait. 

This time of year, not much changes in the surf fishing arena. 

Pompano are here in larger numbers and some are pretty big. Still random catches, but the usual suspects a bit works just fine for them as well. Fishbites is preferred or seems to work the best, bloodworm formula, crab or sand flea. 

Spanish mackerel have been showing up near the bunker and bluefish schools. They are best caught on spoons and other metals. Large shad, aka Jersey Tarpon, are hitting in the surf as well. 

Lots of big jellyfish are washing up and in the waves. Lion’s Mane mostly, and they do sting. Always good to have some meat tenderizer with you in case of a jellyfish sting. Their venom is protein-based, the papain enzyme in meat tenderizer breaks down those proteins. You can pee on the sting, but that really doesn’t work and the lifeguards get a little excited when you do that on a crowded beach. What are friends for, if not to help? 

 Need a fish and wildlife officer or a park ranger? Use the tip app by DNREC. This actually will get you more of a response than phone calls. 

The app is available for free download by searching DENRP via the Google Play Store or the iTunes App Store. The app can be used with 100 percent anonymity, as tip411’s technology removes all identifying information before NRP officers see the tips. 

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