With storm gone, fishing returns to normal

September 17, 2016

The storm passed and fishing returned to whatever normal is. Flounder were caught in the bay and the ocean, dolphin and wahoo remained inshore at the 20-Fathom Lumps and all the way out to the canyons and the billfish bite was totally off the hook.

The lower Delaware Bay saw some decent flounder catches at reef sites seven and eight. I don’t know exactly how long we can expect to see flounder in this area, but the bay water is still pretty warm, so even with the days growing shorter the flounder could remain until the end of the month.

I had reports from farther up the bay that croakers to 12 inches were caught out of Bowers and Collins Beach, as were keeper flounder. The reef sites in this area along with the Crossledge, Miah Maull Shoal and the Oyster Grounds were mentioned as good locations. This is another reason I believe we will have fish in the bay for several more weeks.

The Cape Henlopen State Park Fishing Pier reported that croaker and spot along with keeper flounder have been caught recently. Unfortunately, the fish aren’t there on any sort of regular basis. For example, on Saturday, limits of flounder were taken, but they failed to reappear Sunday.

Surf fishing has started to move toward the fall with the mullet run underway. So far the only blues the mullet have attracted have been snappers, but hope springs eternal in the heart of a surf caster that bigger fish are on the way.

I fished Herring Point Tuesday morning. I had frozen mullet and caught one skate. To my surprise, I was the only one fishing the beach as far as I could see, which was from Herring Point to Gordons Pond. The weather was perfect with a light east wind and the water was clear.

I wish I had better news from Indian River Inlet, but the action there remains slow. Some keeper flounder and rockfish have been caught, but they are few and far between. The rock have been caught at night on sand fleas and live eels while the flounder bite has been in the daytime on live minnows, spot, bucktails, squid or Gulp!. I had one report that a 6-pound trout was taken at night on a sand flea.

Overall, the most productive fishing has been in the ocean from Reef Site 10 all the way out to the Radford. Flounder are the primary target, but a surprising number of black sea bass have been mixed in with the flatfish. Some folks are using bucktails with squid, cut bait or Gulp! while others go the more traditional route with Delaware Bay Green Machines baited with squid strips and minnows.  The action has been spread out and one day Reef Site 10 will produce, then the next day it will be the deep water west of A Buoy.  If you aren’t catching, keep trying different locations until you find fish.

Fenwick Shoal has a few blues left, but the Spanish mackerel may be gone for this year. Trolling small spoons will take the blues.

The inshore wrecks hold flounder, triggerfish and trout. Jigging bucktails will work for the flounder while clam or bloodworms will take the triggers and trout.

The 20-Fathom Lumps have been seeing a fair number of wahoo and dolphin. Trolling has been the best technique, just be sure to use wire leaders on any lure set for wahoo. You don’t need much wire, just a few inches ahead of the hook to prevent the sharp teeth of the wahoo from separating the lure from the line.

Also in the mix are false albacore. These small tuna will give you all you can handle on light tackle. I troll with 20-pound gear, and if I hit a big concentration of these fish I break out the casting gear. Spoons are the top trolling lure while Stingsilvers cast well and can be cranked in at albacore speed. Fly fishermen consider false albacore a top game fish, and for once I agree with them.

In the canyons it is Katy bar the door.  Many boats are returning with marlin flags flying, and I would expect this to continue for a few more weeks. In addition to the billfish, dolphin, wahoo and tuna have been caught.

As you can see, there are fish to be caught and the weather for the foreseeable future looks good. No big storms or drastic temperature changes. I realize that school has begun and you may have used all of your vacation days, but if you can find some time to get out on the water I believe you will have a rewarding experience.

  • 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 Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He 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