Striped bass, drum ready to be hooked

May 12, 2022

Welcome back anglers and danglers, pier ploppers and split shot droppers. Been a long winter, we have fish for spring for once better than we have seen, at least for migratory striped bass. Black drum catches are increasing in Delaware; both runs started a while ago.  Clams, peeler crabs, sand fleas have been the best baits. Fishbites sand flea, clam and crab formulas are doing very well too.  Don’t waste your money on Fish Gum; it doesn’t work in our waters, we have tested it multiple times with 20 anglers.

 Drum are being caught as far up as Brigantine Beach in Jersey and the Delaware bayside (Jersey) beaches. If you keep hearing they will be here soon, then you are missing it, because many drum were here weeks ago. A massive school passed Assateague one afternoon; anglers dropped upwards of 10 fish per angler for a few hours. Those fish were headed north to spawn; they do not hang around.

Same goes for the migratory striped bass. The Chesapeake schools are spawning and heading out now. Same with the Delaware Bay, and up the river they are still catching spawning bass.  The run works in waves of schools of fish, up till the end of May at times. The schooling bass action in the surf, aka surf rats, has been a lot of fun. Nonoffset circle hooks are required now for targeting striped bass. Use DS Custom Tackle surf rigs or striped bass Hi Lo rigs; get them at Icehouse Bait and Tackle, Dan’s Tackle, or Fenwick Tackle.

The spring smaller catches are showing up in the surf. Northern puffer fish, burr fish, and weakfish are some we have seen so far. A few kingfish have been rumored here and there. Fishbites has been working well. Sand fleas are in the sand; you have to dig. Netting or scooping them won’t work just yet, but that will change as the water warms up a little. We have been digging fleas up for a month.

Flounder action started up not long ago and has been slow. The action is around; you have to put in the time. We are using a new Fishbites grub that is six inches with a curly tail. It is outfishing Gulp, especially for the offshore anglers. 

The Cape Henlopen pier just started seeing some flounder catches before this monsoon showed up. The surf is slow for jigging action catching flounder, but is possible. It is just getting started. New Jersey’s new creel limit whould be an indication of how well the flounder stocks are doing. 

The Saltwater Fly Anglers of Delaware club will be meeting at the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier next Wednesday in the evening. If you want to get into fly fishing the salt or meet more wizards of the long wand, come out and meet the club.

The bluefish here are small to 20 inches. Don’t expect a gator blitz. In fact, don’t expect good bluefish action this year, if it was anything like last year. Those numbers are also down dramatically. Hence the new three-fish-per angler creel limit.   

We have some new creel limits. Make sure you check before you keep any fish. Expect to see limits change more often. New Jersey just started the first slot season for summer flounder. It is an inch. They can keep a flounder between 17 and 17.99 inches for the slot fish. Good luck measuring that; get the calipers.

Delaware’s new minimum summer flounder size limit was reduced from 16.5 inches to 16 inches, with a continued four-fish daily limit and all-year season.

Black sea bass size limit was increased from 12.5 to 13 inches while the season was shortened by 20 days (runs May 15 through Dec. 11), with a continued 15-fish daily limit ... per DNREC effective May 1. 

There are new tuna limits coming, and striped bass Amendment 7 has passed. Let’s see how that fishery circus plays out. It’s wild to see so many covet one fish and not the rest. 

Get out and fish. Learn better catch-and-release techniques to become a more responsible angler. 

Mostly just have fun, that is what it is all about; catching is a bonus. 

Subscribe to the Daily Newsletter