Summer fishing will last well into October

September 3, 2020

It's September, and despite the 2020 craziness, fishing is still a going thing, more so this year than ever. Seems everyone is fishing these days.

Summer fishing will last well into October as long as the weather stays mild enough. Eventually we will have the summer-to-fall fish transition. The beauty of Delmarva is we are in the middle of the East Coast. We see all the migratory fish and even the weird tropical fish that make it up this far. Every year we see more of these tropical fish, and the migratory fish runs are delayed longer and longer.

Striped bass season used to be October; now it has moved to November into December. That just means we just get to fish longer and – we hope – catch more. We fish all year long anyway, but the milder weather is much more comfortable. You don't need to prep your gear for fall fishing just yet; we aren't done with the summer species.

Salted shrimp for pompano

The surf anglers in Delaware and Assateague have been doing great with spot, croaker, kingfish, sand perch, short striped bass, weakfish, and puffers, and some pompano have finally made an appearance. The popular baits have been Fishbites bloodworm, sand flea, crab and shrimp formulas. Squid and cut bait work well but attract more scavengers. Real bloodworms work even better but have been hard to find on the weekends due to a supply issue.

Salted shrimp is the secret bait for catching pompano. We salt our shrimp the night before. Cut it into baby fingernail-sized pieces and then tip the hook with a Fishbites bloodworm piece. I call this a second-chance rig; if the fish nip off your shrimp, you are still actively fishing. Peel the shrimp and use non-iodized salt – that is important. You can freeze this bait to store for later use as well.

The skate and shark catches are always numerous at the beaches. It is hard to not catch a skate, aka "Jersey flounder.” Believe it or not, skate is a tasty meal. Cleaning them is a little difficult; look that up on YouTube. People would be surprised how many "trash" fish make great table fare.

Modified mullet rig slays bluefish

The bluefish action in the surf has picked up, and the mullet are running the beaches and waterways. You can always tell when the mullet are running; the anglers are wandering around with their cast nets looking for them.

Using DS Custom Tackle top and bottom rigs works great; this is a well-known local tackle company. A very popular rig, the modified mullet rig by DS Custom Tackle, has been slaying bluefish.

"Our rig catches more fish and uses less bait thanks to our design with the bait holder hook,” said owner David Okonewski.

This is the last mullet rig you will ever buy, they work that well. Just hook your mullet between the eyes and it will never slide off the shaft again. I've caught three fish on the same mullet many times.

Anglers looking for DS Custom Tackle can find it at five exclusive locations: Dan's Tackle Box, Broadkill Beach Store, Lighthouse View Bait and Tackle, Icehouse Bait and Tackle, and Fenwick Tackle. It’s excellent gear made locally right here in Sussex County. "We have all kinds of people working for us making gear, helping keep people working and making money to supplement their income or work full time. We use the best components to make quality gear that catches fish,” Okonewski said.

I take people fishing a lot and when they aren't catching, I hand them a DS Custom Tackle rig and it changes their whole day. The sharp hooks catch fish, unlike the cheaper mass-produced junk we see everywhere. Quality gear that is locally made; I don't use anything else.

The Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier has been busy this year and currently has a huge spot bite. Anglers have been loading up coolers. The regular summer fish like in the surf are at the pier. A lot of flounder – many throwbacks for a keeper, but they are there. Gulp has been the preferred bait for flounder, with the only issue being Gulp is hard to find due to supply chain issues. Fishbites Fight Club is a good alternative for a scented artificial soft plastic. Live mullet or strips of mullet are good flounder bait.

The boys in the Lighthouse View Bait and Tackle shop at the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier can tell you the daily hot catch. The pier is a great place to take the kids to fish.

Offshore success

Offshore anglers are doing well with sea bass and flounder. Mahi are hitting hard as well. Hire a charter and hit the water. Weekdays are less crowded; that goes for all of our fishing locations. Weekends are always busy. The tuna bite has been excellent and also billfish. The offshore anglers are producing a lot of catches.

Flounder has been hot offshore this year. Inshore and offshore boats are bailing some nice flounder. The Inland Bays have decent catches, but you pick through a lot of throwbacks to get a keeper fish.

Get outside and fish this September, and fish into the winter – you would be surprised how many people stop fishing when “the season" ends. But we know the season doesn't end; the fishing just changes. Check out Delaware Surf Fishing for constantly updated fishing reports. See you in the sandbox!

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