Summer has officially arrived
Well it is officially summer! West winds are bringing lots of flies and so many vehicles on the beach you can barely find a place to park.
The waterways and sandbars are packed with boats as far as you can see. There are so many crab pot buoys in some areas you could walk across the inland bays without getting your feet wet. The best part is this all only happens on the weekend. The weekdays are still rather calm and quiet, and that is the best time to go fishing. Weekends are the best times to cut the grass and work in the gardens. In my opinion, all of the weekend commotion along the coast really makes for bad fishing conditions. Too many sounds and smells to push the fish away for a few days. Saturday and Sunday the fishing is usually not that great, and on Monday we go out and hammer fish all day. This happens for two reasons:
First, there are fewer people here Monday to Thursday, even Friday, aside from the usual Monday holdovers and the normal work traffic. People might fish a little more at lunchtime than they do normally, but for the most part there are very few people out and about compared to the weekend. The waterways are not as disturbed and the beach is almost vacant of vehicles. Second, there are more places to fish with less pressure.
We can walk a beach and fish a dozen cuts, not just get stuck wherever we find a parking spot. There are good and bad places to fish on the beach; if you can't fish the decent spots you will not catch as much. I watched this all weekend; people with rods out not paying attention getting lines bit off by bluefish. Meanwhile we aren't catching a thing because we need to be in that spot, not the one we are fishing. So goes the summer, the early bird catches the worm and the good spots. So what is going on out there?
We finally have small spot and croaker here being caught at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier along with some small weakfish or spike trout and sand perch. The summer fish are here. Fishbites bloodworms, or sand flea formula are working well. All of the Fishbite flavors work well for the smaller fish. Real bloodworms, squid, cut bait,and clam will work just as well but attract more scavengers like skates and of course small dogfish. If the live baits are producing too many "trash" fish then switch to artificials - they seem to attract more fish and fewer scavengers. The pier is also producing the occasional big bluefish on mullet or bunker chunks. The flounder action has been decent using minnows, Gulp, or jigging for them. Best place to fish flounder at the pier is around the pylons they are in the shadows and feeding on the critters that live on the pier poles.
The Lewes Canal flounder action has been the hot bite for flatties. Many anglers are finding decent action all over the canal using minnows or Gulp. Just drift the canal in the deeper areas and fish along structure. The inland bay flounder action is not good at all, but the Indian River Inlet has produced a few decent-sized summer flounder. Offshore action on the "flounder grounds" has been good and will just get better. The Flounder Pounder Open at Paradise Grill this year is up to a hundred-thousand-dollar first prize. Registration starts August first.
Striped bass action is mostly short bass at the Indian River Inlet along the jetties using bucktails, spec rigs, jigs, or poppers. Soon if not already you will be able to use sand fleas at night and hammer away at short striped bass. That is always a lot of fun. You can still catch short striped bass in the surf, around the inland bays, and the Lewes Canal. Lot of small sea bass along the rocks at the inlet hitting cut baits and bloodworms. Oyster crackers are a constant catch and believe it or not they are good to eat.
Weakfish, our beloved state fish, are less the unicorn catch this year. There have been some decent-sized fish at the scales being caught in the Broadkill River, along the Delaware beaches, and the bay wreck and structure sites. One guy near Cape May took a twelve pounder to the scales, a true tide runner. Anglers fishing for flounder in the Lewes Canal are hitting weakies on Gulp or minnows. Boats in the Delaware Bay are catching them on clam and squid while fishing the wrecks and structure. The surf anglers along the bay beaches are seeing them hit bloodworms and cut baits on top and bottom rigs. A two-ounce jig head with a pink zoom will produce weak fish if they are in the area. A keeper only has to be thirteen inches long and you can only keep one per day per angler.
Sea bass action offshore continues to be good for the boats headed out to fish the wrecks and reef sites. Clam is always the best bait. Anglers are hitting two at a time almost as soon as the line hits the bottom. It isn't taking long for them to limit our on some nice citation-sized black sea bass.
Shark action has been good offshore for mako and thresher with some large ones being brought to the scales. Bluefish are good bait for the toothy units. Shore anglers are catching a lot of dusky, sandbar and sand tiger sharks. Just remember they are prohibited to be removed from the water.
The bluefish are still here but the catches are random. Small schools are moving up and down the Delaware beaches. Most of the time they hit so fast you see a rod bounce and then it stops due to the fact the line was cut by those razor-sharp teeth. Many anglers never even notice this happen if they are not watching their rod the entire time. Always check your line every twenty minutes. Fresh bait every twenty to thirty minutes is a good idea as well. If you are using top and bottom rigs and catching a lot of small fish chances are the blues are not in the area. The little fish tend to stay as far away from the bigger fish as possible.
Kingfish are now hitting readily in the surf on all off the beaches. Using top and bottom rigs with bloodworms, sand fleas, Fishbites, clam, or squid. We like to use Diamond State Custom tackle rigs, the hooks they use really grab fish. These are available at most bait shops in the area, and are locally made in Delaware by anglers for anglers.
Puffers and burrfish are hitting in the surf and the bays. They are being caught on top and bottom rigs with cut bait, Fishbites, clam, or squid. Fun to catch - just watch your hands. The burrfish are spiny to begin with, the northern puffers have small spines that feel like rough sandpaper. Handling a lot of them can cause your skin to swell up for a day.
Skates, dogfish, and rays are readily hitting in the surf, bays, and from the piers. The big cownose rays and whiptails are actually fun to catch; they are some serious pullage, and it takes some skill not to snap the line when you get them close to the surf. The butterfly rays are the same way and I know a few folks that bowfish for them and eat the meat. They make some tasty dips.
A world record for bowfishing for rays was set in Delaware about a week ago, but that is another story for another day.