Summer surf fishing actually producing

June 28, 2019

For the first time in many years, there are actually fish in the surf during the summer. While they may be small, the kings, short trout, pompano, blues and croakers still give us something to catch.

If you are serious about catching fish from the beach in the summer, you will have to put in a little effort. You can’t cast out, put the rod in a sand spike and then go sit under an umbrella and consume a cold beverage. The critters will strip your bait in seconds, and bare hooks catch very few fish.

I have found that casting out as far as possible and then slowly reeling in the rig to cover as much bottom as you can before the critters have their way with your bait seems to be the most productive technique. On Friday and Tuesday, I used this method at Three Rs Road and had good success. I baited with bloodworms and cut bait, and caught kings and short trout both days. You may want to try sand fleas, as they are a good bait for pompano and at least two of them were caught last week. I have reports of blues and sand perch being caught from the beach, but so far, they have eluded me.

On Friday, as I was catching my kings and trout, the fellow next to me was catching 5- to 6-foot toothy sharks. He would cast out and snag a bunker from the schools close to the beach, then cast the live bunker farther out on his conventional outfit. He was not targeting sharks in particular, but that’s what he was catching.

Since it is summer and the seas are usually calm, and the baits and rigs are small, you don’t need a heavy surf outfit. I am using a 10-foot rod rated for 2 to 6 ounces with a medium surf reel filled with 40-pound braid. My rig is hand-tied out of 20-pound mono and holds two small circle hooks. Since I don’t want to hold bottom, I use a 3-ounce bank sinker.

As much as I love circle hooks, I have found trying to thread a bloodworm onto one is a bit of a chore. It can be done, but it does take patience, a quality I have never been accused of possessing.

FishBite bloodworms have been getting a lot of credit for catching fish this summer. They are less expensive than bloodworms and easier to handle. I did use them Friday, and they seemed to work.

The other problem with summer surf fishing is the weekend crowds. One solution is to fish the evenings after work or try to get to the beach very early Saturday or Sunday morning. The crowds don’t arrive until 10 a.m., so you can find a good location and get in some decent fishing before they show up.

Always bring plenty of sunscreen and bug spray. The sun is as high as it gets right now, and with the wind out of the west, the flies are out in full force.

Fishing report

Flounder have been caught in a number of locations from the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal to the Old Grounds. The problem has been finding a consistent bite. The wind and the current are seldom in agreement, which is critical in the deep water at the Old Grounds. The other problem is finding flounder that meet the 16.5-inch minimum size. My friend Bob Baker fished with a friend out of Wachapreague on Sunday. They caught 65 flounder to cull out eight keepers. From my reports, this seems to be less of a problem at the Old Grounds.

The offshore tuna bite has slowed down. Boats are still catching yellowfins and bluefins, but not in the numbers of previous weeks. Dolphin are still around and billfish have been caught. Some boats are switching to deep dropping for tilefish when the tuna don’t cooperate.

Closer to shore, I had reports of croaker at Indian River Inlet along the southside by the bathhouse. I spent a half hour there Tuesday and saw nothing caught at all. Perhaps I was there at the wrong time.

On Monday, my wife Barbara and I fished the Delaware Bay from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. It was a bit breezy, and we started at the ferry wall, then moved to the Inner Wall before moving to the burned-out part of the fishing pier. I finally caught a few spot on bloodworms and Barbara caught two short flounder on minnows and Gulp! between the two piers. After that, we moved off Beach Plum Island, where I got into short trout and kings on bloodworms in 9 feet of water off the big boathouse.

  • 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 several publications and 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

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