For seasoned anglers, it’s not about the fish

By Rich King
Posted 5/29/24

I had to run to the north for the holiday weekend. I would have thought the roads heading north on a Friday on Memorial Day weekend would be packed with traffic but they only were when I hit rush …

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already a member? Log in to continue.   Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in

For seasoned anglers, it’s not about the fish


I had to run to the north for the holiday weekend. I would have thought the roads heading north on a Friday on Memorial Day weekend would be packed with traffic but they only were when I hit rush hour above New York. The amount of traffic headed to the coast was amazing. I never get out to really see that traffic but I see the complaints online. And of course, we live in the middle of the end result of it down here at the beaches. But to see miles upon miles of traffic was pretty wild. I knew the beaches would be out of control.

I had to go north for a family emergency, luckily to a place that is so quiet you can hear the hummingbirds coming, as the bullfrogs sing their songs in a light breeze with the leaves and pines rustling. It is a serious transition from the city or a congested beach.

June 1 and 2 are free fishing days in Delaware. Anglers do not need a license, so get out and try some fishing. Breakwater Bait and Tackle at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier rents gear if you want to try fishing out. They even rent surf rod setups for the beaches to try out surf fishing. Get a DS Custom Tackle mullet rig and go land a gator bluefish. You’ll never want to stop fishing, or you’ll lose a finger. Do not lip a bluefish. Talk to a local bait shop owner for some tips and places to try out. Once you learn that fishing was never about the fish, then you’re a seasoned angler. We never stop learning or yearning.

The fishing has been decent for spring. Some anglers have managed a few red drum. It’s good to see that fishery is producing more each year in our area. The northeast used to have a really good red drum fishery but like many fisheries from days gone by, the fish have as well. Many are slowly coming back. That includes weakfish. This is one reason you hear very little about these fish biting — many anglers know the best thing to do is not make it too public where and when to catch X. I know it’s odd to protect a fish you are fishing for, especially if releasing the catch, but here we are. It’s not a spot protection thing as much as a let these fish increase their numbers thing. Also weakfish is tasty and no you can’t have mine. I only eat one a year, and not just because of the consumption advisory.

Kingfish is great bait for red drum as are mullet. Kingfish are around if you can filter through the occasional gear-destroying bluefish. Many anglers will save kingfish heads for drum bait after cleaning their catch for the table. Fish scraps are good for soup stocks, bait or the garden. We don’t waste anything.

Crabs are a great drum bait and crabbing around the inland bays has been good. I can’t imagine what the bays look like around the communities. Crab pot island.

The bluefish action is still happening but it is random on all the beaches and surrounding waterways. The internet and social media make it look like blitz conditions with all the catches. There are small random schools for action. The entire coast is not being blitzed at once. It’s great to see this much bluefish action. It has been fun for many anglers.

Flounder fishing has picked up around the Cape Henlopen fishing pier and the canal. The inland bays are producing as well, by drifting minnows or jigging with soft plastics. The Roosevelt Inlet is always a good place to try for flounder and many other species. It’s fun to watch the boats go through, but not as exciting as the Indian River Inlet.

Black sea bass is cranking up. Check with the charters. They have black drum trips still available, too, as long as the big bruisers are still around. So far, many are still being landed from the beaches and boats.

The best advice is get out and fish for anything and see what happens. Once you come to terms with the fact you might get skunked more often than not, you’re a really seasoned angler. That’s the lie we tell ourselves. When you don’t care is when you are well seasoned. “Did you catch?” “Nope, but I fished.”

Explore new places, too. You might be surprised at what you can find around Delmarva.

I’m sitting on a dock with a remote setup, writing this column, looking out at the world from a lake on the side of a mountain, casting at bass pairs that swim by the dock every 15 minutes or so. The dog is looking at me impatiently — he wants to swim. Not while I’m “working,” buddy. Oh, there’s another pair swimming by. They look to be four-plus pounds. Maybe I’ll wait for the next two — they might be bigger on the next pass. Also I’d have to get out of this chair, or do I?

Have a great weekend. The season is upon us.

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.