Nice variety of catches in the bay and at the beaches

By Rich King
Posted 6/8/23

I’m a little disappointed this Canadian smoke doesn’t smell like bacon and maple syrup. It has been rough outside if you have respiratory issues. Usually you can go to the beach and get …

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Nice variety of catches in the bay and at the beaches


I’m a little disappointed this Canadian smoke doesn’t smell like bacon and maple syrup. It has been rough outside if you have respiratory issues. Usually you can go to the beach and get that offshore breeze to clear the air, and even that isn’t working. Canada has already surpassed records for areas burned compared to years past. Be prepared for more smoky days this week.

The spring into summer slow roll has been nice for fishing conditions and species varieties. That is starting to lighten up a bit with the migratory fish moving farther north. However more fish will arrive in force for summer. Who wants to go fly fishing for tarpon in Virginia Beach this year? Maybe hit the OBX for the red drum running right now? This spring seems to be better fishing than years past. Maybe the smoke is helping.

The offshore action has blown up for tuna. Boats are filling carts in Ocean City, the Sunset Marina’s Facebook page said the other day. A lot of tuna are being caught, the only issue has been the weekend conditions. A small craft advisory is no fun if you are not a seasoned boater. “Man, you gotta really want it to deal with those conditions, and the payoff is worth it,” said a buddy of mine. I’m going to get mine out of a can until things calm down. I know, it’s a different fish, but you get the point.

Inshore anglers are catching flounder, and some nice, occasional weakfish in the Delaware Bay. Bowers Bayside Bait and Tackle has reported decent catches of flounder, weakfish and croaker are showing up more and more. You can take a boat out of Bowers Beach at the ramp, and fish the inlet, jetty, the town docks or the beach. There are a lot of options in Bowers for some Delaware Bay fishing, as well as the other Bay beach towns.

Spot are also on the menu throughout our waterways, showing up in the surf and all the popular spots. They are great for the table when they get to size and perfect for bait. They’re also known as striped bass candy. Flounder will hammer a small live spot. One of my favorite things to do is catch a small spot, then put it on a 3/0 wide gap hook and send it out. I do this at just about every land-based fishing area. Those big fish aren’t in there for fun. They are hunting the same bait you are catching. That’s the duality of fishing — I am fishing for bait to fish for dinner at the same time. It’s a lot of fun. Well, maybe not for the spot, and that keeper flounder.

Flounder action has been decent for this time of year. Anglers are catching fish all over our waterways now, by artificial baits jigging or drifting minnows. Fly anglers in the surf will fish the cuts and along the edges of the Delaware Bay beaches to pick up flounder. If you go to the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier in the late evening, you can find small flounder along the edge of the surf that are hunting baitfish. It’s a fun activity for the kids to find a flounder with a flashlight along the bay beach edge. It’s much like looking for soft crabs back in the day, with flashlights and floating boxes.

Surf fishing is producing a variety of catches. It depends on what you rig for and honestly you can’t control what bites your hooks. The fish can’t read the little signs we put on the hooks. I mean, if the spot and kingfish would just realize I am using a spot and kingfish rig and get it together, that would be great.

Bluefish are random action but around in a variety of sizes. The spring skinny gators are still around a bit, but it is mostly the 2-pound snappahs. They are perfect for the table, with the carcass for crab or minnow bait. Try mullet rigs for the bait and wait set-ups. Fireball rigs work well, too, with cut bait pieces or Fishbites. You will pick up skates, etc., the same as you will pick up on mullet rigs. Cut bait catches more scavengers, skates, rays and sharks.

The artificial baits like Fishbites will target more of the fishy fish using smaller rig set-ups, mostly due to the variety and numbers of the smaller fish. Again, the fish can’t read those tiny signs on the hooks.

Sheepshead are being caught at the Indian River and OCMD inlets. Short striped bass and keeper striped bass are around. Bluefish move through on occasion in blitz-style schools.
The inlet is a fun place to fish, it changes constantly: flounder along the walls on the bay side; spot, croaker, etc., all over the walls. It offers a lot of variety and activity on the daily. The only issue is you have to decide how much gear you want to lose that day and fish your limit. When I hit X, I’m going home. Fishing the Indian River or Ocean City inlets is like driving a race car. Take your eyes off what you are doing for a hot second and you’re in the wall.

Sharks are around, so make sure you know the rules. I am seeing a lot of prohibited species pictures being posted. Big rays and the like are here, too, so if you rig big, you’re gonna deal with sharks and rays, with the occasional striped bass in between which is usually the goal. There are large resident striped bass that live in our waters and are caught throughout the summer. Targeting them is a challenge that few attempt.
Bloodworms are still expensive, to the point some shops aren’t even bothering carrying them now. Alternative artificial baits are a must and help put less strain on the bait industry.
Fishbites is doing well in the surf and surrounding waterways of Delmarva. I like Fishbites for the convenience, cleanliness and price point. Fishbites doesn’t die, or go bad. Stored in a cool place and sealed up, it will last for years. I have used dried-up pieces of Fishbites that were not stored properly. I put the strip(s) in water to soften it up to get it on the hook, then I hammered fish all day.

Breakwater Bait and Tackle at the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier is constantly updating its Facebook and Insta pages. Keep up with the pier action on the daily.

If you have never heard of powered paragliding, or paramotoring, think of a parachute that you can fly like a paraglider with a lawn mower on your back with a giant fan on that for the blade — now you’re “flying.” Ryan “Fan Man” Peters flies our coast often and gets some great pictures. Did you get any training for this? “Yes, from Aviator Paramotor, in Montana,” Ryan said. “I mean, you can legally do it without any training, but I value my life. It’s just an amazing perspective. I flew to a mile high last weekend. It was incredible.”

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