Summer is winding down. The cooler nights and mornings are glorious for fishing and exploring. The hotter afternoons move us indoors or closer to water. The crowds are diminishing on the weekdays and soon on the weekends, except the drive-on beaches. Once the reservation system is out of play, those beaches will be packed on weekends for at least a month. But at least The Point will be open and none of those “active surf fishing” folks go near a beach before 8 a.m.
Fishing has picked up in the surf a bit. Kingfish and spot action has been better, using Fishbites, squid pieces, live bloodworms or sand fleas. Bloodworms are much more expensive this year. Anglers are sticking to Fishbites formulas as a great alternative.
There are a lot of shark anglers doing it wrong in the surf and posting to the internet. I think we deny 20 posts a week on DSF’s group page, that are guaranteed tickets for illegal possession. If you pose with a prohibited species, it is considered possession and you can be charged. This is true for sharks, billfish, etc. Even catch and release can be ticketed. It sounds weird, but if you pose with the prohibited fish, it shows you have control or possession over that fish. Posting to social media is also a really bad idea. If you post a catch-and-release billfish picture with a caption stating as much, and the angler is shown with it in the boat out of the water, it is illegal.
The bait fish are plentiful around the inland bays. I can throw a cast net and barely lift it, full of peanut bunker or mullet. The birds and fish are feeding heavily on these bait schools. The short striped bass will school up and feed in force soon. It’s time for some surf rat wrangling. When the mullet move out into the ocean in force, that makes for some fun top water action. Mullet plugs will produce.
I just picked up a new Kiss My Fish walking bait in bone white. I am looking forward to slapping some fish around. The fly rods are all rigged up now, too, with shrimp flies for short bass along the grass and mud banks. I’m looking forward to a fun fall, now if I can just get a hot minute to actually fish. Work is getting in the way of my fishing. I hardly know what saltwater smells like anymore and it is only five miles away. Next delivery, the truck gets pulled into the ocean — “Sorry boss, can’t make it back today, gonna fish this new structure.”
Flounder action has been decent. The larger flounder are smaller this year. They get a little smaller every year it seems. Flounder migrate back and forth off the coast, not up and down the coast. NOAA has shown that larger flounder are shifting farther north for cooler water, much like other species they have been studying. The same is occurring with highly migratory species, such as tuna.
It doesn’t matter if you want to call it climate change that is manmade or not, the fact remains this is occurring and anglers will have to adjust accordingly. Flounder action in the surf will pick up as they move out of the back bays to migrate into the ocean’s surf zone, and finally offshore over the fall into the winter. They feed as they go and stuff themselves for a winter “nap.”
Drifting minnows or pork strips and jigging is producing many a flounder. I like picking them up along the bay beaches in Cape Henlopen State Park on a fly rod. This is much better fishing during the weekdays, when the beach is empty. You need to walk and fish a lot. I like to move up and down The Point. Sometimes I just park the truck and walk in because the entire area, from The Point to the pier, produces fish.
Offshore action has been great for the boats going out. Book your favorite charters now. The summer is winding down. I always look forward to a mild shoulder season which looks promising for this fall. The anticipation of drum runs and big striped bass is on our minds, as we catch all the summer suspects for tacos. I have yet to see a pompano this year, but we have plenty of time.
Freshwater action is fun, minus all the bugs. Top water is a lot of fun and my fly rod is getting a workout on small farm ponds at a friend’s house. All the noisy top water baits will produce. I grew up using nothing but a Mepps. My grandfather said, “If you can’t figure out how to catch everything on this, you can’t fish.” Challenge accepted. Honestly it was because they weren’t going to buy me any more gear, so I learned to use that Mepps as much as possible.
Top water was Hula Poppers. This was back in the day before all the buzz baits. “Make that bright orange Hula Popper look and sound like a frog.” Wait, what? Fishing has advanced so much with gear and tech. I prefer my old techniques I learned as a kid.
Get your fall gear ready for the big fish that will be here sooner than later.