Migratory action falling off in Delaware waterways

By Rich King
Posted 6/15/22

The spring migratory fishing combined with summer arrivals is still in full swing, but the migratory is dropping off. There were and still are a lot of kingfish in the surf, mostly hitting Fishbites …

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Migratory action falling off in Delaware waterways


The spring migratory fishing combined with summer arrivals is still in full swing, but the migratory is dropping off. There were and still are a lot of kingfish in the surf, mostly hitting Fishbites sand flea formula and bloodworm formula. It is still tough getting bloodworms due to supply issues, but shops have some on the weekends. Always good to have many bait options for picky fish.

Bluefish, black drum and striped bass are still on the migratory hit list, but the action is slowing down. More sheepshead and now cobia have shown up and no one knows why, and at this point we stopped trying to figure it out. They are early. Just fish and see what happens. They have been caught as far up as Jersey.

The Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier has been productive. Great place to take the kids fishing. They even rent rods there at the Lighthouse View Bait and Tackle Shop.

Flounder action has been alright with keepers produced almost daily. The shop has a great Facebook page that puts up reports nearly by the hour on a great day.

The spot bite has been good too on most days and tides. The low tides there are an issue. The pier is shallow more than halfway out. The fishing around the old structure is great. A kayak can access that area very easy, and jig the old pier poles for flounder. A lot of striped bass, weakfish and bluefish feed on that structure. Triggers will feed on the poles when they show up late summer.

The crabbing is fun but mostly sponge females because the area is a higher salinity you will catch more female crabs or sooks.

The surf has been fun for spot and kingfish catches and small weakfish on occasion. There are always a lot of dogfish and skates of course. The sharks are arriving, sand tiger, dusky, black tips at Assateague recently, and sand bar sharks. Ninety percent of shark catches along the beaches are the prohibited species and must be immediately released and not removed from the water. If you can’t work a shark in the water, cut the line as close to the hook as you can is the rule per DNREC. There are threshers off the beaches jumping too, fun to spot.

Decent random bluefish action on mullet rigs. Anglers using bunker chunks are targeting striped bass. Clam as bait, they are targeting black drum and striped bass. Sand fleas target just about everything. Honestly it is hard to say most days what a fish will prefer for bait. That can change daily, fish with a variety see what produces the most.

Always have a spoon at the ready to cast for bluefish schools, or snag a fresh bunker for bait. Spanish mackerel are starting to show up at the inlets and along the beaches. That is some fun action on metals, like deadly dicks or silver stingers. Reel very fast, not like wrist-breaking fast, but faster than you would normally retrieve a lure. That is why the deadly dicks and stingers work good. They can dart through the water. Reeling a spoon too fast makes it spin like a propeller, and fish don’t like that action.

Cobia are picky eaters and they are being caught by anglers targeting the spring migratory fish. Not one bait has been the best, they have all produced a cobia here and there. Sheepshead are hitting the sand fleas being used for black drum. These are by catch. No one is targeting them specifically because they shouldn’t be here yet. Eels are a preferred bait by the boat anglers to target cobia.

Surf fishing, you can use eels but they like to tangle up the line. You have to clip off the end of the tail to prevent them wrapping up in your line. Putting an eel on ice slows it down for sure, and is the preferred technique for hooking the eel up as bait. But once they hit that water and warm up, they get rather “active”. You now have an angry, awake eel on your line. It will wrap your line up like a Christmas present you will never get open.

Charters are doing well. The first big eye tuna was brought to the scales in Ocean City over last weekend. The first white marlin was caught last week. That action is starting up. Start booking charters now, weekdays are better. Sea bass trips are filling coolers. The offshore flounder action has finally picked up at most of the sites. Mahi action is picking up. A record was set for a pompano dorado (Coryphaena equiselis) and now everyone discovered there is a different species of mahi mahi aka dorado aka dolphin fish.

Charles Noonan, 18 caught a 11.34-pound pompano dorado off the coast of North Carolina. It broke the state record, and it is an IGFA-pending world record.

Crowded beaches, and our membership in the OSG (Orange Sticker Gang), we can’t drive on the beach on weekends now. I have plenty of other things to do and places to fish on a crowded weekend.

We spent the day at Masseys Landing on Saturday afternoon waiting for the boat ramp show while fishing the rail. When it is forecast to rain in the afternoon on a weekend, go to a busy state boat ramp. The panic to get off the water that ensues is really comical. All state boat ramps put on a show every weekend, even without rain. You just never know what you will see. Fishing the rail for flounder and a show to boot. The rain pushed off and we didn’t get that show, or flounder, but there is always one.

I surf fished the past three days on the beaches starting at about five in the morning. Weekdays are the best. I am the only vehicle out there for hours most mornings.

Delaware is losing her surf anglers. It is not only seen on the beaches with low numbers surf fishing all week, but in the bait shops as well in sales, especially bait. The weekend economic impact from the surf fishing beaches is transitioning to suntan lotion, cornhole and booze. Anglers are giving up due to the crowds on weekends and going elsewhere with their money. Sad to see that happening. One would think that fake fishing would generate revenue and it does not. Return, constant business does, which comes from actual anglers.

Limiting vehicle access would bring back the surf anglers. If you aren’t chased off the beach due to overcrowding, you have room to can stay and fish (catch) all day. Each day this week I caught over 40 kingfish in three hours. You can’t do that on the weekends. Even during the midday and evenings this week, I either went back out, or friends were bailing kingfish all day. Tacos for days.

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