That heat wave, though! It has been brutal. We fish at night, predawn and are home by early morning to get back into the air conditioning. It has been a little rough some days. Stay hydrated and look to your people and pets for heat exhaustion signs. That happens fast this time of year. It will not be nearly as bad this weekend.
The heat wave also kicked in our awaited summer surf fishing species — pompano are slowly arriving. Fishbites Sand Flea, Crab or EZ Shrimp work best for pompano, as well as live sand fleas, especially the smaller ones on DS Custom Tackle top and bottom rigs or their new pompano rigs. The glow bullet floats are killer.
Shrimp is also an excellent bait for pompano. Salted shrimp will set up and make the meat a little tougher so it stays on the hook longer. Salt the shrimp the night before. Cut it into small fingernail-sized pieces and then tip the hook with a Fishbites bloodworm piece. Small pieces of salted clam will work, too. Most people forget the seafood when they go looking for bait options. I mean, who doesn’t like shrimp?
The fishing is hot to not, just have to put in that time. Last Wednesday we went to Assateague and found a nice spot with fish signs on the beach. We set up and hammered spot and kingfish for hours. It was a fun day — always more fun when you are catching.
I had the old 13-foot honey Lamiglass set up with an old Penn greenie reel — the ones that sound like a coffee grinder when you reel. It is great set up for the small surf fishing. The rod is from the ‘70s, she still has a little backbone to her. We took turns reeling that beast in because after the third time you don’t want to pick up the 50-year-old rod that weighs a ton of bricks. It isn’t the actual issue of weight, it is the fact that old Penn reel has about a one to zero gear ratio. It takes forever and a day to reel in a normal cast, compared to a reel of today that takes seconds. For a difficulty bonus, the reel is taped to the rod butt, there isn’t a reel seat. This rod was made by an old Montauk surf caster. It was not built for bait and wait comfort. I like using it in the summer for fun and it still functions. It reminds me of being out with my grandfather when I was a kid, especially that coffee grinder reel sound.
The fishing is better offshore for flounder than inshore or along the beaches and coastal waterways. The weekends are pretty crowded, too, which makes for tougher fishing the closer you are to shore. The hot weather helps because it forces earlier and later trips which produce more catches. It’s the best time to fish this time of year.
There are a lot of white perch in the Broadkill River. Kingfish are thick at times in the surf, spot as well. These all make for great table fare. Fish tacos for days. I like to just use what we catch that day and never really freeze any of the smaller fish. The meat will keep a couple days in the fridge. So long as I can bail a dozen or so a week, I have plenty of fish to eat.
The grill is waiting for my favorite summer beach snack. The pompano are showing in the Outer Banks more and more, so it won’t be long now. I’m just curious to see what other fish we see this summer. A triple tail or two would be nice, maybe a cuda. We see more and more tropical fish each year, longer and longer.
Look at Assateague, right now you can catch red drum. This has been occurring all summer long. That is just strange. It could be the sign of a fishery long gone coming back, or aliens. We always prefer the latter explanation. Speaking of which, there are a lot of cool shooting stars at night in the late summer. Night surf fishing has an amazing view with a natural soundtrack.
Weakfish are being caught more frequently in the upwards of a couple to few pounds range. It’s nice to see those come back more this year. Mostly around the Delaware Bay beaches and sites. A lot of the juvenile spike trout are in the surf.
Cobia action is picking up. Make sure you know the new limits for cobia. Cobia minimum size is now 37” total length. The minimum size applies to recreational anglers and commercial fishermen. The recreational possession limit is now one cobia per angler or per vessel. That is per day or per trip, whichever is longer. No closed season. The man in the brown suit makes a fine meal. Just make sure you are legal in size.
There is a pending Delaware state record cobia already this season at 89.2 pounds and 63 inches, caught by Scott Brooks of Hockessin.
A friend of mine is trying to talk me into a fly fishing trip down south for tarpon outside of Virginia. I just got a few new long rods, or wizard wands, and need to break them in first, but that sounds like fun.
Fly fishing the surf is great action in the early mornings, and productive. I don’t care what the tide is early mornings, everything wakes up and feeds. On really flat calm days, you can see so much action on the water at the beach. Schools of bait fish cruise along, and are then pushed up by predators, which helps to determine where to cast at times.
There are a lot of sheepshead on the rocks, wrecks and reefs. Ribbonfish are abundant for the offshore anglers going for sea bass or flounder. Those are tasty fish for sure.
The slot striped bass fishing in the Delaware Bay and tributaries has been decent action — a lot of fat bass for the dinner plate this summer. Use swim shads or small bucktails in tandem for the lure anglers. Sand fleaing for bass is fun on ultralight gear. Catch a bucket full of fleas and hit the Lewes Canal or Roosevelt Inlet. There is often confusion about the slot limits for summer striped bass in the Big D.
During the summer slot striped bass season in the Delaware Bay, River and tidal tributaries, you can only keep the summer slot-size striped bass. This slot season lasts until Aug. 31. If you are fishing areas not part of the summer slot season, such as the ocean, inland bays or Nanticoke, the 28” size limit remains in effect and you can not keep slot-size striped bass.
If you are clamming the inland bays, make sure you follow the DNREC maps for restricted areas. Those areas are closed due to bacteria levels which are harmful for consumption and in some cases exposure to open wounds. There are maps in the fishing guide. There are usually signs telling about closed areas, but these tend to disappear during storms.
The tuna action offshore has been great for many of the boats. Check for trips, they are booking up fast it seems. Again, weekdays are the best for more action and less company out there, but that never guarantees a good catch.
Testing tackle at Assateague with DS Custom Tackle owner David Okonewski: “So as the crew were out on the sand doing some product reliability testing, we stumbled upon a chance to prove a point as to why we make our rigs the way we do.
“As we all know there are multiple ways to make dropper loop rigs, hi-lo rigs, whatever you’d like to call them. Some people cut the loop and snell a hook onto the mono. We prefer to put the hook directly on to the dropper loop, cross it over and lock the hook in place. Surprisingly we get a lot of flack about how we do this, but today provided us a real-world chance to show why it’s superior.
“At about 9:30 a.m., we got a double hook up of a nice kingfish and a little lady crab, on our Pompano Rig. The crab, doing crab things, broke one side of the dropper loop. However, the hook remained in place on a now technically broken rig. So we wagered amongst ourselves how long the hook would stay in place. We all lost that bet. Cast after cast, fish caught after fish caught, the hook never moved.
“As we were packing up for the morning, the rig was still there, catching fish. This proved the point that the way we do things, while it may appear different on the surface, is for a good reason. That reason is that our rigs will keep you on the fish, whether whole or broken, longer than anyone else’s.”
Get out and fish. The Point will be open in about five weeks. I am looking forward to the fall fishing, but I would like summer to slow down a bit.