Now we are fully into summer fishing, warmer waters mean harder fishing in some areas, such as the Inland Bays. Flounder action is slower in some of the waterways inland. Lewes Canal, even the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier. There are still quality fish being caught but the frequency of catches has slowed a bit. Offshore and the Delaware Bay, catches are fine for flounder. Time for a boat.
Spot is the hot catch around the Cape Henlopen Pier. Bloodworms is preferred but still hard to find. The pier bait shop, Lighthouse View Bait and Tackle, tends to have a decent amount but they go fast. Fishbites for the alternative.
The offshore flounder and sea bass anglers are catching a lot of ribbon fish, which are actually good to eat. They just look freaky and are hard to clean.
Tautog action has been OK for this time of year on the walls in the Harbor of Safe Refuge. Sand fleas and green crabs are preferred bait. If you want to get really big tautog, I would try half to a whole legal-sized blue crab. Big bait, big fish.
Fish are funny, but they “know” how much energy they will get out of a meal. Large fish will not expend more energy than they can recover from a meal. Using small baits will catch smaller fish in most cases, especially in saltwater, unlike fly fishing for large trout or salmon which eat tiny bugs.
This is why you see the large-mouth bass anglers using large plugs now, like the Whopper Ploppers. They are landing much larger fish using larger lures. Big bait, big fish.
Striped bass summer slot season has been producing well in the Delaware Bay and tributaries. The Chesapeake Bay (Maryland side) has been closed for striped bass season due to temperature concerns this time of year. That is a new regulation. Over here we are just fine but it is a good point. Fish released in hotter water will struggle to be revived and can die easier due to poor oxygen levels. In some areas of the Inland Bays, that should be a concern in my opinion.
Clamming is decent but keep your shellfish cool for bacteria issues. Vibrio is always present in our waters and allowing clams to heat up can spike the growth. Keep them on ice until you are ready.
Crabbing is great around the Inland Bays and local waterways. We need more land-based areas for people to crab and fish in our beach towns. Many are missing out on a great experience and the usual places are very crowded. Cape Henlopen Pier is a good place to take kids. There is a small crabbing pier at Rosedale Beach out near Oak Orchard and Riverdale.
One way to catch crabs is go to the flats in Delaware Seashore State Park off Tower road or New Road (Kite Beach). We take an innertube with a basket, and crab net. Walk the flats, wear shoes for glass. Then you just scoop up crabs as you see them scurry along the bottom. You need polarized sunglasses and calm water, but it works rather well. Sometimes we use a fish carcass staked to the bottom to attract more crabs and just check each “spot” that we bait.
Surf fishing is producing a lot of kingfish. Bloodworms, Fishbites, squid chunks and sand fleas for bait. Great fish to eat. Don’t let anyone tell you fishing is bad in the summer. We catch fish all the time. It is much better on weekdays due to fewer crowds. On weekends earlier and later in the day is much better. Then there are the tides.
A low tide into the hot afternoon will produce fewer fish. The water gets too warm and they move out for cooler water. Cast farther. Usually the fish are in close right in the first breakers, just off the dropoff under the water. That is where all the food is being stirred up by wave action.
Bluefish have been the hardest to catch this year, which is odd but telling of the stock issues. Spoons are great for the schools that pass by the beach. The DS Custom Tackle modified mullet rig is perfect to get more hookups and use less bait. Now I am curious to see how the smaller summer cocktail blues are in the late summer at the point. I can not wait for that to open back up. Won’t be long now.
Weakfish, the state unicorn, are still making a comeback. It seems we keep seeing more larger fish caught and plenty of the spike size in the surf. Incoming tide is the best time for the tide runners. Targeting them is a crapshoot. Mostly people catch these while just fishing for whatever.