Conditions perfect for big, small and odd catches

By Rich King
Posted 8/10/23

The outdoor conditions have been much better. Minus the heavy storm systems, we have had some mild summer weather for August, so far. Cooler nights are a nice break but a gentle reminder fall is …

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Conditions perfect for big, small and odd catches


The outdoor conditions have been much better. Minus the heavy storm systems, we have had some mild summer weather for August, so far. Cooler nights are a nice break but a gentle reminder fall is coming. I am thinking it is time to start getting some of the gear ready for fall fishing. We will have the summer shoulder season of fish to deal with, so we usually gear up a couple rods for fall fish and leave the other rods set for summer. I have a 13-foot Lamiglass built in the ‘70s by a Montauk surfcaster, I picked up from Bill McGee. I put an old Penn Greenie on it with 20-pound mono for my summer small fish rod. It’s fun to cast and gets some looks. I originally did this for the Boy Scout troop we fish with every year. I wanted to show these kids what their grandfathers used. The rod set-up worked well, and I decided to keep using it and have been ever since. It’s like casting an angry spaghetti noodle, smooth with an attitude.

The summer surf fishing has been the same as usual: small fish like croaker, spot, kingfish, weakfish, sand perch, etc. There are skates, rays and sharks for days using cut bait. Fishbites is producing on many of the formulas. By the way, this is the only artificial bait that seems to be legally accepted as your bait for the drive-on surf fishing beaches. Fake fishing tip 101, keep a pack of Fishbites in your glove box. Those freeze-dried shad might not be acceptable; I don’t think a fish would even accept those anyway.

The tropical fish will start showing up more and more. It’s always fun to see what weird fish we catch each summer. I still want to go tarpon fishing on the fly in Virginia. Who knows, maybe they will show up in the surf soon in Delaware.

The Cape Henlopen fishing pier has been producing a lot of spade fish. Anglers using chicken for bait are doing well catching spade fish. No one has ever seen this many spade fish around the pier. Maybe there was a population burst in spade fish this year. There are also lots of other species around the pier. There was a school of red fish (drum) around last week. Anglers are still seeing large red drum at Assateague Island, mostly at night. Spot has been the bait of choice for red drum. Use a drum rig or a surf rig from DS Custom Tackle. They are perfect for landing drum.

The inlets are producing multiple species: trigger, sheepshead, croaker, spot, striped bass, bluefish, etc. Toss sand fleas as bait for trigger and sheepshead. The striped bass will hammer sand fleas, especially at night. That is fun action.

Bluefish will move in and out with the tides. You just have to be there, and on the right side sometimes.

Fishing the inlets is fun, you never know what you will pull up. I have seen many a lobster the past couple weeks and one octopus.

Spear anglers and scuba divers, check out Breakwater Bait and Tackle in Cape Henlopen State Park at the pier. They are now carrying JBL spear-fishing gear for hunting the rocks to the open blue.

Flounder fishing has been better offshore than inshore for larger keepers. That is par for the course these days. Drifting minnows or jigging soft plastics are the best methods. Jigging in the surf takes some time but can produce some nice flounder.

If you are throwing lures for fish in the surf, check your angle. We cast at about a 30- to 40-degree angle along the beach. That is usually where the fish are hunting. You can cast straight out but you only have a small window for presentation of your gear to fish. Casting along the beach keeps your gear in the same area as fish longer. It also allows you to cross more than one of those small cuts.

If there is a rip current, we fish those straight out and let the gear flutter in the currents. You’d be amazed how hard a bluefish will hit a fluttering spoon in a current. If you get the rip current just right, the spoon or lure can just flutter there in the current and you just hold the rod. It’s like trolling, but without the boat. I’ve done this in heavy rips with divers and stretches, too, especially around inlets. Big bait, big fish.

Clamming is closed around Indian River and the bay due to a sewage spill. This includes mussels. That spill is going to take a while to flush out that far up the river with all the silting over the decades. There are mud flats and then there is flat mud. The upper Indian River is gross at low tide. It used to be an abundant fishery full of eel grass and a variety of life. Now it’s a giant mud flat with a small steady channel you can barely move a boat through.

Crabbing is good around the inland bays, just clean them and cook them a little longer due to the spill. I clean my crabs and always will, it drives some people crazy. That mustard is not good for you and is full of all kinds of toxins these days. Maybe 200 years ago it was OK to eat, before all that pollution. If you want some real fun, get on the crabbing pages and watch the steam or boiled arguments between southern and northern crabbers. It’s hilarious, 9/10 I highly recommend.

Ribbonfish are showing up in numbers again this year. They are actually pretty good to eat, too.

Striped bass summer slot season for the Delaware Bay and her tributaries is open until Aug. 31. There have been a lot of decent slots caught all over the bay and tributaries. The Cape Henlopen fishing pier is in the slot. The Lewes canal is legal from the Freeman Highway bridge to the Roosevelt Inlet.

If you like great fishing podcasts, check out Finding Demo Surf Fishing Podcast. Brian Demo covers a variety of subjects and anglers with techniques that work coastwide.
The Ommelanden rifle/pistol range has reopened. Contact the range for details on hours, but all is back on usual operations.

Maryland is creating a new black bass fund. Anglers can donate to the fund when purchasing a license for research and conservation efforts to preserve the resource.

Maryland DNR is also running the Striped Bass Volunteer Angler Survey this summer season. Look it up online; they are asking for input on your striped bass catches. This is a citizen science program. Maryland DNR does a lot of cool stuff for their fishery with anglers.

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