Reminiscing, and why it’s never been about the fish

By Rich King
Posted 9/13/23

The fishing the past week has been decent for this time of year. That one-and-done drum run hit Delaware for a day but you never know, it could crank back up. Assateague is seeing a decent night bite …

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Reminiscing, and why it’s never been about the fish


The fishing the past week has been decent for this time of year. That one-and-done drum run hit Delaware for a day but you never know, it could crank back up. Assateague is seeing a decent night bite of large red drum. The park is open to the state line now, too. Unfortunately this coming weekend, Lee is going to be visiting in one form or another. The predicted storm surge is upwards of 11-foot waves Saturday and gale force winds. This will change, for better or worse, but the weekend is looking right nautical. Plan accordingly and keep an eye on your weather apps.

The fishing is always great before a storm. We always fish the beginning of a storm and will fish in a storm. Hurricanes and nor’easters create dangerous surf conditions and must be respected. But fishing these is doable, if anything just to say you tried. We are out here because we are crazy and love to fish. Striped bass love rough surf and weather conditions. It’s a great time to target the bigger fish. Besides, what else are you going to do? Sit inside where it is warm and dry? No great stories started with, “We were on the couch when ...”

The surf has been producing a lot of pompano now as far up as Bowers Beach. Small jacks are being caught and small blue runners. Spot, croaker and kingfish have been decent catches. There have been some nice weakfish around the Delaware Bay beaches.

Assateague is seeing a host of summer fish and the red drum. There are many options to fish at Assateague, not just the beaches. The bay access areas have some great fishing and clamming.

There are sharks, rays and skates for days — just throw out some cut bait and wait. You never know what a chunk of dead fish is going to catch.

Inland bay crabbing is still excellent. The waters are still warm, upwards of 80 degrees some days, and dropping to 75 on the incoming tides. There is a variety of fish around the inland bays. The best advice is to fish rips and current. If not, find hard bottom that consists of mussel beds. The marsh banks are great fishing on outgoing tides. As the water flows out of the grassy areas, it brings food with it in the form of bait fish, grass shrimp and small crabs. The fish sit there and feed on this buffet along the bank edges. We just sit in our yaks out far enough to be within casting distance and throw small bucktails or swim shads into the grass edges. Once the lure hits the edge or drops off the ledge, a fish usually slams the lure. This is great for schooling short striped bass.

Inlets are still seeing sheepshead and so is Massey’s Ditch at the fishing pier at Massey’s Landing. Triggers are still around the rock walls and reef and wreck sites. We are still seeing some spade fish, too.

We had some fun at The Point over the weekend. It was nice to just drive to the park, ride out to the beach, park and surf fish. The fake demand of the need for reservations has cleared the beaches. Granted schools, etc. are in session, but you can tell the OSV beaches are back to some semblance of normal for this time of year. It’s good to see that finally. While actively surf fishing, we always get a little bored waiting for a bite. I hate bait and wait. I’ll fly fish, take pictures, cast lures and eat a ridiculous amount of snacks.

Every surf fishing trip, there is some new thing to try. This is always about having fun while fishing. I don’t know any other way. Honestly, if we were doing this for food, we would starve.
My buddy Andrew Hansen showed up that morning with a Ronco Pocket Fishermen, brand new in the box with all the included gear. It has a small casting spoon, perfect for the blues at The Point. In the truck it goes. We are going to have some fun today.

I have my fly rod as usual. I have been practicing casting every time I am out. It is not about the fish. I am spending time with my grandfather when I pick up that fly rod. I start whipping around the long wand. He is near me in my head, telling me what I am doing wrong on each “off” flick of my wrist. I refine my cast, I hear his voice and tune it more. It’s a great day. Because I keep thinking at any moment that newspaper is going to drop at my feet and I have to tuck it under my arm and relearn fly casting his way. I caught a couple small bluefish on ugly casts, but it wasn’t about the fish.

Meanwhile, down the beach ...

The Ronco is steadily making this funny noise when it is cast — the slow grind of the mechanics as the spoon is retrieved. It sounds like an angry Zebco. A small bluefish smashes the spoon. Andrew easily horses in that blue with the Ronco Pocket Fisherman. People walking by are giving him this look of what in the world is this guy doing? A not so seasoned angler would call him a Googan. A seasoned angler would ask for a turn. We are having way too much fun fishing with a Ronco on the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, and catching fish. Andrew rigs it up with a DS Custom Tackle top and bottom rig and a one-ounce Sputnik Sinker. He sits down and just holds the rod, waiting for a bite. Now we need to have a rod holder made for the Ronco. Actively not-a-care-in-the-world fishing.

As I walk back to the truck to grab a small rod with a spoon for smacking blues, I can hear the old Ronco ad from TV in my head. I’m on the couch at Pop’s house in the basement by the roaring fire. The newspaper I had to tuck under my arm all summer to learn to fly cast was used to start the fire. That fly rod, passed down to me, is hanging on the wall. It was never about the fish, and it was an excellent day.

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