Spring fishing is the best it’s been in a while

By Rich King
Posted 5/22/24

My social media feeds are full of bluefish, and there are parts of mullet rigs all over the floor in the shop. My fingers have that groove in the two sore spots, now numb from pushing wire all day …

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Spring fishing is the best it’s been in a while


My social media feeds are full of bluefish, and there are parts of mullet rigs all over the floor in the shop. My fingers have that groove in the two sore spots, now numb from pushing wire all day through the wire bender machine. The fish have not stopped biting; they are eating the tackle. The bite is random, but it is heavy when it hits with a good-sized school. You have to fish close to shore so you don’t get bit off. These are all those bigheaded skinny spring gator bluefish. They are eating everything in their path.

Drum and striped bass are around as well. Weakfish are making an appearance in larger sizes, with plenty of spikes around, too. This spring fishing has been the best in a while. We still have to put in some work to catch, but the rewards seem to be better. I spent three solid days fishing — it was like a mini vacation.

I loaded up Friday morning and met the crew at a private Delaware Bay beach. It’s nice when you know there won’t be a crowd or an audience. We drive out and set up for the weekend. We find sand fleas, the lady crabs the size of a quarter and some larger ghost shrimp. All the hooks are baited and the crew starts fishing. I’m throwing a popping plug, and I have some spoons if this water and clouds clear up. I’m looking for bluefish, they are targeting black drum. The weekend was a blast fishing without excess “company,” totally forgetting the Memorial Day blitz is coming this weekend.

The fishing was hot to not — a great example of put in the time and be there at the right time. I think I heard every line in one trip. Just about every time I ran up to the house for food, a drink, more bait, another rod or whatever, someone would catch a fish. “You had to be there.” Then when we arrived the next day a little later than expected, “We caught a dozen a little while ago.” “You should have been here 15 minutes ago.” It was three days, from no action on day one to a massive amount of action by day four. “Man, we were gonna leave out at two, but that tide, so we cast back out and ended up dropping 15 fish in two hours.”

I should have blown off work for their last day, but I had to adult. I had a great time watching the crew fish like they love to do, putting in the time and getting it done. Part of the fun for me is watching people in the moment catching a lot of fish. It’s exciting, even if you aren’t catching at the time. Because despite all the one liners I heard all day, I can always drop the ultimate — I can fish tomorrow and try again and again, every day.

Get out and fish. I’d say they aren’t going to jump out of the water for you, but after that dolphin show pushing bluefish at Broadkill the other day, that is not a true statement. Have you ever seen a 30-plus-inch bluefish tossed like a sardine by a dolphin only 30 feet away on a beach?

Weakfish are making a nice appearance again. There are some decent-sized pounders here and there, but not the big tide runners from back in the day. These are the nice four- to five-pounders. There are plenty of the smaller 12- to 14-inch spike trout sizes along the Delaware Bay beaches.

Flounder action has been decent. The canal tournament was hit with some weather so not too many fish were landed and entered. That will keep the canal action up for a while. The inland bay action has been OK, too. It is just getting started around here as far as good action. The only issue will be the amount of boat action that is about to crank up.

Surf anglers, take notice, Navy Crossing is closed due to erosion issues. That beach should be closed to OSVs on the great dune section anyway. It is such sugary sand even the pros get stuck on occasion. It is an awesome beach to fish though, with a lot of structure in the stump area. Walking on and using that area is a little hike, but will grant some privacy, even on this busy weekend. Rent a beach cart from the pier shop and hit the sand. That shadow from the great dune is nice on the really hot days.

Bluefish is random bite action all over the beaches, canals, back bays, inland bays, Broadkill River, and as far up as Woodland Beach, I have heard tell. Use mullet on mullet rigs or cut mullet. Spoons are working well or the shiny Stingsilvers or Deadly Dick jigs.

You can set up to fish for the little fish in the surf — kingfish and northern puffers — but most likely bluefish are going to shred your gear. Until these gators bounce offshore, it’s best to set up for the bigger fish. A lot of sharks and rays are showing up now, too. Kingfish are here but good luck hooking one up with the bluefish around.

Catfish action has been fun for many folks. This crazy weather is fun. The heat was on not long ago, now the A/C is on in the shop. The ocean is cold to the toes. The water is still chilly, so wear that life vest if you are riding around in a boat. Credit card captain season is upon us — be safe on the waterways.
The pirates will invade Bowers Beach this weekend! Memorial Day weekend is always a lot of fun at the Buccaneer Bash. Take it slow and safe.

The season is upon us. We are now on fish weekday and work weekend mode until fall. See you in the suds on the off days.

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