The cooler nights are a great break from the summer heat. Hoodie in the morning, T-shirt by mid-day and back in the hoodie for the evening. Shoes are still optional. Yup, autumn is here, but we still have warm enough water for the summer fish. The fall fish are starting up, as well. This is the fun fishing time of year we all wait for and talk about on the daily. What will happen?
Last year, we had a two-plus week red drum run in Delaware that is usually a one day, one and done. What will happen this year? Those ladies are already around Assateague. More of the tropical fish are just starting to show up in larger numbers but for how long? They are late this year, but show up earlier each year so we got spoiled.
The best surf fishing for drum is night into predawn — time to lose more sleep and call in late for work. I mean, there is going to be a lot of flat tires for the next several weeks, just saying to all the bosses, managers and owners. As an owner, I will be lying to myself as well, it is expected this time of year.
We have to work today! ... But do we really?
Homeowners, a little advice: This is literally the worst time of year to hire any outdoorsman for any longtime outdoorsy projects. If we aren’t hunting, we are fishing some sort of run. Call back in February.
Offshore fishing has been good. Check the head boats and charters. The weekends are not as crowded but there are more fishing now than summer. Because you can actually fish now on all the beaches and waterways.
Check to see what the boats are targeting. There is a lot of choices right now. It looks like a lot of the boats are doing well. Having options helps increase catching.
I’m not sure how long bloodworms will still be available. I keep hearing a lot of different things. One of the issues has been allowing the diggers to collect in winter. It is killing off the fauna that supports the marsh mud ecosystems where these worms live and thrive. The constant collection is depleting the populations. There are also loss of access issues for collection. Maine and other places are looking at shutting it down for a while are the rumors. It’s time to learn how to fish without bloodworms. Fishbites fast-acting bloodworms work pretty good in colder water. It would be nice to see a cold-water grass shrimp formula. There is a bristle worm in the mud of all the bays and marsh creeks of Delaware. They make decent bait.
Catching grass shrimp is easy. Shops don’t carry them because collection in large amounts is tough. Dan at Dan’s Tackle Box said, “We used to collect and carry them, but the usual places dried up for collection.” Collecting enough for the day for an angler is easy. Scrape bulkheads and grass banks with a fine mesh net.
Catching fiddler crabs is easy, too. Get a plastic coffee container with a hole in the lid and bury it in the marsh mud a little over the height of the container near where there are fiddler crabs. You can bait the container but it isn’t necessary. The fiddler crabs will crawl in and can’t get out. They make killer flounder and striped bass bait.
Learn how to catch using lures more than bait. That is always an option and for many it is more of the sport in the catch. You’re trying to trick a fish into hitting an artificial lure, that you are trying to present as a live critter. There is a certain skill in that kind of fishing. I enjoy it. My grandfather would tell us as kids, “You can’t kill something to catch for fun, even a worm. Learn to fish with lures.” That was when we learned a Mepps can catch almost anything. I also learned fly fishing that year and finally acquired some new rods for this fall schooling striped bass action. I’m looking forward to waving the long wand around for a change.
Mullet are moving around everywhere and that helps. There are tons of silversides in all the waterways, turning waves brown along the beaches and washing up on shore. Collect them for bait, too. A small spinner blade wire casting rig works great for the larger silversides. It’s like a tiny mullet rig without the float. Putting them on a hook is nearly impossible — this rig allows you to run a wire through the silverside and put a double hook at the back of the fish.
The Spanish mackerel action has been fun on silver spoons around the inlets and the surf. Look for schools breaking water — keep a spoon at the ready. The albies should be around, too, by now and another fun torpedo to catch. Metals or spoons are best for all of these fish. Decent bluefish action, the smaller summer blues up to some nice choppers in the 24-inch range.
Short striped bass will start schooling up and feeding more. Get your gear ready for fall if you haven’t already. Hit up your local shops for new line. There’s nothing like a freshly spooled reel on the first hundred casts.
There is a decent variety of fish out there right now. Get out and target everything, you just never know. That is half the game — actually fishing and paying attention. The other half is realizing we don’t do this for food but for peace of mind. If we were fishing strictly for food, we would starve.