Unpredictable catches, but lots of enjoyable fishing

By Rich King
Posted 6/23/22

Kingfish action has been on fire surf fishing, and then drops off and picks back up. Migratory fish and summer fish are all in the same waters, but expect the migratory fish action to drop off very …

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Unpredictable catches, but lots of enjoyable fishing


Kingfish action has been on fire surf fishing, and then drops off and picks back up. Migratory fish and summer fish are all in the same waters, but expect the migratory fish action to drop off very soon, or not.  The weather is just weird this year. 

But it makes for fun spring/summer fishing. Mostly because you never know what you will catch, along with what you are targeting. The kingfish bite in the surf has been fantastic. I hit six spots in three hours and caught over 40 kings Wednesday morning. Didn’t matter where I fished, the action didn’t change, and it was really overcast. The next morning was clear weather, the action was a little slower but still great. Fishbites Sand Flea formula worked the best, casting to the “fish highway,” the other Route 1. Catching tacos for days.

I save all the fish carcasses for the crab pots or gardens, mostly the gardens for fertilizer. The fresh kingfish heads make great bait for red drum and big dogfish. There has been some red drum action at Assateague last week - haven’t seen much since.

The surf has been decent action for most anglers. You just have to actually fish and put in some time. We don’t always catch. That is part of the surf fishing game. The weekday surf fishing is much better than the weekends. I saw zero vehicles on Wednesday from 5 to 9 in the morning. The two trucks on Thursday were a maintenance vehicle to refuel the bulldozer working the dune sand at the north beach. The other was a ranger vehicle or park staff.

That maintenance truck loaded with fuel and side-mount tool boxes was really heavy. They drove all the way down Coin Beach to the Charles W Cullen Bridge with zero issues, in seriously loose semi-wet sand. Air down and you can drive almost anything on the beach.

Spot, croaker, sand perch, northern puffers and weakfish are also in the surf. Top and bottom rigs with Fishbites, bloodworms or sand fleas have been the best baits.

Bloodworms have been tough to get but are available. Once the bloodworms are gone, it is a week until shops see any more. Stock up on the different Fishbite formulas: bloodworm, shrimp, sand flea, clam and crab. Bloodworm comes in quarter- and three-eight inch wide strips. All of these formulas work here and there are color varieties of each formula. I like the electric chicken crab. Shrimp make great bait, too. You should salt the shrimp so it stays on a hook better.

Small pieces of squid or cut bait works well but attracts more of your scavengers, such as skates, juvenile sharks and dogfish, which will wreak havoc on your lighter rigs, tearing up the line and parts.

The bluefish action has been random for the gator blues, anglers are catching more of the smaller snappers. Mullet has been the bait of choice and modified mullet rigs to save on bait usage.

Spanish mackerel are starting to show up. That is some fun action. Use metals and reel faster than normal. Silver stingers or Deadly Dicks work very well. Spoons won’t because they will “propeller” with a fast retrieve.

Migratory striped bass action is still occurring, but that will drop off to nothing soon. The short striped bass action will continue all year. I am looking forward to striped bass summer slot season in July.

The flounder action has been picking up more and more offshore. The buoy areas, wrecks and reef sites have decent flounder. Jigging for flounder in the surf is producing and the Cape Henlopen fishing pier is seeing the usual action.

The water along the beaches is very clear blue-green, especially south of Rehoboth Beach. You can see fish in waves occasionally, a picture I keep trying to catch.

The flounder are in close, feeding on fleas. Put a large flea on a 2/0 flounder hook with a fish finder and short cast it along the “ledge” behind the last breaking wave. A single drop flounder or fluke rig is a good setup to use. You have to hold onto that rod to feel the bottom and reset your line constantly. It is like jigging, but you’re using bait instead and letting the water do the work.

Black drum are still hitting in the surf and the coral beds around the Delaware Bay. They are still being caught south of us in Chincoteague.

Clam is the best bait for boat fishing, sand fleas with sand flea Fishbites works well surf fishing. The clam will work surf fishing, but casting clam is tough. It has to be tied on with the stretch string, which is like tying snotty Jell-O to a stick. The clam will attract striped bass in the surf, too, and many a scavenger. It is easier to use clam in the boats because you are just dropping the bait, not casting. Not to mention the obvious, clam and crab is what the drum are out there eating. Peeler crab also works great if you can find it - usually Bucks at Assateague is loaded with peeler crabs. Icehouse has them on occasion as well.

Sharks are here and several species have been caught or seen. Know your shark fishing rules for Delaware. If you can’t Identify the shark, release it immediately. It is pretty much a given you have to release any shark caught from the surf in Delaware. Most of the sharks caught land-based fishing are the prohibited species; sand bar, dusky and sand tiger. The Delaware Bay area is their pupping grounds, so they are very common catches. You don’t need to kayak baits to catch a shark, we have caught some big sand tigers, just casting out a whole bunker. The big fish come close to shore in the evening and at night, hunting.

Some new arrivals for the summer fishy, with sharks there are remoras - always a freaky catch at the beach for the kids to see.  One kid called them a shark sucker and now that name has stuck with us. Speaking of made-up cool names, one child last week called waves water mountains and we are calling them that now. He said the ship disappeared behind that water mountain. Kids come up with the coolest names for things they see in nature.  

Pro tip, this summer: If the kids are catching sand fleas, make sure you don't bait up a hook with any they named like pets. I'm still hearing about that one time. A buddy's kid showed me a sand flea, and I thought he was handing it to me. To this horrified look on his face, I jammed that puppy on a hook and sent it out. Just make sure they know it is bait you are having them dig, not Sandy the sand flea. So now I'm the flea killer.   

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