Bluefish action is picking up at Cape Henlopen fishing pier and beaches

Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier at low tide, you can see all the structure where the bait fish congregate. This is where you want to fish. You should always fish the pier structure. Submitted photos

One of the best parts about fish showing up late is you get to fish for them a little longer or so it seems. At least the rain is not as bad and we have Memorial Day weekend coming.

OK, honestly I have no idea how the weather is in Delaware — I am in Florida. It is hot and it rains every day for about 10 minutes, I hear you all are dealing with the exact opposite. The official start of the summer season is upon us even down here.

The bluefish action has picked up at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier and the beaches. Anglers are limiting out when the blues blitz the pier and the flats. The Oceanic pier in Ocean City is seeing some good action. Spoons, poppers, plugs, or bait. They are hitting everything now that the water temperatures have increased. Mullet rigs are working great in the surf. You can see bluefish tailing in the flats at the pier and around the inland bays.

Flounder improving

Flounder is getting better and better in the Lewes canal, Roosevelt Inlet, inland bays, and surrounding waterways. Minnows are best to drift or use gulp. I prefer to use a single hook rig, no sense in feeding the fish twice. Your bait supply will last longer as well. Gulp is easy to double up with top and bottom rigs, but again I prefer a single drop loop rig and a two ounce bank sinker.

Most people miss flounder because they drift too fast in their boats. Slow down and you will catch more fish. Flounder will chase bait, but they prefer to lie in wait for a good meal.

The Cape Henlopen fishing pier is a great place to catch flounder. Especially if you know where to fish, not just when. Go to the pier on a dead low tide day and walk under the pier and look at the structure. The old pier poles have holes in them and sections missing. These areas hold bait fish when the tide is up. This is where you want to fish for flounder and other predators. They hunt around the poles or structure looking for food. The bait fish get into these holes and cutouts and can’t really escape. It is like a buffet for a flounder.

Striped bass action

Migratory striped bass action has increased in the Delaware Bay beaches and ocean beaches. The Indian RIver Inlet has seen some great action. Clam has been the preferred bait but sand fleas will work just as well. Same goes for the black drum fishing which has picked up hot and heavy in the Delaware Bay and beaches. Broadkill Beach has seen some great action on clam or sand fleas.

Night time is the right time not only for drum fishing at the coral beds in the Delaware Bay, but also along the beaches for striped bass. If you want to catch big striped bass on poppers you have to start fishing the night shift. The calmer the seas the easier it is to entice a bass to hit a popper, make a lot of noise and the fish will come. Make the right noise and you will catch some seriously big fish. I don’t know why more people don’t fish this way — it is the best catching you can get for striped bass. I am talking about the 40- to 50-pound class bass.

The big fish come closer to shore at night to feed. They do not like the bright water during the day, their eyes are so sensitive they can practically see in the dark. You can drive on and fish at night so long as you are actively fishing. I prefer to park and walk at night, it is easier to get around. DO NOT shine your light on the water. That is the easiest way to scare off any fish.

Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day

Lionfish ready for the weigh-in at the Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day.

So why am I writing about this while in Florida? Well, a deadline is a deadline, but I am down here actually working helping Coast Watch Alliance with LRAD. The Lionfish Removal and Awareness Day which was held this year at the Flora-Bama in Perdido Key. I am helping my friends run the event and I get to take a boat ride or two to go watch them collect lionfish. An invasive species that is devastating the fish populations and indirectly damaging the reefs in the Gulf, Caribbean and west coast of Florida.

How do you collect lionfish? Brian Asher .. “Pretty simple really, we go out and get them with spears. Stabbing them in the face is the best way to kill them and collect them without messing up their meat.”

Because lionfish is delicious … despite the urban myth it is poisonous. They are venomous, but harmless to eat, the venom does not get into the meat. However you definitely don’t want to mess with the pointy end of their fins.

The mission of Coast Watch Alliance is eradication of lionfish in the Gulf. Commercialization is one way, if you make a fish a popular food product people want it and that fish gets nearly wiped out from over fishing. This is why we have fishing limits for commercial ventures. There are no limits on lionfish. A single diver can pull several hundred lionfish a day. Some of these reef structures have a couple of hundred fish on them.

Lionfish on a wreck … photo by Alex Fogg, chief fish monger, lionfish slugger, and all-around a great sport.

By using the model opposite of commercial fishing, it is hoped that the fish can be controlled and reduced immensely. Time will tell. If you want to know more about this invasive species, check out www.coastwatchalliance.org. As they say down here, you got to eat them to beat them, or save reef eat a lionfish.

Have a safe holiday weekend, slow down your driving, you will get where you are going. Don’t forget to take a moment to remember why we celebrate Memorial Day. It is not about barbecues, beer, and beaches. It is about honoring those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom … Thank You!

Rich King’s outdoors column runs Thursdays in the Delaware State News.

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