Bluefish off the hook; whales putting on show

I think October is the new September.

The weather has been phenomenal for this time of year. Last year it was colder with a lot more heavy storms.

We have the Chillaware Surf Fishing tournament coming up on Saturday. There is still time to sign up but not much. The weather is looking on point.

The water in the surf is very clean, so clear the whales are coming in close to shore to feed. From Rehoboth to Delaware Seashore State park, beach goers have been treated to a whale of a show. They are surrounded by dolphins feeding on the scraps and disoriented bait fish.

Fishing has been off the hook for tiny bluefish, the 8- to 10- inch bait stealers. We had to lower the qualifying size in the tournament just so people can score some fish.

We also added pompano and albies to the list. The pompano have been here for a while and the frequency of those catches has increased. The albies or false albacore just showed up about a week or so ago, and that has been some fun action from the beach if you can get into them. They were in the flats at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier chasing mullet schools a few days ago.

Catching one is a chore form shore. You have to use metals such as deadly dicks, hopkins, or silver stingers. Reel them as fast a you can or until your wrist is on fire and then reel faster. When the albies hit be prepared for a long fight, they will peel line off your reel like no tomorrow. Mostly they have been caught near the Indian River Inlet and the surrounding beaches. They are not only feeding on mullet but those bluefish as well.

The little blues are hitting everything you throw out there. You could probably use a blank hook with a small bead and hook up on them. There have been some caught in the 16-inch range, but very few.

Short striped bass are schooled up around the bays and tidal creeks. Once you get into them it is some fun action. For the most part they are averaging 24-26 inches. There has been the occasional keeper up to 30 inches caught.

These are all resident fish, don’t get excited for migratory fish just yet. The rockfish are hitting swim shads, bucktails, bombers, rattle traps and spoons. The only issue are the bluefish are in many of the same areas. If the soft plastics start taking a beating, switch up to the metals.

Tautog season has been going well for anglers hitting the Delaware Bay structure, with a lot of sheepshead and some trigger in the mix. Sand fleas are still the most popular bait since you can dig for them in the surf still. Green crabs are being sold as well as Asian box crabs. The throw back tautog have been numerous and just a smidge below keeper size. That will drive an angler a little nuts, especially if it has been a slow day.

Lizard fish are being caught as by catch around the bays, and surf. They are long and have some teeth. Not much too look at or for the table, but they will add a species to your life list. On light gear they can be fun to catch. Not something anglers target they are usually caught when going for other fish, or just fishing in general.

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

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