Fish aren’t as dumb as you think: the less commotion the better

DJ Sokira caught some kingfish over the holiday weekend. Submitted photos

Well that is another Memorial Day weekend in the books, and it was eventful. Every holiday weekend is eventful but the first one always makes for some chaos.

This was probably one of the busiest Memorial Day weekends we have ever seen in Sussex County, the beaches were packed, the parks were closing early full to capacity, This happens every holiday weekend and comes to no surprise to us that live here. Many were not prepared for a very crowded weekend. You have to plan your day or you spend most of it in traffic trying to get somewhere. Leave early and stay late, pack what you need for a long day, or stay home.

The fishing was OK for the weekend but dropped off dramatically in most cases. Why? There was an extra metric ton of people on the water and beaches. These fish aren’t as dumb as people think, so when there is a lot more commotion than usual the fish will scatter. Boat after boat rolling through Masseys Ditch all day long and around the inland bays. The beaches are wall to wall vehicles by 10 a.m. The fish will move away from the commotion. How do you fish these man-made conditions? You fish where everyone else isn’t and early or late enough when there is hardly anyone around. The less commotion the better.

You hit the beaches before the sun comes up, fish until the trucks fill up the beaches or the fish turn off. Then you hit the inland bays for some crabbing or out of the way fishing. Maybe do some pond hopping for a bit. Then once the evening gets going you can head back to the beach for some evening into night fishing. Most of the people are gone by then trying to get into a restaurant. Fishing holiday weekends is tough. The only other option is stay home, mow the grass, or work on the property and fish the weekdays

Bluefish caught by Tim Kirschner on DS Custom Tackle Modified Mullet rig.

Kingfish plentiful

Bluefish are still around, that is the big gators but they have been far and few between catches. That is making it easier to catch the smaller fish like puffers, kingfish, etc., on top and bottom rigs in the surf. The blues will destroy those rigs, easier to use them when less are around. There are still the smaller snapper blues here and hopefully they stick around for the summer but we will see.

Kingfish have been plentiful in the surf on bloodworms or fishbites. Squid is starting to work well for fish too, but the skates and dogfish love that bait. There have been a bunch of sea robins caught in the surf. They make great flounder bait and are actually good to eat as well.

You would be surprised how many “trash” fish never make it to the table. Skate is now being sold in stores more and more each year. Some of the trash fish or less desirable to catch are actually great to eat. Oyster crackers are really good.

Burrfish caught by Rob Lyons surf fishing over Memorial Day Weekend.

Free fishing

This weekend is free fishing offered by DNREC’s fish and wildlife. You can fish for free all weekend, you just need a FIN number.
DNREC … “In celebration of National Fishing and Boating Week, DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife invites anglers to fish, crab, and clam in Delaware waters by taking advantage of free fishing days Saturday and Sunday, June 1 and 2, when no fishing license is required for resident or non-resident anglers. The Fisherman Identification Network (F.I.N.) number is available online at or by calling 800-432-9228. Anglers also are required to comply with Delaware’s fishing regulations, including size and daily catch limits.”

Decent flounder action

Flounder action has been decent in the Lewes canal and surrounding waters. There has been more action around the inland bays. Pink gulp, minnows or silversides have been the best baits. The Cape Henlopen fishing pier has some decent flounder action. You can fish the cuts at the beaches and jig for flounder, look for them in the flats at Cape Henlopen by the pier, the flats in Delaware Seashore State Park at New or Tower roads, Holts Landing fishing pier, Roosevelt Inlet, Lewes Beach, Broadkill Beach, Beach Plum Island State Park, Canary Creek, Broadkill River, and Lewes canal.

Speaking of the inland bays, you need to be careful boating around Masseys Ditch and Bakers Channel. That channel is shoaling in and at low tide has about 18 inches of water. Boats were getting stuck all weekend.

Sea Robin caught in the surf, these make good table fare or flounder bait. Eat the trash fish, you would be surprised how good they taste.

Striped bass action has slowed down but there are still some random migratory keepers around. Short bass action has been decent and a given in most areas. Woodland Beach has a decent amount of white perch around the pier and a ton of bugs.

The summer weekends are upon us, just be safe and smart when on the water. Fish where other people aren’t, you would be surprised what you might run into. Also fish when everyone else isn’t, night time is the right time, also known as creepin while your sleepin.

Storm shot over the Delaware Bay on Sunday night by Kyle Kaminski.

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

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