From spring bluefish madness to melee of summer fish

Ticen Willey of Milton with his 34-inch striped bass caught in the surf at Herring Point on a bunker head. Submitted photos

Summer is in full swing! The weekends have been crowded but if you know how to fish the crowds you can do well. The easiest and best time is to fish when everyone else is still asleep. Predawn hours or after dark into predawn hours is a great time to look for striped bass in the surf, big ones.

I don’t care what the tides are doing, when that sun cracks the sky, most of the fish start feeding. When you wake up in the morning you are hungry, plain and simple. The tides certainly affect fishing, but I have noticed in the surf, when the sky starts to stir nature, she feeds. A great cue are those morning, loud annoying marsh birds.

When that fishing dies off in the morning is about the same time the beaches fill up with people at the drive on. That is when we leave and go look for other places to fish, crab, or clam away from the crowds. Grab the kayaks and hit the out of the way creeks, coves, back bays, and ponds. We go where the boats can’t. It makes for a fun day on the water.

When evening is about to roll back around we will head back to the beach. Once the majority of the crowds leave to go stand in line for dinner. We hit the beach, break out the grills or open the subs we brought and fish into dark, even the following morning.
The drive on beaches are pretty much cleared out by 7 p.m. in the summer.

The fishing has been changing up from the spring madness of the bluefish to a melee of summer fish. Kingfish, burrfish, sand perch, and northern puffers have been a frequent catch in the surf now that the blues have calmed down. Spot and croaker just showed up over last weekend. Anglers have been doing well using squid, fishbites, bloodworms, calm, and sad fleas. Top and bottom rigs. We use DS Custom Tackle rigs, they are made with Owner hooks, a very sharp long lasting hook. Locally made by anglers for anglers, ask for them by name at your local shops.

Dillon Walker with a burrfish he caught in the surf on Sunday. The burrfish are big this year.

Don’t buy cheap gear, it is all made in China with the cheapest components, the last thing you want on a rig is a cheap hook. Once these cheaper hooks get wet they get a tiny rust spot and hooks start snapping. They are not made to last, they are one and done rigs.

Bluefish still around

Don’t panic, there are still some bluefish around. They have been showing up in the surf randomly. For the most part they are along the Delaware Bay beaches, in Canary Creek and Broadkill River. They will push out of the river once the temperatures increase. This mild spring has really kept the water temperatures at premium levels for better fishing.

Mullet rigs are working great for blues when they are around. The Modified Mullet Rig by DS Custom Tackle is saving anglers bait and catching more fish.

The drum action has died at the beaches but is still OK out in the Delaware Bay on the coral beds. The Lewes charters have been seeing some action. Many are switching over to flounder fishing.

Spot and croaker have just shown up at the Cape Henlopen fishing poer the plast few days. The surf around Lewes is seeing a little hardhead action, they are small but still a catch.

Weakfish catches are increasing and up to 5-pound fish are being caught. There are schools of weakies around the Delaware Bay and the bay beaches. They are running the tides, and when there is an on-shore blow anglers are finding them close to shore in the surf. I sure do miss eating trout. Maybe we are seeing a comeback for weakfish. This may be due to the striped bass numbers being down, trout these days tend to be food for the bass.

DSF’s Summer Surf Fishing Series Slam saw a lot of kingfish last weekend. Fishbites and bloodworms was the ticket for bait. The kingfish are either really large like this fella or around 6 to 7 inches.

We are still seeing some decent striped bass action, though random and not as plentiful as the past weeks. The shirt bass action is always fun around the waterways, just fish rips on moving tides with small swim shads or bucktails. Keeper striped bass are random and even a surprise for some anglers.

Last Friday while everyone was sitting in rush hour beach traffic, Jeff Purdy took his kids and their friends to the beach. He had them all rigged up for a shark in the surf at Cape Henlopen near Herring Point.

“I was hoping to get them on a shark, we had a bunker head out. Instead of a shark, Ticen Willey of Milton DE, caught this 34-inch striped bass. He is thrilled; it is his biggest fish yet he has ever caught.”

First white marlin

The first white marlin for Delaware was landed last Sunday by Taylor Deemer.

“I was on the ‘Rock On’ out of Indian River Marina, Tim Tribbit was the captain and Tyler Tribbit was the leader man. Fish was caught in 68-degree water in 100 fathoms in the Baltimore. The fish ate a ballyhoo skirted with a 8-oz white Joe Shute. We also were 4 for 5 on yellowfins in the same area.“

Offshore action is picking up for yellowfin tuna. and anglers have been going out a lot the past week. Some are successful and others not, the nature of fishing. Black sea bass action has been excellent for the charters and head boats.

The first white marlin for Delaware was landed last Sunday by Taylor Deemer on the “Rock On” out of Indian River Marina. Tim Tribbit was the captain and Tyler Tribbit was the leader man.

Flounder fishing is better all around the area, but everyone has been favoring the Lewes canal. The inland bay action is picking up and the Cape Henlopen fishing pier is seeing some decent action with a few bigger sized keepers. Flounder have been averaging around 18 inches for the most part.

Crabbing is much better. Pot Nets residents are already complaining about stolen crabs, that is usually a good signal the crabbing has picked up.

Most of us wait until the crabs shed out a couple of times to get away from the “mud”. After the crabs emerge from their winter rest, they are full of mud. We like them to get cleaned out a little before eating.

I also clean my crabs before I steam or cook them. I don’t like the mustard, yeah I know that isn’t popular but I know what is in the mustard and I am not eating it. I steam them but I also will pan sear a few in butter and white wine with garlic and all kinds of combinations. The crab meat tastes just as good but I like to play with flavors. Putting cleaned crabs in spaghetti gravy is the bomb!
Have a great weekend.

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

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