Getting hooked: Help kids experience fishing as way of life

One of the best parts of my job is helping people fish or guiding them so to speak.

My favorite is to see the kids out catching. School has been out for a while now and a lot of kids are hitting the water.

These days to see kids enjoying the outdoors is a rarity thanks to video games. I know a lot of parents that make the kids get outside and take the phones away for the day. Great idea, they get to see and enjoy the outdoors up close and personal.

The hardest part of getting kids fishing is the fact that if they aren’t catching, then they get bored. You have to get them to understand that fishing is a way of life, a way to relax and enjoy the outdoors.

That can be really difficult when the bite is slow or not happening at all. That, in and of itself, is a good lesson for them, learning that you don’t always reap the rewards from a day of fishing.

Also that the main reward is being outdoors with friends and family having a good time.

Dennis Collett’s granddaughter, Tori, shows off a kingfish she caught on her first cast in the surf. “Four on the day,” said Dennis. “One happy person. Hooked for life and now I have a great fishing buddy.” (Submitted photo)

Catching is a bonus.

This past week a lot of kids were fishing the bays, piers, and surf with family and they reaped the rewards of putting in the time. A lot of first time catches occurred that hooked these kids for life.

I spent hours one day on the dock at the lake with my nieces and nephews baiting hooks and releasing fish. I felt like I was on a head boat.

Every 10 seconds, it was bait a hook or remove a fish. The kids were catching bluegills which are easy peasy to catch but they had a blast and don’t care what they are catching.

Just the act of yanking in fish all day kept them excited and interested.

So if you want to take the kids out for a day of catching yo have to go to good spots that produce fish.

Bluegills are certainly easy to catch and the kids have a blast. The Cape Henlopen pier is a good spot during high tide for smaller fish that hit regularly such as small sea bass, spike trout, and short striped bass.

Early arrivals

So what has been happening in our area waters? Full summer fishing is in swing and we have some early arrivals.

The water temperatures despite the heat are holding nicely.

Inland bays at Masseys Landing is bouncing between 68 and 79 degrees between tides. The Delaware Bay is in the low 70s in Lewes and Cape May.

In the upper bay the mid-70s and near Delaware city it is in the lower 80s. So the surf temperatures are in the lower 70s.

Triggerfish are all over the place — the Indian River Inlet, Masseys Landing, the walls and wreck sites, the surf in Fenwick Island State Park and the Cape Henlopen fishing pier.

Dave Bebee said they are seeing a lot of trigger being caught and one was even put in the aquarium at the nature center in the park.

“We see a few triggers every year, but nothing like we have seen recently,” said Bebee. “They are around the pier poles and the old structure left from the old pier.”

The croaker and spot catches at the pier are random and slow. Seems that fishing has been getting worse and worse each year. Many think it has to do with the gator bluefish we are seeing each year now.

We haven’t seen any decent croaker action in a couple of years and the same goes for spot. Triggers are hitting small hooks with clam, or bloodworms.

Spadefish are being caught on wrecks while trigger fishing

Kingfish in surf

The surf is seeing mostly kingfish and small weakfish. Some really small flounder here and there and an occasional keeper flattie.

Of course there are skates, rays and dogfish. Lot of sharks being caught and taken out of the water. Keep the prohibited species in the water, that is a good way to harm the shark and get in trouble.

Weakfish or trout are being caught around the Indian River Inlet, nice sized trout, not just the little spikes. There are a lot of spikes in the surf, but the inlet and Broadkill River have produced some nice sized trout.

Speckled trout are being caught near the outer wall on occasion as well. Pink zooms on two-ounce jig heads work great for trout.

Many have caught them on minnows drifting for flounder in the Lewes canal and Broadkill river. Good to see some nice sized trout coming back to the area, hopefully that will continue.

Flounder fishing has been hit or miss for many anglers. The inland bays are not producing very well.

The offshore action is decent and the Delaware Bay structure. The Cape Henlopen fishing pier is seeing more and more action but mostly small flounder. The Lewes canal still has some decent action. The largest flounder we have seen was around eight pounds.

Slot striped bass fishing around the Cape Henlopen pier has been decent and the Lewes Canal and Broadkill river. Keep in mind you can’t keep them past the bridge in the canal. You can use bloodworms, sand fleas, or minnows.

Top water action is fun around structure or grass banks. Schooling striped bass will sit along a grass bank on an outgoing tide and feed on the baitfish that are coming out of the grass from the lower water. small swim shads or bucktails are great to use along these areas as well as top water.

Decent yellowfin bite offshore, and some have gotten into the big eyes. There have been a few good shark catches as close as A buoy.

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

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