Happy Fourth: Having a grand time fishing at the beach

Logan Fulton with a flounder caught on his dad’s boat at site 10 with a DS Custom Tackle Flounder rig and Gulp. Submitted photos

Happy Fourth of July. Have a safe holiday week. It has been a blast so far. We are catching fish and having a grand time at the beach. The flies are having a lot of fun as well on those west wind days. If the wind direction has a ‘W’ in it be prepared. This time of the year when it gets really hot with a west wind, we see a lot more flies.

Fishing has been decent if you are putting in the time. There is a good variety of options to get out and catch. Offshore action has been great for the boats hooking up. Some days not so much and others it is on fire. Best charters to hire are people that go out daily and fish. Tilefish has been decent action as well near the canyons.

Wreck and reef anglers are catching a nice mixed bag of flounder, bluefish, weakfish, croakers, kingfish, and triggers. There are triggers showing up now at the walls in the Delaware Bay and the Indian River Inlet walls. Sand fleas or clam and small hooks are the best baits for trigger. Spear anglers are getting drum and striped bass at the Indian River Inlet. That is one hairy place to free dive to shoot a fish.

Flounder has been good offshore but again slow one day and good the next. I mean it is called fishing for a reason. Cut strip baits work better offshore than minnows and gulp but angers are using both. Minnows and gulp are working better inshore, the Cape Henlopen fishing pier, and the canal but there are many a throwback to get a keeper. NOAA just made it official, if you catch a 16.5-inch flounder in federal waters you can transport it back to Delaware or Maryland ports if you left from there.

Spot has been the hot bite at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier. Anglers are filling up coolers and the action is best on the incoming tide. Real bloodworms or fishbites are working the best for bait. The flounder action there is happening, but slow for keepers. Lot of the usual smaller fish are also being caught. We are hoping to see trigger show up along the pilings again this year. The pier is a great place to take the kids fishing for the day. The crabbing has been good but many a sponge crab at the pier.

Lucas Gaberlein caught his first kingfish in the surf the other day.

Pond hopping

Pond hopping has been fun in the evenings and early mornings. I prefer the mornings since it is much cooler than the evening. Top water action is picking up and you just need to check the pool filter to see what is out there to mimic. Big beetles, grasshoppers, you name it, the top water bugs are out and about. Match the hatch so to speak for the best results. Just look outside on the side of the house after the lights have been on for an hour or two to see what is flying around and falling into ponds.

Cobia fishing at the Bay Bridge has been good for sight fishing for many anglers. A couple of friends of mine rigged up a step ladder to sight fish for cobia and it paid off. I do not recommend anyone doing this, these guys are experienced and crazy. There are also spade fish around the structure of the Bay Bridge tunnel area. That place is just one giant reef to fish.

For the time of year compared to the last few, the surf has been hot for fishing. We are catching kingfish, sand perch, weakfish, short striped bass, burrfish, northern puffers, bluefish, and flounder. Fishbites and bloodworms for the smaller fish on DS Custom Tackle top and bottom rigs. Every time I take a friend fishing and they have cheap rigs I give them the DSCT rigs and they catch more fish. Cheap rods and reels are fine, don’t use cheap tackle, it doesn’t last.

Dallen Eastburn and Kevin Haldeman catching rockfish out of Rock Hall, Md.

Fish in the surf

Flounder can be jigged up along the surf’s edge and in the cuts. They are feeding on sand fleas and minnows. The fish in the surf are just behind the breaking wave at the edge of the ledge or dropoff. The picture above shows that area where the sand gets all stirred up from the wave action. This stirs up the food along the edge and the fish move in to feed. Most people cast beyond the fish in the surf. Put a line in close, one out far, and one in between. Change up baits until you find fish and gear for that area.

The sharks, rays, and skates are all hitting cut bait. If you want to avoid that action then use the top and bottom rigs with fishbites. Artificial bait will still catch the “trash” fish but using it will cut down the chances.

There are huge schools of silversides, bunker, etc., moving up and down the beaches. The bluefish schools are easy to spot. Cast a spoon towards those schools. Same with the silversides to catch bluefish or mackerel. We have seen a lot of mackerel in the surf.

In this shot of the surf from a drone, the water is washing across the ledge of the beach stirring up sand and critters that fish will feed on. This is where you look for fish. You don’t have to cast very far.

Pompano is now a staple summer fish, it seems, and they are bigger this year. Cooking one is easy. Clean out the gullet with water, slice the skin in a criss-cross pattern, add a little pepper, butter, and grill. The meat will flake right off. They are excellent table fare. Look online for other recipes.

Have a fun and safe weekend.

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

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