Hinkle in spotlight with 2nd White Marlin Open victory

Fish Whistle crew with the winning White Marlin for this year’s White Marlin Open. Submitted photos

August has been decent weather so far, not too hot, some cool nights. Makes for better fishing conditions. The waters are holding temperatures. We had an upwelling last week that cooled the water off along the coast. Nice to see an August that doesn’t produce bathtub water conditions in the back bays and creeks.

History was made when Tom Hinkle set a new record by winning the White Marlin Open for the second time. The marlin he and the Fish Whistle crew brought to the scales weighed 79.5 pounds and held. He won in 2008 with an 81-pound white marlin.

The scales were exciting to watch the last day. Boats were coming in one after another and lined up outside of the marina. Every time a white marlin would come to the scales that could be a contender, the crowd would turn to Tom. He was intensely paying attention to the scales. His first place marlin at $1.46 million was on the line and it was the last couple hours.

One of the last boats to come to the scales had a good sized marlin, and it would be the last one of the night. The marlin wasn’t close enough, and Tom’s sigh could be heard around the scales. There had already been a few place changes, you never know. When 10 p.m. came the scales were closed and Tom Hinkle made history.

Catches better

The fishing is the usual summer fishing, but this year the catches have been better and more frequent. The pompano are much bigger and delicious to eat. It is weird to tell people you can target pompano in the surf in Delaware, but you can. The spot bite at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier has been excellent, and in the surf. Those fish were the most scored during the DSF’s Summer Surf Fishing Slam Series 7 last weekend. Ten spot can put about 80 points on the board.

Fishbites have been hard to come by but stores are starting to get more. The company had a huge run on their product and weren’t expecting the fishing to be so good this year. Bloodworms are in shops but they go fast, especially with the lack of Fishbites. You can dig for sand fleas in surf. Shrimp is a good bait and if you get skunked you can eat what you don’t use. Free bait is even better and the waterways are loaded with them.

Stephen Paris with a Mahi.

Mullet in the back bays are being caught with cast nets. Fresh mullet are showing up in shops now. Use a DS Custom Tackle Modified Mullet rig to catch more fish and use less bait. The hook up to feeding fish ratio is much better with those rigs.

There is a lot of peanut bunker being pushed up close to the shore, and washing up on the beach. They are also easy to cast net or snag. No idea what is pushing them in so close. Dolphin, skate, shark, flounder, cobia, bluefish, or Spanish mackerel. It could be everything out there is pushing the bunker. They could even be just crowding themselves onto the beach, just from sheer number. That happens too, school of fish get spooked and just move to shallow water so fast the inner edge gets pushed onto the beach. Free Bunker!

You can use peanut bunker for bait. Many anglers will remove the guts of peanut bunker to get rid of an organ that puts off a signal that warns schooling fish of predators. Over the years anglers noticed when you gutted the peanut bunker, they had more hookups. It is a valid theory. In the bio lab back in college we would pour water from the shark tank into the feeder fish tank. All of the fish would jump out of the opposite end of the tank at once. We may or may not have initiated new lab techs by showing them this neat trick to feed the sharks.

Flounder fishing is good one day and not so much the next. Charters and head boats are doing well in the Delaware Bay and offshore wrecks and reefs. There is a great croaker bite in the Delaware Bay and the Indian River Inlet. Bluefish has been great along the beaches and at the inlet at night and on incoming tides.

Barracuda caught off the coast of Delaware by John Whalen.

Crabbing has been excellent all over the waters, from hand lines to pots to trot lining or rings. The crabs are plentiful this year. Clamming is good as well, just make sure you are in areas that allow clamming.

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

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