Nice temperatures as we reach the swing of summer fishing

Flounder from the surf caught by Kevin Golden Jr.‎ Submitted photos

Just like that we are in the swing of summer fishing. The air temperatures have been great at night to help keep the water temperatures down. We are still “spring” fishing in summer. The inland bays haven’t peaked over 74 degrees all week.

The fishing has been decent for this time of year, even the catching isn’t bad. Spot and croaker recently showed up along the beaches and the Cape Henlopen fishing pier. The spot are the perfect size for striped bass or trout (weakfish) bait. The croaker are on the small side as well but will get bigger as the summer progresses. The bite at the Cape Henlopen pier came on strong and then died back a bit due to the winds most likely.

Kingfish have been frequent in the surf using fishbites bloodworm formula or real bloodworms. Top and bottom rigs with small sharp hooks for the win. Sand perch and weakfish are also hitting those baits. The sand perch are small, and make decent bait for larger fish like flounder.

There is a lot of bait fish in the surf and sand fleas. Match the food on the surf to catch more fish. Small sand fleas are good for kingfish, sand perch, croaker, and spot. Flounder like the bigger fleas and they love those spot and sand perch.

Weakfish caught in the surf.

The spots you catch also make good bait for the larger predators such as striped bass, bluefish, and flounder. You can catch bait twice in the surf while catching fish, and fishing for bigger fish. That is a lot of fishing and possible catching options. Keep the spot and take them home for some boat fishing offshore for flounder.

Crabbing getting better

Crabbing is getting better and better. The “mud’ has cleared most of the crabs from a long winter’s nap. Now we feast. As you know, I clean my crabs. Pan searing a few in white wine with garlic stuffed in the center of the crab is an excellent dish. Grilling them with butter in the center at low heat for about a half hour makes for a different flavor.

You can even smoke crabs. We have the advantage of eating crabs so often sometimes you want to just experiment with flavors. Try some in spaghetti gravy, it is excellent. These are all done with cleaned crabs. Tell your Maryland friends, mine aren’t speaking to me for desecrating their crabs. They were delicious.

Get a surf tag soon

Delaware State Parks limited the number of surf tags available in 2019 to 17,000 tags. They have less than 2,000 left.

If you are planning on getting a tag you might want to get it now. There are only four locations that have them available. Down here in Sussex County, you can get them at the Cape Henlopen State Park office and the Indian River Life Saving Station Museum.

Flounder action has been slowing down in the canal. Anglers are catching upwards of 30 throwbacks before they manage a keeper just at the right length. The numbers of keepers are getting lower for the inland bay areas as usual. Offshore the keeper flounder action is picking up. Gulp has been the bait of choice or minnows for inshore. The Cape Henlopen fishing pier also has seen a large number of throwbacks.

Weakfish are still being caught at a decent rate. The “smaller” fish from last year are a little bigger this year and we are seeing decent catches up to 5 pounds. Once you find a school the catches are frequent until the fish move on with the tide. You can sit there or you can chase the fish and become a tide runner yourself, or chaser I should say. Good to see more weakfish back, many feel that is due to the striped bass numbers being down and that very well could be the case.

Oyster catchers are paired up and hunting the surf for food. They have nests near where they are feeding usually.

Weakies or trout became a second staple food for bass and bluefish when the bunker numbers were down. We would find a lot of trout in fish gullets we cleaned. There are other conditions and issues that contributed to the decline in weakfish. Being a food source certainly was and always will be one of those issues.

The rough seas last weekend washed several deceased marine mammals onto the beaches. Turtles and dolphins. Most were recovered and buried, a few washed back out to sea. The onshore blow will not only push fish to our shores, but also whatever is floating on the water as well. Even things bobbing along the bottom.

The heavy fog the other day caused a sailboat to run aground in Cape Henlopen State Park. Tow Boat Us Indian River pulled the sailboat Mariner off the beach and towed her to Lewes. Never go out to sea without the proper equipment, especially in a thick fog that will last all day.

Sailboat Maritime being pulled off the beach in Cape Henlopen by Tow Boat US Indian River.

Summer Surf Fishing Slam Series

The third DSF’s Summer Surf Fishing Slam Series is this weekend. The leader board for the overall has been filling up. Looking forward to see what everyone catches this Saturday; I think we are looking at a lot of kingfish.

DSF’s Summer Surf Fishing Slam Series Leader board:

DSF’s Summer Surf Fishing Series Slam stickers are now available.

Michele Trotter — 70 points

Jesse Williams — 39 points

Bill Orth — 33 points

Gary Stefan — 17 points

Ralph McBride — 16 points

Jonathan Martin — 16 points

The offshore action has been picking up for tuna, sharks, tilefish and the usual suspects. The boats just need a good weekend to get out there. Been blowing a bit the last few days.

Pond hopping has been rewarding. Catching bass, pickerel, catfish, and the usual suspects. Top water action is picking up in the evenings. I have a metric ton of grasshoppers around my house. The tree frogs are so loud this year it is deafening at night. Frogs are definitely high on the menu for fish this year.

The Reel Friends Surf Fishing club is having their last annual March of Dimes at the beach this Saturday in Cape Henlopen State Park. They will be at the Hawks Nest Pavilion. It is free to the public, bring your own drinks and maybe extra for the cooler surfers (that would be me). They will have raffles with all kinds of great donated items. This crew is made up of first responders, from fire wranglers to emergency call catchers. Come out and support them. They are the people we need the most when we are at our worst.

Chesapeake Bay anglers are catching huge catfish in areas that catfish normally aren’t caught. Must be all of that freshwater from the rain letting the cats move into other waters.

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

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