Rat wrangling fun: Catching small short bass in the surf

Jen with an almost keeper bass from the Delaware River near Augustine Beach. (Submitted photos)

This time last year we were rat wrangling in the surf, which is catching small short bass one after another in the surf. It is fun and we coined the term one afternoon, because when we all start joking in the surf. You never know what is going to come out of our mouths.

You can use surf rods down to small bass rods for catching shorts. The smaller the rod the more fun, especially with ultralight gear. When the rats are in thick, it is a good time to learn fly fishing in the surf. Using clouser minnows are the best for the long wand.

This past weekend a few shorts were caught in the surf on the ocean beaches. That action will pick up as the days get warmer, as well as the nights. The best catches were close to structure, not surf structure such as sand bars, but real structure like the jetties. Roosevelt Inlet, Indian River Inlet, and naval jetty are always good places to fish near.

Steven Bailey caught this short striped bass at 3Rs Beach in Delaware Seashore State Park over the weekend.

There are exposed jetties in Bethany Beach now and the storm drains in Rehoboth are also good structure. The jetties at Gordons Pond are exposed a little more and are good places to try. All of the newly exposed structure is devoid of “reef” like life, but it is still structure that will hold food for predators. During the beach cleanup on Sunday I saw a few diving birds on bait near naval jetty.

Bass in inland bays

The inland bays are seeing more short striped bass action under lights, and around structure. In the shallow mud flats at low tide you can find mummichog minnows. I have seen a few crabs moving around in these areas too, but no one has done much in crab pots. Spring is here as far as the critters are concerned, but we could just use some warmer water to really get things moving.

Pond hopping has been fun around the state. Still some trout here and there in the ponds at Newton and Tidbury.

Bird watching has been fun — a lot of osprey are showing up along the coast. A few snowy olws are still around, but they will be leaving soon. The winter-spring migrations have layovers this time of year; you never know what you will see. Seals are still being spotted on beaches, the rock walls, and aroud the inland bays.

Flounder size limit changes

Delaware is in the process of changing the flounder size limit, but will it remain all year? Right now the summer flounder limit is 17 inches and four fish per angler, per day. We don’t have a season for flounder like the northern states. Delaware is in the process of changing our summer flounder size limit to 16 1/2 inches. We will keep the four fish a day limit per angler and no season.

Chillaware Tournament May 5


The Chillaware Island Spring Surf Fishing Tournament on May 5 has grown faster than expected. A kids division and expanded fishing options have been added to the spring tournament. We decided we need more room for more fishermen.

We are now uisng all of the fishing beaches in Delaware Seashore State Park. Anglers competing can fish from Keybox to 3R’s. We will have prizes for the kids division, but they will be eligable for the main and overall prizes as well.

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

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