Summer fishing’s great but we’re ready for the point soon

Stefan Talabisco and Robert “Boots” DiGiacomo aboard the Miss Asheri out of Rock Hall, Maryland with Captain Donnie Bayne. Submitted photos

Is it August already? Looking forward to fishing at the point in four weeks. That day is a like a holiday for us, some take off work just to be the first out there to fish the point. Summer fishing has been great this year. The surf is full of a variety of fish. Offshore action has been decent, boats are doing well.

The surf has been easy to fish this year. DS Custom Tackle Top and bottom rigs for the smaller fish; kingfish, pompano, croaker, spot, short striped bass, weakfish, cusk eels, sand perch, and of course skates rays and sharks. The fish are still in close, the water is warming up but still cool enough to keep fish close to the beach at high tide.

Bluefish are hitting cut bait, mullet rigs and spoons. The schools of summer blues are large with some Spanish mackerel mixed in with the blues. Casting to the schools when they swim by has been productive. Keep a rod at the ready with a spoon or shiny metal.

The flounder fishing has been decent for the time of year. Offshore is better action than inshore. Decent keepers and lots of throwbacks at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier. The spot action at the pier has been on fire most days on the higher tides. Plenty of other fish to catch at the pier: bluefish, short striped bass, and slot bass, and weakfish. You can rent a rod at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier and fish all day with the kids.

Offshore anglers are catching kings, mahi, tuna, swords, sharks, tilefish, and billfish. Check out the charter boats from Lewes to Ocean City for trips. This time of year it is less crowded on the weekdays. The weekends are very busy.

The Delaware Bay has been productive for the head boats. Anglers are catching spade and trigger fish at the walls. Croaker, kingfish, flounder, spotted hake, and weakfish are all over the wrecks and reef sites. The head boats out of Lewes and Indian River run daily. Always better to fish these on the weekdays to avoid the crowds not only on land but on the water.

Bluefish Kevin Golden caught in the surf.

Pond hopping has been fun for bass and pickerel. The top water action is great. The bugs are plentiful, just match the hatch. That means big baits that make a lot of noise. That season is underway, cicadas, katydids, and all kinds of huge beetles. The fly fishing is off the hook in the evenings and mornings.

Eat the ‘trash’ fish

The best part of catching is when you take it home for the table, or better yet, grill it on the beach. There are some “fish” you can eat that you might not even consider just by looking at them. Time to take a closer look at the trash.

One of the most common catches in the surf is skate, or as we like to call it Jersey Flounder. Also nicknamed the Delaware State Fish. We eat skate, it sells in some places for over $12 a pound. I have tossed thousands of dollars back into the surf. I have seen it for sale locally in restaurants as a special dish of the week, but not on the regular menu. Easy to catch, mildly easy to clean, and simple to cook so what are you waiting for? Time to start eating the trash fish.

You can eat 90 percent of the “trash” fish we all throw back and complain about catching. Skate is one of those “trash” fish. Rays, skates, etc., can all be prepared and eaten.

Pompano caught in the surf by Alex measured 14.5 inches. We are seeing some big pompano this year.

There are numerous videos on YouTube to clean skate and rays, more specifically you are cleaning the wings. Cutting the meat off a lot of bones, it is like filleting any fish, just a tad different. Many use pliers to peel the skin and cut as you peel, kind of like a catfish. Some say it is easier to hold onto the whole skate to clean the wings, and then cut the wings off the main body.

You will need gloves to avoid the skin spikes and keep a firm grip. You can always go to your local fish cleaning station and pay the guy to do it for you.

Larry Grover recently caught and cooked a skate and I asked him to tell us a little about how he cooked it. You can cook skate to taste just like any other fish. There are also many recipes for cooking skate on the internet.

Skate cooked and served with Tater Tots because everything is good with tots.

I used the following to prepare my skate …

1 -1 1/2 pounds skate wing

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup butter

1/8 teaspoon old bay

1: Rinse skate. Cut the fish into 4- or 6-serving-size pieces, if necessary. Pat dry.

2: Combine flour, salt, old bay, and pepper. Coat skate with flour mixture.

3: Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Cook half of the fish for 15 minutes or until the fish is golden brown and flakes easily with a fork. Turn the fish once halfway through cooking time.

4: Carefully add butter. Cook and stir until butter just browns. Remove from heat. Spoon sauce over skate.

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

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