Delaware Surf Fishing Report
(May 27, 2020) … The weather outside is as predictable as catching. You just never know. The water temperatures plummeted, but the fishing stayed on point to a degree. Things got tougher during the windy days, especially with grass and junk in the water for the surf anglers. The conditions are not always perfect, but don’t let that stop you form fishing.
Delaware has lifted more restrictions for fishing access. Walk on fishing at beaches is allowed, bay and ocean. The surf fishing restrictions are still in effect with distance reduced to twenty feet between vehicles. Would like to see that rule stay in place for good. That is literally a car length between vehicles, which gives the angler space to actually fish.
Private boaters are not having any issues. Charters and head boats are still restricted.
The drum bite has been fantastic most days for the boats and surf anglers. Clams are the best baits for boat anglers and sand fleas seem to be the most popular for the surf. The fish are anywhere from twenty pounds up to ninety pounds. Those big fish are rather old. “You can hear the fish “drumming” hard when you are on the water” You have to put in the time don’t drop in a line and expect to hook up immediately. Some days are always better than others, some days no one catches anything. Yesterday they blew up on the outgoing tide on the Delaware Bay beaches.
Migratory striped bass fishing is still hot in the upper Delaware. Big fish being caught on bunker chunks from the boats. Few fish are being caught by shore anglers. The Chesapeake bay is seeing its share of large bass catches as well. we are seeing the occasional keeper in the surf here and they are still migrating up the east coast.
Crabbing has been excellent for the inland bays and all the waterways. Soaking pots is the easiest. For those getting pots stolen or emptied (poaching) around the inland bays. There are a few ways to prevent that, the best is locking your pots. A friend of mine uses multiple brass locks with the same key to lock up his crab pots. “The locks work for a few years and once in a while I just have to lube the mechanisms of the locks. At the end of the season I clean the locks and grease them up for the next year.”
The bluefish are here but not like may want. The big gators have been random catches and based on what I am seeing in our waters. I doubt we will see many large bluefish close to the surf this year. There are croaker, kingfish, spot, and weakfish in our waters. The last few years with the big gator bluefish, we didn’t see many of those fish until later in the summer, if at all. These smaller fish arriving now leads me to think we won’t see many large gator blues in the surf this spring. As in the past few years they would be here enmasse by now. Anglers up in New York are now starting to see schools of gators, but not huge numbers.
There are plenty of two to four pound blues being caught. The size many of us prefer to eat and then use the carcasses in the crab traps.
DS Custom Tackle Modified mullet rigs are landing more fish. Anglers using cut bait are catching as well on the larger top and bottom rigs with he bigger “J” hooks and floats, fireball rigs. The J hooks help prevent the blues from biting into your line.
If you are hooking up and then getting cut off the blues have some serious food competition going on this time of year. If you hook up one others will try to take the bait from your fish. In that process they tend to bite the line, cutting it and losing your fish. If that starts happening cast shorter and fish the shore side of the school. Dragging a hooked up bluefish through a school of feeding bluefish is a sure way to get your line cut.
The little summer fish are making an appearance now too. Spot, croaker, kingfish, sand perch, and weakies. There have been a few speckled trout caught as well. Fishbites bloodworm formula and sand flea formula, squid, cut bait have all been good baits to use. Cut bait will catch more scavengers than Fishbites. The surf has seen some decent numbers of catches, as well as the Cape Henlopen Fishing pier. Northern puffers have been here a while and are hitting the same baits. I am sure we will see some burr fish soon, some of them have washed up on beaches due to heavy wind surge. Best advice to fish the surf right now is put out a rod for big fish and rod for little fish. Keep a rod for casting at the ready for bluefish schools as they pass by your spot. A silver spoon is the best to use, those three ounce gator spoons are my favorite.
Sea bass has been hot for the boat anglers getting out. Anglers are limiting out on most trips. Decent sized bass for this time of year. The lack of boat traffic and anglers has made for some easier catching in many areas. Word of advice for boat anglers taking group shots. If you are going to take pictures of your catch, social distance in the photo and wear the masks. If you aren’t from the same household, and fishing on a boat together, the rules still apply for the SOE. This is how we lose more access during a pandemic.
Flounder fishing is picking up a bit around the waterways. Gulp and drifting minnows works well. Bacon is a good addition for flounder jigging. The Lewes canal has seen decent action. Catching flounder on jigs in the surf is working if you target the cuts and close to shore. Fly anglers are doing well on flounder at the flats at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier, using clousers.
The Cape Henlopen pier has some decent flounder action for keepers between many a throwback. Check with the pier shop for any up to the minute catch reports. The action at the pier changes constantly, due to the tides.
That lack of boat traffic has caused another thing. The waterways are very clear. “I could see my feet in four feet of water of Lewes beach while surf fishing. I have been here for over 30 years and have ever seen it this clear.”
The inland bays and everywhere else are much cleaner looking right now until that boat traffic picks back up and the phytoplankton comes back in strong.
The water temperatures are recovering nicely, but still below the yearly average. The inland bays in a week have increased to the mid sixties from the upper fifties. The Delaware Bay is in the mid sixties and the surf is just at sixty degrees. Keep in mind these are surface temperatures. That changes once you pass the thermocline. I am sure the bottom temperature is really cold compared to the surface, the fish don’t care. “I pulled my gear up and grabbed the weight, it felt like it had been in the freezer all night”
DS Custom Tackle, a local fishing gear maker out of Harrington, Delaware has announced they are running a summer long sale for all their products online. “We are doing this for everyone who is still not able to go to stores or be in public. A lot of people have also asked us if we could keep our sales going to help them out in these tough financial times.” David Okonewski “Our gear is also available exclusively at finer reputable outlets”
The freshwater fishing has been great for the sweet water anglers. Snakeheads are hitting hard. The bass and pickerel have been fun catches. Keep an eye on the bugs showing up, that is one way to check what you might want to try for lures. Dragonflies are emerging. Match the hatch as we like to say.
Offshore fishing is picking up as boat restrictions get lifted. Ocean City charter boats are heading out and doing well on tuna, mahi, skipjacks, and the first big eye came to the scales the other day. As Delaware gets restrictions lifted more charters and head boats will be able to go out.
Social fishstancing is still a thing and a great way to enjoy the outdoors without anyone around. As we get past this, eventually more access will open up, but right now you can fish just about anywhere you want. The out of state quarantine lifts on June 1st, we expect to see a flood of anglers in Delaware over the first weekend of June.