Delaware Surf Fishing Report

We keep getting messages, are the migratory striped bass here yet …

No they are not, but there are keepers to be caught. We discuss this every year, twice a year in fact. The striped bass migration works in phases or stages. We are in stage one in Delaware. There may be a few early arrivals for migratory striped bass, the fish don’t all move at once. What is here is resident striped bass that were born here and will join the migration once they hit the right age. Some will never leave and spend their entire life in Delaware waters.

In stage or phase one the water temperatures drop and the resident bass school up more and start feeding even heavier. They move around a lot to feed and that makes for some fun fishing but yo have to hunt them down a little. Night time under any lights that are always on are a great place for schooling striped bass. The inlet, Masseys ditch, and the Lewes canal to name a few. You have to find a school and then stay with them, this is easier in a boat. It is also easier to spook them in a boat. Never drive your boat into the school, stay away from it and cast towards the fish. You can drift across a school but not under power.

Shore anglers have it tougher we have to find an accessible rip from land to fish, lights, or surf structure. Then we have to wait for a school to decide to feed that area. Knowing where this happens often is part of the game. Fishing the Indian River Inlet walls is always a good choice. Surf structure is great if the fish show up then you get to follow them up or down the beach. That is how the first part of the fall or spring run happens, twice a year.

striped bass, delaware state record, Ben Smith, fall run
Ben Smith with the Delaware State Striped bass record at 52 pounds caught in the surf in December 9, 2012.

Eventually the migratory bass show up, well we hope they all show up. Lately the fish come off Cape May head south and are way too far off the coast to even fish for them. Some do come close to shore. The state striped bass record was broken the first week of December a few years ago. So not all the fish swim by us way offshore where we can’t fish for them.
The key for that action … You have to be there when they swim along the coast. Waiting on a report or even a Facebook post won’t guarantee you a catch. It usually guarantees you hearing you should have been here twenty minutes ago when the action occurred. I would love to sit here and tell you yes they are here and go fish in this spot, but it doesn’t work that way. Fortunately for the bass. Unless they decide to blitz a beach but that doesn’t last long unless we get some serious sand eel action. Bass will sit on sand eels for a while, they follow the food as the “run” south or north.

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oil spill delaware beaches, tar oil
Tiny blobs of oil can still be found on the upper beach in the wrack line

So get out and fish is the best advice I can give you. Northern Jersey is seeing a lot of action in the surf and still in some of the Jersey back bays. We are weeks out at this point for the full migration to start near Delaware. Which is good because now you at least know it isn’t over and has hardly started. Mimic sand eels with teasers, AVA’s, or anything that looks sand “eelish”. Bunker chunks are always a go to, the state recorded was busted on a bunker chunk. Don’t forget we have a slot limit for striped bass. No one will be breaking the Delaware state record for a while.

tautog, delaware surf fishing, ocmd inlet, indian river inlet
Josh Levan with a keeper tautog in Ocean City MD

The weekend is looking great for fishing, today was beautiful. I haven’t been out in weeks I wanted to let the oil spill mess calm down I am running out of old shoes. Lots of dogfish. I spent most of the day looking at different beaches and checking spots I prefer to fish. Eventually I would up at the point. I’m fishing all weekend hoping for some action besides dogs and skates. An easy way to avoid them is cast lures all day and skip the bait fishing. I prefer lures, but will do both. There are still puppy drum in the surf hitting fishbites fast acting formulas.

Tautog action was hot at the Ocean City Inlet today and not to bad at the Indian River Inlet. I saw a lot of shorts caught at Indian River inlet but keepers too. Josh Levan was hammering Tautog in Ocean City. “Dude it was an epic day fishing that inlet. We slayed fish.” The walls and offshore reef and wreck sites are also producing. Some days are better than others.

Have a great weekend.
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