Delaware Surf Fishing Report

More fish and better weather

(April 28, 2021) … The bite has gotten hotter and so is the weather. Feels like July for spring fishing.  nothing like a quick heat wave to really am things up.  The water temperatures have ben steadily rising with the occasional yoyo due to cold snaps.  Now we will see temperature spikes with warmer days coming.  This heat up right now will spike water temperatures for a day or two and set off some fish.  Just what we need to kick in spring fishing that has started up, but slowly.   

masseys ditch water temperature, longneck
Masseys Ditch temperatures the past week. Low temps are high tide.

     Fishing is starting to pick up around Delmarva.  The first flounder hit the boards at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier on Tuesday.  Dave Beebe Owner of Lighthouse View Bait and Tackle.  “The difference a sunny day makes. Dropped a thermometer two inches below the surface today and it read 72 degrees. Drop it to the bottom and you get 56. Couple days of this and that bottom will warm right up “    Glad Dave took a reading, a lot of NOAA’s product are down right now.  Looking up water parameters is a nightmare and half the buoy stations only have a third of their usual info. Even some apps are suffering data loss issues.  

The Cape Henlopen State Park pier anglers are eagerly awaiting for the fish to arrive.  There is some short striped bass action on bloodworms.  The flounder are slowly arriving.  This temperature spike should get the fish moving a little faster.  I expect to see more flounder catches the rest of the week from the pier, Roosevelt Inlet, and the Lewes Canal.  Inland bay action will start up soon, if not already. 
Most anglers have striped bass fever and aren’t targeting flounder on the drift around the bays. Jig the cuts in the surf for flounder with gulp or he spli otter tails.

   The fun part of spring fishing is deciding what you want to fish for today.  Do we go for striped bass, then flounder?  Stick to striped bass?  Hit the beach and try for everything?  Fish early and then later in the evening, mow the grass in the afternoon?  That last one never happens, the grass part, the fishing happens.  

cape henlopen fishing pier, flounder, delaware surf fishing
First flounder of the year caught by Tyler Graden at the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier

   Surf fishing has produced a variety of catches the past week, black drum, northern puffers, northern kingfish, skates, smooth dogfish, shad, and striped bass short to keepers and larger.  
Black drum are hitting sand fleas mostly and clam is working just hard to find surf clams for bait.  Easy to dig for sand fleas right now.  The Delaware bay beaches are the most popular spots but these fish are still moving up from the south.  Assateague has seen its fair share of catches.  Surf fishing Fenwick Island and above will also produce the drum.  The bay beaches are popular since that is where the drum are headed to feed and spawn.   Drum are “serial” spawners meaning they will spawn more than once and usually on the full and new moons they are the most active.  But they do not feed while spawning, which lasts about an hour around sunset.  They do feed before and after spawning.  That is why fishing for them on the full and new moons is preferred for the best action.  When you hear them, “drumming” they are spawning.  The coral beds off Slaughter beach are the most popular spots to fish.  I always release my big drum catches.  These are very old fish, over thirty years usually.  They can also have a lot of worms in their tail meat.   I mean, I like aged beef too, but not aged fish.

   Northern Kingfish and puffers will hit fishbites, bloodworms, squid, or sand fleas.  The blue packets of fishbites will work now but the red dissolves faster and works better in the cooler waters.   These catches have been few
and far between.  The fish are a little early and are telling of the gator bluefish situation. 

   Skates and dogfish are easy, any cut bait will do fine.  Dogfish are great eating, that is what fish and chips are made of in the United Kingdom.  The fish part, not the chips. 

pink moon, delaware surf fishing,
Full Pink Moon April 2021
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   Striped bass fishing for the shorts has been hot action for the “rat” wranglers.  Lot of shad in the mix in some areas surf casting.  Using bucktails in tandem, small swim shads, jigs with soft plastics, poppers and plugs. The fish have the fed bag on they are hitting a variety.
Walk the beaches, not just the inlet beaches are hot spots. Park and town beaches are seeing action for striped bass. Some keepers hit the sand today.
Hey man you fishing”
No I’m in the shop working today, while on a conference call and then the gardens, while on the call.” Why? I get a picture, now I need to blow off work.
“Can you fish while on the call?”
“Yes, yes I can.
Lemme guess, southside?”
“Nope, I’m walking elsewhere today, above and below, doing good too.”

   Everyone wants to know about the big gator blues, the blitz that started in 2017.  I think that is done and we are back to the days of old. 
The usual spring action was big blues would hit the surf for a week or so and it wasn’t anywhere near blitz conditions.  More like random catches here and there from passing schools of bluefish.  Then the blues would move offshore for the rest of the year.  Some will always be mixed in with migratory bass schools, which tend to skip our coast anyway.  Jersey and Delaware has seen a couple of these fish in the past few days.  But nothing like the action of the past few years.  I think we are back to the pre 2017 blitzes.
If that same action were incoming, the coasts to the south of us would be on fire with that action, it isn’t at all.  The action they saw was typical spring action before the great blitz of 2017.

Then again the blues could come in at once and hammer the entire coast, not likely, but that is always possible. There are big blues in the back bays of Jersey right now, but they are with the bass migrating north. Some have ben caught in Delaware in the past couple days. I’m guessing that action will be for days, not weeks.

  The smaller fish already arriving, puffers and the northern kings shows that there isn’t a lot of predators wearing them out.  In the south the kingfish and puffer action is on fire in the surf.    The first year of that bluefish blitz you couldn’t buy a small fish catch. 

But I’m still going fishing for the gators.  Bait the rods in the surf for whatever with DS Custom Tackle top and bottom rigs, and start throwing spoons for blues.  Looking for schools on bunker as they swim along the beaches.
  The blues showing up in the surf in Jersey are some of the gators and the smaller five pounders.  A few small blues at Assateague.  One fish does not make a big blitz.  But I’m going fishing for them anyway.  Because you never know, until you go.

   Early morning and mid afternoon low tides this week.  Fishing the incoming tides will be perfect for the evening bites.   Better to have high tide for the warmer afternoons than the low.  Afternoon low tides are great around the inland bays for clamming.  Not so much for boating.  Clam raking is producing and has been.  I don’t think you want to try using your toes yet, the water is still too cold for that at fifty-eight degrees.
Lunar tides will be an issue for boaters around the inland bays at low tide. Be careful out there, people already getting stuck.

   Crabbing is picking up with pots on the soak.  Trot liners aren’t even trying yet.  Handlining around piers will produce, but it takes a lot longer than summer.  The crabs are fat and healthy that are being caught.  This warm up will help jump start that action more.   Walking the flats with a net and innertube with a basket is great this time of year.  The water is clear enough to see the crabs.  Just scoop’em up and dump in your basket. This time of year wear waders for the water temperature.  Boots for glass. 

boat on sand bar, tow boat us,
Pontoon boat stuck on a sand bar trying to cross in too shallow water Get your Tow Boat US memberships! photo Driscoll Drone

   White perch are still a hot waterway catch.  Short striped bass in the mix.  Catfish ar on fire.  Look for Hey Mon Catfish shad bites by Fishbites.  This artificial bait is killer for caching cats and other fish.  

The nice part of spring, there is less competition for space to fish.  Covid has changed that a bit, it is already getting crowded on the water in some spots. Lot of boat activity increasing already.   Should be an interesting weekend with low lunar tides and all the sandbars and shoals around the inland bays.  If you don’t have your Tow Boat membership get it now.  That is one “peace” of mind you will want this year.  Especially around the inland bays.  The low tide aerial pictures show a lot of low areas that will catch boats this year.  The dredged areas of last year are already filling back in and will be an issue about mid summer at this rate.   Especially along Pot Nets Seaside at the Masseys ditch channel entrance on the Indian River bay side.   

   Should be a nice weekend not the summer temperatures we had midweek.  Get out and catch!

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