Delaware Surf Fishing Report

Summer fishing is in full swing with new species arriving

(July 15, 2021) … If you haven’t been outside, we can cut the air with a butter knife now.  Summer time is in full swing. I’m so busy in the DS Custom Tackle warehouse, I haven’t seen water in weeks! They don’t let us out much this time of year.
  No one blew anything up this past week, except the bluefish!  Yeah buddy, the blues are finally in town.  They are only about four weeks late.  Must have been visiting Elvis with the pompano. Use DS Custom Tackle Modified Mullet rigs for better hook ups and using less bait. 
Tautog season started July first and some anglers are doing okay at the walls in the Harbor of Safe Refuge. 

bluefish, modified mullet rig, delaware surf fishing, ds custom tackle
Three time tourney winner Stephan Talabisco with a bluefish on a modified mullet rig

Water temperatures are on the rise with the heat waves. The water temperature at Masseys Ditch is fluctuating ten degrees between tides. Best to fish early morning and late evenings which also helps avoid the crowds. Especially the parking lots on the drive on drinking beaches. The tide this weekend is my favorite for this hot weather. Early morning incoming into the early afternoon outgoing through out the day. Walk on fishing locations are perfect for that early morning walk and cast. This time of year I’d rather walk a bit and cast lures, than air down. The surf is averaging seventy five degrees.

NOAA's Water Temperature Map of All Coastal Regions
NOAA’s Water Temperature Map of All Coastal Regions

Pompano are finally showing up in the surf. Fishbites Bloodworms work well for pompano.  The other flavors of Fishbites, crab and sand flea work well too.  The orange colors help mimicking sand flea eggs for a bonus so do orange floats on top and bottom rigs or spot rigs.  The crab flavors are available many colors.

USGS 01484680 MASSEY DITCH AT MASSEY LANDING, DE

Sheepshead are showing up south of us and soon here if not already.
Spanish mackerel are also around. The cobia are showing up in numbers in the Chesapeake and shouldn’t be long for our waters out front, chasing bunker and bluefish schools.

Kevin Krout caught this pompano in the surf recently.

    The flounder action at the Cape Henlopen pier is picking up a little more.  Fish are a little larger and hitting on Gulp, or minnows on Fluke rigs (single drop flounder rig), or jigging bucktails with or without Gulp. 
Roosevelt inlet is producing some decent catches and the Lewes canal.
Head boats are doing well on Delaware Bay structure.
The inland bay flounder action and canal has been decent for the area.  Hardest part of the inland bays is finding a place to fish on the weekend.  The sandbars have taken over the bays.  That usually pushes fish elsewhere.  All of those party sand bars are on top of the mussel beds which are buried and gone now.  Not only a food source for fish, but also a reef structure for all kinds of life, and a natural filter for the waters. 

Offshore and Delaware bay flounder action is good on wrecks and reefs but most anglers are concentrating on sea bass.  That action has been hot on the good days.  The weather has been cooperating for the boats most days. 

Weakfish catches are picking up for larger fish around the area waters. Incoming tide is preferred to actually target weakfish (tide runners).
Mostly a by catch because not too many people actually target them these days. Looking in traditional spoits help[s, but they are random catches all over right now. A small jig head (1 to 2 ounce) with a pink zoom worm works wonders most days. If you can find the old purple ones people used back in the day they work well too.
The speckled trout action in the Chesapeake is picking up too. Hoping to see that here eventually, if not already in Canary creek and the canal.

Smallest flounder caught on a sabiki rig in Masseys Ditch, goes to Tim Bingnear.
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    Spot is hot at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier.  Despite the lack of bloodworms due to supply issues cut off by Tropical Storm Elsa.  Anglers were killing it with Fishbites Bloodworms.  The other flavors of Fishbites, crab and sand flea work well too.  The orange colors help mimicking sand flea eggs. We have a comparison of Fishbites versus Bloodworms
 A sabiki rig is great for spot too.  Doesn’t require bait because the small hooks, six of them, are set up with a little flash to attract a bite.  You are allowed to use Sabiki rigs in Delaware for baitfish, spot are not only good for the table but killer for bait.  We like to catch small spot then live line them for flounder around the inland bays and Cape Henlopen fishing pier  That is one reason more flounder are around these areas, spot is a good food source.  

   Croaker action has picked up around the Delaware bay.  The Jetty at Bowers beach was hot this past weekend.  Good to see the croaker show up in numbers this year.  Back in the day it was scup, now it is croaker.     
Kingfish is still the hot surf catch at the beaches.  Bloodworms or Fishbites.
  Unfortunately it looks like the bloodworm shortage will continue for the season.  Due to harvesting issues from heat and accessibility.  According to many of the diggers in Maine. 

ds custom tackle kingfish rig, trigger fish, delaware surf fishing
Dan Milich caught a trigger fish in the surf on Fishbites and a DS Custom Tackle kingfish rig. Catching structure fish in the surf is always a bonus this dude was on his way somewhere.

   Striped bass fishing has changed up in the Delaware Bay for the summer. It is now striped bass summer slot season.  In case you missed it last time.  
The slot limit for Delaware Bay and its tributaries is 20 – 25 inches and 2 fish per angler per day.
The season lasts from July 1 to August 31.
Also the one issue some anglers have, much like striped bass season in the EEZ is processing these fish in waters they are not legal.
For example if you fish the Lewes canal, and then run to the inland bays on your boat. You are now in possession of illegal striped bass.
Delaware bay tributaries are just that any waterway that dumps into the Delaware Bay. The Lewes Canal is also a Delaware bay tributary. Keeping slot sized striped bass is legal only from the Freeman Highway bridge to the Roosevelt Inlet. Yes. we think it is odd the entire canal is not a tributary like the rest of the tributaries.
Canary Creek, Broadkill River, Mispillion River, Murderkill River etc. are all tributaries.
The entire Delaware bay is under this slot season. These are the best sized striped bass to eat in my opinion.
Unfortunately the Inland Bays are not part of Delaware’s summer striped bass slot season. I wish that would change. It isn’t like it is a huge body of water, but the fishing is pretty good for short striped bass. 
there are even some keeper striped bass being caught around the inland bays and bridges in Ocean City.  

Support your local tackle shops and tackle manufacturers.  DS Custom Tackle is a local manufacturer of quality fishing gear.  They use better components than your typical “cheap” gear.  It might cost a few cents more, but you are helping pay an American to work.  Everyone always says buy American, here is your chance.  

  Crabbing and clamming has been great around the inland bays. 
Keeping your shellfish cold after “catching” them is highly recommended.  This time of year bacteria can be an issue and warm shellfish will explode with bacteria.  We also have vibrio issues in the later summer.  Keeping the shellfish cool will keep the bacteria levels down until it is time to eat. I wouldn’t clam anywhere near the party sand bars.  

kingfish, ds custom tackle, delaware surf fishing
Suzanne Martin with a citation sized kingfish from the surf on fishbites and DS Custom Tackle Top and Bottom rigs

  Freshwater fishing has been excellent for the bass anglers around the area ponds.  Catfish are hitting much harder now that they are not spawning.  Fly fishing for the smaller pond fish has been fun. The fly anglers have been doing well in the flats areas for croaker and the like.  Check out the Saltwater Fly Anglers of Delaware club.  They are based in Lewes Delaware and meet monthly, great club.  Probably a few hundred years of combined knowledge in that club.  They also meet at the Cape Henlopen Fishing pier every two weeks and fish the flats as a group.

“Fleaing” for striped bass at night is a blast. Go to the Indian River Inlet at night, set up in the darker areas. Catch about half of a five gallon bucket of sand fleas at the beach.  Put one on a four to six aught circle hook with no weights.  Toss a few sand fleas into the water and then toss your line in the same spot.  The short striped bass will feed like pigeons or gulls on those fleas you tossed in and then hit yours as well.  Hold onto your rod good if using light gear, they hit hard it is a lot of fun.  You are now fleaing for striped bass.
By the way you can eat sand fleas, they are delicious. We will show you that process soon.

   
Keep an eye on the Damn Fly Meter.


See ya in the sand box.

Troy Raber with the catch of the week, a wig. “We were freaking out a little bit until we saw the clips, and no head attached to it”.

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