Delaware Surf Fishing Report

Between the flounder, striped bass, white perch and crabbing things are looking up for the fishing community.

The world may be going crazy while bored, but we are going fishing for dinner. For those that cannot come to Delaware we feel for you, we really do, and hope this is all be over soon.
In the meantime you can live vicariously through all of us and our friends. Some of us are living vicariously through each other as well. Not everyone can get out and fish, and the family that quarantines or social distances together, fishes together.
Social fishstancing is a must right now, and it can easily be done in the outdoors.

The restricted surf fishing rules so far are being obeyed for the most part. It is annoying to the families, but at lest we have beaches to surf fish. We are one of the few states that has beaches to fish and open parks to enjoy with limits. Let’s keep it that way, follow the new rules, and stay out of the restricted areas. I hear it is a $150 fine if you are in an area that is marked off limits, which could push up even more. People are allowed to walk certain beaches for exercise and walk their dogs, please pick up after your dogs that is getting old, finding dog waste bags piled up in parks, hanging on dune fences, and tossed around in wildlife areas. That is one way to lose access for dog walking.

do waste bags, littering, clean up after your pets, assawoman wildlife area
The sign asks you to clean up after your pets, not leave the dog poop bag next to he sign.

  The boaters can fish, and enjoy the waterways. Charters and head boats are not going out at this time, until the business restrictions are lifted May 15th. The inland bay buoys should be placed mid April by the Coast Guard. That has yet to be set in stone as far as a date.

white perch, delaware, sussex county
Anthony and Sophia Purdy from Lewes picked up these white perch

The Inland Bays are gorgeous with blue water. The Rehoboth bay is really clear, even the Broadkill river is exceptionally clear for this time of year. Lack of boat traffic is most likely the reason. It is always really clear this time of year, but this year seems to be exceptional. I don’t imagine too many people want to put their boats in when they can’t come use them or even check on them. Some boat yards are closed, and people can’t access their boats. The early warm up and mild winter is leaving way for a lot of life to show up or emerge earlier than usual. Lot of birds, bees, bugs, lizards, toads, frogs, and buds are popping up in the woods. The peepers are singing, loudly, every night
“The kids and I saw diamond back terrapins, an eagle, two pelicans, and an osprey caught a bunker next to the boat. We have been catching all kinds of fish and the crabbing has been excellent. Today we picked up a 17 inch and a 18.5 in flounder” … Jeff Purdy

flounder, inland bays, indian river bay, flattie, delaware
Anthony and Sophia Purdy from Lewes holding their keeper flounder

The water temperatures around the inland bays peaked at fifty-eight degrees yesterday. The inland bay water temperature has been steadily rising a degree plus a day. Not dropping below fifty degrees on the down swing during the incoming tide the past few days. “We are doing better catching flounder on the outgoing tide when the water is a little warmer.” Jeff Purdy.
The surf temperature and Delaware Bay has been in the low fifties.

masseys ditch, delaware, sussex county,
Masseys Ditch temperatures this past week. steadily rising

Check the Water Temperature Map of the Central Atlantic Coast for Delaware Bay, Chesapeake Bay, and coastal water temperatures. Massey’s Ditch water temperature can be checked on the USGS website, National Water Information System: Web Interface. If the water temperature is climbing the tide is outgoing, if the temperature is dropping on the graph the tide is incoming. The peaks and drops are slack tide, the graph is live or actual time.

dnrec enforcement, striped bass, rockfish, delaware, sussex county, bunker chunks, delaware river, port penn, augustine beach
Jacin Allen with a keeper striped bass and the epic photobomb by DNREC

Up north the Delaware River and upper bay is producing some nice keeper striped bass as well as short bass. White perch are also the hot catch. Bloodworms for the white perch and short bass, bunker chunks for the big bass. A large bass this time of year will take a whole or half bloodworm. Boat fishing has been producing the large bass, but pier and shore fishing has seen some keepers caught in the past weeks.   There are speckled trout that are holdovers from the fall. They have been caught randomly by white perch anglers using bloodworms or grass shrimp.

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Trout fishing in the northern streams is still producing. DNREC is stocking but not announcing when to help keep the crowds down. So far the streams and rivers have had decent traffic but everyone is spaced well and polite. Anglers I run into make it a point to stand eight feet away, talk fishing then head on our way.

   If you are boat fishing the hardest part is fishing with friends and social distancing. Family is a different story they are all staying together.  Jacin Allen and his buddies did it the right way up near Augustine Beach area.  “We all took our boats and just fished near each other and had a great time.  We anchored up more than six feet apart and fished.  DNREC was passing by as I hooked up, they turned back to watch the fight and the solo net job. They congratulated me and was on their way.  They didn’t mind being the back drop for the photo.  We all caught fish for dinner and had a good day on the water using bunker from Port Penn Bait and Tackle.”

bloodworms, port penn bait and tackle, route 9, delaware bay, augustine beach
Bloodworms at Port Penn Bait and Tackle

   That has been another issue, getting bait. Digging for sand fleas is getting easier every day. Turning logs for grubs and worms is always an option, cast netting minnows. Bacon is a good bait on a jig, but I have a hard time sharing my bacon with anyone, much less a fish. There are bumble bees every where a good fly to match the “hatch“. Grass shrimp are abundant in the grasses and on bulkheads. Fiddler crabs though hard to catch make great bait.
Herring are starting up the rivers and creeks, you can’t use them for bait, but you can mimic them with lures. “Broad creek behind my house is loaded with herring and the bass are right behind them, every night you can hear the bass feeding.” Darrel Meade

  Port Penn Bait and Tackle is open up north,  Lighthouse View Bait and Tackle has a bait vending machine at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier, the shop itself might be opening this coming weekend according to Dave Beebe. 
Other shops might be open, you will have to call, business restrictions are changing constantly. Port Penn Bait and Tackle is also listed as a to go restaurant and is allowed to be open. “We are only letting people into the shop one at a time, and we hope to have steamed crabs to go soon. We also have a varsity of other seafood items for sale.” Richard King owner of Port Penn Bait and Tackle
You can hit up a seafood seller or grocery store for clams, shrimp and squid. Maybe ask a seafood place for any fish scraps from filleting fish.

Ted Proseus bailing near keeper sized striped bass at night.

   The Cape Henlopen fishing pier has seen some short striped bass action and of course skates and dogfish, but other than that it has been quiet. Flounder should be in the flats any day now, if not already. The fishing pier beaches are still closed to fishing.
The short bass are bigger at night in many of the traditional areas, the fishing pier, Lewes canal, inland bays and masseys ditch. 
The Indian  River Inlet has decent short striped bass action especially at night. The falling tide is the most popular tide to fish.  Everyone has been fishing the walls (jetties) since you can not fish the beaches, even next to the walls.
Be careful at night those rocks are slick, wear the right gear, and fish with a friend. The handicapped pier on the northside was recently redecked and has new rails.

fishing pier, indian river inlet, delaware, sussex county, inland bays, charles W cullen bridge, indian river inlet bridge
Handicap pier at the Indian river inlet.

Crabbing is excellent this year. Even running trot lines are producing. It is not as much work as it usually is to run a line this time of year. Rings, traps and crab pots are doing well. Hand lining at a pier for the day will produce. If the water were warmer you could wade fish for crabs. Chest waders will work for that activity. You just walk around the flats areas and look for crabs and scoop them up. Only issue is you need a boat or kayak to access the inland bay beach flats areas.
Kayak anglers are not pleased they can not launch from bay beaches. That makes for a long paddle to some areas. That access has been asked for especially at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier. We will see what happens, everyone is asking the administration in Dover for all kinds of things. Everything is being considered for people’s safety. A open beach may look inviting for a few people, but if a hundred people descend on it then it becomes a social distancing issue.

blue claw crabs, hard crabs, steamed crabs, inland bays, indian river bay, rehoboth bay, delaware, sussex coutny, jimmy crabs, sook crabs
Blue crabs hauled in by Rick Ott running a trot line

There are plenty of places to go fishing for food and spread out so you are social distancing properly. It is the little things that help too. Take your own drinks and food, don’t hand things to people, stay in your space, and don’t touch your face. Don’t share fishing gear, or hand off rods. Use gloves at the gas station and air stations, carry hand sanitizer. If you pack everything you need, you don’t need to stop anywhere. Less public exposure the better, real easy to do surf fishing right now. Drive to the access, air down, drive on, fish, drove off, air up, and go home.
Anglers are one of those groups of people that are a social bunch, but we prefer our space to fish. We want as much space as we can get. In a way that has been the silver lining of all of these restrictions. People have to stay way from each other. If I can poke you in the eye with my eight foot fishing rod you are too close.

Fish On!
Rich King

 

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