Indian River Inlet – DSSP

Indian River Inlet (IRI)

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Indian River Inlet before the new bridge.

The Indian River Inlet, part of  Delaware State Seashore Park (DSSP) offers direct access to the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian River Bay and Rehoboth Bay.  IRI is in the top ten of dangerous inlets, boaters beware it can get hairy in there fast if you aren’t paying attention.  Then again some days it is calm and serene looking, especially at a slack low tide.  Even seasoned boaters can run into trouble heading in or out of the inlet. Jetty anglers be aware of the tides and the large breakwater rocks that line both sides of the inlet. The north and south rocks also lead out directly into the ocean.  The north and south beaches can be fished along the rock jetties during the off season.  Also after lifeguards have left for the day, but keep an eye on the surfers.  Fishing the Indian River Inlet takes patience, practice, and above all pay attention.  You can lose gear or your footing real fast.

Fishing beyond the safety of the railing on the jetty cap can be dangerous. We do not recommend the inexperienced or ill equipped chance their safety.  Whether you walk out to the end of the rock piles or just fish on the other side of the jetty cap rail, the inlet is dangerous if you are not paying attention. The rocks below the tide line are covered with algae, and other growth,  which make them very slippery.  You need korkers or some kind of studded shoe or boot to walk on the rocks.  The rocks always above the tide line are fine to walk on just be careful if one moves you can pitch forward, and they are slippery if covered in sand or debris.  During dead low tides the rocks on the ends of the jetty and the lower areas will dry and become walk-able until they get wet.  I have seen people crawl back to the dry rocks and even get stuck on the tower of the south side jetty.  The inlet is dangerous and you need to respect that when you are fishing those jetties, especially out front.  Many anglers are wearing the less cumbersome auto PFD devices when they are fishing the rocks.  If the angler is washed off they can hit a button and float.  Rouge waves can wash across the rocks and sweep an angler of their feet, into the water.  Always go with a buddy,and keep a close eye on your surroundings.  Especially if you are fishing at night.

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Fishing the rail at the Indian River Inlet during the striped bass blitz in 2010.  The rail can get crowded.

Both the north and south sides of the inlet offer railings for anglers to fish from but fishing from the rocks below the railings offers the best chance t  Throughout the spring, summer and fall bluefish can be targeted with relative ease as they follow the pods of baitfish around the inlet. The spring and fall striper runs bring healthy doses of 30-plus inch keeper rockfish.  Some years they come into the Indian River Inlet and some years they don’t.  We do have a good population of resident striped bass to keep anglers busy. During mild winters large striped bass will be caught til the end of January, sometimes year-round.

While in season, Tautog (Tog or blackfish) are frequently caught close along the rocks. Further back on the north side of the inlet is the Indian River Inlet Coast Guard station. The station lights illuminate the water and offers a premium spot for blue fish, shad and striped bass to be found. However, you’ll likely be competing for fishing room as this is a favored fishing spot.  The back side of the Coast Guard Station bulkhead wall known as Bubble Gum beach is another access point for shore anglers.  Farther away from the rock pile where the grass section starts, that entire rock wall has a lot of smooth sand in front of it, and offers some decent flounder fishing.  Croaker, small sea bass, oyster crackers, and bluefish will hit all along the rock wall.  You can take the family for the day and fish along the rocks and watch the boats go by.  Be careful walking on these rocks, they are smaller than the ones onthe bridge side.  These rocks can teeter n occasion when you walk on them.  Check the rocks around you before you start walking along the edge too much.  A net will be a big help for any large fish.  There is a pay station for parking near the metal bridge if you park at the marina side.  if you park near Bubble gum beach, across from the Center for The Inland Bays, there is pay station there too.  A grey post called an iron ranger.  The other option is to pay at the booth for the main parking lot and then head back there to park.

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The North wall of The Indian River Inlet

The best baits for the inlet flounder are live spot, live mullet, or mummichog minnows, although anglers  have success with white and pink Gulp minnows jigged on bucktails.  Fishing along the rocks on the south side out front along the area where the beach washes over the inlet wall is a decent spot to try. Otherwise it is Bubble gum Beach or the south side wall.  Just below the last bend the water is shallower with a sandy bottom.  A good place to target flounder.

The Indian River Inlet (IRI) is a great place to fish offering a diversity of species that require a variety of techniques.  You can’t just stick some bait in on a hook and expect to catch everything that comes through, but that technique will work on some species.  One of the best parts of  IRI is learning how to fish there.  Hopefully this helped you get a handle on the area and let you explore on your own.   The hardest part about fishing the Indian River Inlet isn’t where, it is deciding how much gear you are willing to lose.

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