Have A Safe And Fishful Memorial Day Weekend

One of the best parts about fish showing up late is you get to fish for them a little longer or so it seems.  At least the rain is not as bad and we have Memorial Day weekend coming. Okay honestly I have no idea how the weather is in Delaware I am in Florida.  I’m just watching my friends complain on the interweb so it must be true. Down here it is hot and it rains every day for about ten minutes, I hear you all are dealing with the exact opposite.  I have a tropical storm headed this way for my weekend, should make for some interesting drink specials at the Flora-Bama. The official start of the summer season is upon us, even down here.  Stay safe.

The bluefish action has picked up at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier and the beaches. Anglers are limiting out when the blues blitz the pier and the flats.  That is just hard to predict according to Dave Beebe.  I guess you can’t pattern fish bluefish.  Last year they were showing up like clockwork and the year before that and the year before that.  The Oceanic pier in Ocean city is seeing some good blues action. Spoons, poppers, plugs, or bait. They are hitting everything now that the water temperatures have increased. Mullet rigs are working great in the surf. You can see bluefish tailing in the flats at the pier and around the inland bays.  It is hard to see them moving along the beaches, they will swim right by in a school and you wouldn’t know it.  That will change this weekend when hundreds of rigs not being watched will get bit off.  Last year we watched rods get slammed,bend over hard, then go limp after a few bounces.  The “anglers” who weren’t really fishing didn’t even know they got bit off, that is when we would start casting spoons and plugs.  The bluefish indicator this weekend will be unattended fishing rods bouncing like crazy.  You can literally see the fish come up the beach when this happens, like dominoes.  If all goes like last year they will be close to the beach’s drop off.

 

dnrec, black drum study, cooler for fish heads
This cooler to collect drum heads for DNREC’s study is at Dan’s Tackle Box on route 1

The northern pufferfish are not only in the surf but around the inland bays, spawning.  You can fill up a bucket real fast if you find a school of them.  Keep in mind if you practice this type of fishing you can reduce a population really quick.  There is a debate on whether people should be killing more big bluefish to help control their population so they don’t eat everything.  That is debatable on many levels.  First off fish populations always cycle from one dominant predator to another.  When the weakfish were thick back in the day, striped bass were not.  Now that the bass are reduced in numbers we are seeing bigger weakfish, another fish you can get at night in the surf.  I don’t usually promote weakfish catching, but it is such a tasty fish.  Your hardcore bass anglers don’t want to see their precious bass disappear, but one species has to be the dominant and right now that is these big-headed skinny spring bluefish eating machines.

Flounder is getting better and better in the Lewes canal, Roosevelt Inlet, inland bays, and surrounding waterways. Minnows are best to drift or use gulp. I prefer to use a single hook rig, no sense in feeding the fish twice. Your bait supply will last longer as well. Gulp is easy to double up with top and bottom rigs, but again I prefer a single drop loop rig and a two ounce bank sinker. Most people miss flounder because they drift too fast in their boats. Slow down and you will catch more fish. Flounder will chase bait, but they prefer to lie in wait for a good meal.  Offshore action is decent on the usual sites.

cape henlopen fishing pier, delaware, sussex county,
Looking at the structure under the pier at low tide is a great way to find the places the bait fish congregate. A flounder buffet if you will.

The Cape Henlopen Fishing pier is a great place to catch flounder. Especially if you know where to fish, not just when. Go to the pier on a dead low tide day and walk under the pier and look at the structure. The old pier poles have holes in them and sections missing. These areas hold bait fish when the tide is up. This is where you want to fish for flounder and other predators. They hunt around the poles or structure looking for food. The bait fish get into these holes and cut outs and can’t really escape. It is like a buffet for a flounder.

Migratory striped bass action has increased in the Delaware Bay beaches, and ocean beaches. The Indian RIver Inlet has seen some great action. Clam has been the preferred bait but sand fleas will work just as well. Same goes for the black drum fishing which has picked up hot and heavy in the Delaware Bay and beaches. Broadkill beach has seen some great action on clam or sand fleas.  The drum and striped bass are close to the surf to eat sand fleas, so you may as well start with them, and they are free to dig up in the surf line.  Anyone ever stack up fleas on a mullet rig?  It looks like a shish kabob for fish, and it works.

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Night time is the right time, not only for drum fishing at the coral beds in the Delaware bay, but also along the beaches for striped bass and drum. If you want to catch big striped bass on poppers you have to start fishing the night shift. The calmer the seas, the easier it is to entice a bass to hit a popper, make a lot of noise and the fish will come. Make the right noise and you will catch some seriously big fish. I don’t know why more people don’t fish this way it is the best catching you can get for striped bass. I am talking about the forty to fifty pound class bass.  They hit like a freight train and pull like a car, turning them is difficult be prepared to get spooled and possibly broke off.  Forty to fifty pound braid is a must, and you better have a good reel that can take some drag.  The big fish come closer to shore at night to feed. They do not like the bright water during the day, their eyes are so sensitive they can practically see in the dark. You can drive on and fish at night so long as you are actively fishing. I prefer to park and walk at night, it is easier to get around. DO NOT shine your light on the water. That is the easiest way to scare off any fish.   Fishing Rehoboth beach near the storm drain structure is a good place too, from Henlopen Hotel to the naval Jetty is a lot of good structure.

Bunker chunks soaking will entice a large bass, but the sharks are here so you will most likely catch one of them with cut bait at night.  They also come close to shore at night.  Sand tigers are already being caught off the beaches.  Remember the rules for shark fishing in Delaware, keep them in the water. Also you can not remove any shark under fifty-four inches from the water.  That is a federal rule, not just the state of Delaware.  I wa informed of this last year by DNREC after posting a picture of a young man holding up a small hammerhead shark he caught in the surf.  So Delaware’s prohibited sharks can not come out of the water and any shark under fifty-four inches cannot be removed from the water as well. Personally I think it is kind of silly you can’t take a two foot shark out of the water to get the hook out of its mouth, but I don’t make the rules.

Sea bass action has been great for all the charters.  They are limiting out with some nice looking fish and full boxes.  Great fish to eat.  Flounder action offshore has been decent.  Most people seem to be hiring charters to go catch behemoth drum.

 

Have a safe holiday weekend, slow down your driving, you will get where you are going. Don’t forget to take a moment to remember why we celebrate memorial day. It is not about barbecues, beer, and beaches. It is about honoring those that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom … Thank You!

Fish On!

Rich King

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