Late Summer Fish Arriving Early

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Dennis Collett’s grand daughter … Granddaughters first fish (king) from the surf on her own rod and reel and also on her cast. Four on the day. One happy person. Hooked for life and now I have a great fishing buddy. Love it

One of the best parts of my job is helping people fish or guiding them so to speak.  My favorite is to see the kids out catching.  School has been out for a while now and a lot of kids are hitting the water.  These days to see kids enjoying the outdoors is a rarity thanks to video games.  I know a lot of parents that make the kids get outside and take the phones away for the day.  Great idea, they get to see and enjoy the outdoors up close and personal.

The hardest part of getting kids fishing is the fact that if they aren’t catching then they get bored.  You have to get them to understand that fishing is a way of life, a way to relax and enjoy the outdoors.  That can be really difficult when the bite is slow or not happening at all.  That in and of itself is a good lesson for them, learning that you don’t always reap the rewards from a day of fishing.  Also that the main reward is being outdoors with friends and family having a good time, catching is a bonus.

This past week a lot of kids were fishing the bays, piers, and surf with family and they reaped the rewards of putting in the time. A lot of first time catches occurred that hooked these kids for life.

I spent hours one day on the dock at the lake with my nieces and nephews baiting hooks and releasing fish.  I felt like I was on a head boat. Every ten seconds it was bait a hook or remove a fish.  The kids were catching bluegills which are easy peasy to catch but they had a blast and don’t care what they are catching.  Just the act of yanking in fish all day kept them excited and interested.

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Maddie Rigney with a triggerfish at the Cape Henlopen Fishing pier

So if you want to take the kids out for a day of catching you have to go to good spots that produce fish. Bluegills are certainly easy to catch and the kids have a blast. The Cape Henlopen pier is a good spot during high tide for smaller fish that hit regularly such as small sea bass, spike trout, and short striped bass.

What has been happening in our area waters? Full summer fishing is in swing and we have some early arrivals.

The water temperatures despite the heat are holding nicely. Inland bays at Masseys landing is bouncing between seventy-one and eighty-one degrees between tides. The Delaware Bay is in the low seventies in Lewes and Cape May. In the upper bay the mid seventies and near Delaware city it is in the lower eighties. The surf temperatures are in the lower seventies.  Water is still cooler than normal but we have a lot of late summer fish already here.  Half beaks are around the Cape Henlopen pier this morning being caught by th dozens in cast nets.

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Half beak caught at the cape Henlopen fishing pier.
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Triggerfish are all over the place. The Indian River Inlet, Masseys Landing, the walls and wreck sites, the surf in Fenwick Island State park and the Cape Henlopen Fishing pier. Dave Bebee said they are seeing a lot of trigger being caught and one was even put in the aquarium at the nature center in the park. “We see a few triggers every year, but nothing like we have seen recently. They are around the pier poles and the old structure left from the old pier.” The croaker and spot catches at the pier are random and slow. Seems that fishing for them has been getting worse and worse each year. Many think it has to do with the gator bluefish we are seeing each year now. We haven’t seen any decent croaker action in a couple of years and the same goes for spot. Triggers are hitting small hooks with clam, or bloodworms.  Just look near the pier poles.  I was there the other day talking to Taylor about his skate and dogfish project.  We took a ride to the end of the pier to check out the trigger action.  You can see them up against the pier poles feeding off the life growing on the poles.

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Spade fish caught aboard the Fish Whisperer … photo by Captain Chris Ragni

Spadefish are being caught on wrecks while trigger fishing.  Sheepshead are abundant around the wrecks and the Indian River Inlet.  Spearfishermen are getting their fair share in when they can get a shot, those fish can spook quick.

The surf is seeing mostly kingfish and small weakfish.  Some really small flounder here and there and an occasional keeper flattie. Of course there are skates, rays and dogfish.  Lot of sharks being caught and taken out of the water.  Keep the prohibited species in the water, that is a good way to harm the shark and get in trouble.  People keep asking for fresh bunker, the only thing you are going to catchwith fresh bunker are skates, rays, and sharks.  Use top and bottom rigs to avoid the scavengers and catch fish.

Weakfish or trout are being caught around the Indian River inlet, nice sized trout not just the little spikes.  There are a lot of spikes in the surf, but the inlet and Broadkill river have produced some nice sized trout.  Pink zooms on two ounce jig heads work great for trout.  Many have caught them on minnows drifting for flounder in the Lewes canal and Broadkill river.  Good to see some nice sized trout coming back to the area, hopefully that will continue.

John Romack caught this 22″ Sheepshead fishing with live sand flea at the south jetty … photo from Fenwick Bait and Tackle

Flounder fishing has been hit or miss for many anglers. The inland bays are not producing very well. The offshore action is decent and the Delaware Bay structure. The Cape Henlopen fishing pier is seeing more and more action but mostly small flounder, the keepers have been respectable sizes.. The Lewes canal still has some decent action.  The largest flounder we have seen this year was around eight pounds.

Slot striped bass fishing around the Cape Henlopen pier has been decent and the Lewes Canal and Broadkill river. Keep in mind you can’t keep them past the bridge in the canal. You can use bloodworms, sand fleas, or minnows. Top water action is fun around structure or grass banks. Schooling striped bass will sit along a grass bank on an outgoing tide and feed on the baitfish that are coming out of the grass from the lower water.  Small swim shads or bucktails are great to use along these areas as well as top water.  The structure around the Cape Henlopen fishing pier usually holds a decent amount of slot sized striped bass.

Decent yellowfin bite offshore, and some have gotten into the big eyes.  Bluefin are finally being caught for some boats on the chunk.   There have been a few good shark catches as close as A buoy.  Last year we saw Mahi as close at five miles offshore.  People are wondering if that will happen again.  With these early arrivals from the Gulf Stream anything is possible.

Fish On!
Rich King

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