Life is a beach, fish it!

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Striped Bass caught by Chris Turak in the surf at 3R’s in Delaware Seashore State Park.

The summer temperatures are finally upon us and so are the bugs.  With the wind blowing across the dunes it has been a tad buggy on most beaches.  The Delaware bay beaches more so than anywhere.  That doesn’t stop people from fishing.  The surf has been producing kingfish, croakers, spot, ling/spotted hake, shad, flounder, striped bass, weakfish, bluefish, puffers, dogfish, sharks (toothy units), rays, and skates.  Where to find all of these is the question.  The Delaware bay beaches are producing more weakfish, spot, and croaker than anywhere else.  That includes the Cape Henlopen pier, and that is just to say they are more prevalent there for now.  Flounder have been heavy on Henlopen beaches and the pier, also in the bays.  The ocean beaches are producing more kingfish and puffers than anywhere else.  Skates and sharks are everywhere.  Squid, fishbites bloodworms, small chunks of bunker have been great for the smaller fish.  Bunker chunking for the larger species.  Gulp is doing well also, pick your favorite go to bait, and rip it up.  Yesterday, Chris Turak caught a nice keeper striped bass in the surf at 3R’s.  They are still being caught here and there in the surf, and the action at the Indian River Inlet has still been good to awesome.  Massey’s Landing has seen flounder, shad (at night), and bluefish.  Drum are still in the Delaware bay, clam is the best bait.  I am looking forward to seeing the trip Mac Davis, Scott Jost, and I took last week with Delaware Family Fishing, on TV this Saturday night at 7:30 p.m. on WBOC’s Outdoors Delmarva.  Remember fish move, so do the tides, and predicting where to fish is tough at times.  You would be surprised at the numbers of fish out there if you could see into the water.  Many of the striped bass I have heard about after being cleaned are full of spot.  If you keep a fish check the gullet to see what they are eating.  Catch a spot in the surf, toss it back out there, and see what happens.  Remember it is fishing, catching is not always the case.  If you are targeting just striped bass in the surf you will have a long day.  Throw out a top and bottom rig on another rod, and see what else you can catch.  I always fish with a variety of rigs to see what produces, but I try to stick with two rods.

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Croaker that hammered my bunker chunk and was caught on a 7/0 hook.  The bait is nearly the size of the fish.

Yesterday morning I fished Braodkill beach, hitting croaker like crazy, and flipping over horseshoe crabs.  Mostly small croakers, but a few decent sized keepers.  I threw them all back.  I am sure this weekend I can load up on fish for the fry pan.  Some days I know I won’t have the time to clean my catch right away and I prefer fish as fresh as possible.  Yes I know after a while on ice they are still fine, but with the beach access I enjoy, I can be a little picky.  My buddy Matt was hitting spikes (small trout) and croaker on chicken.  I know it sounds nuts, but chicken breast is a great bait.  There are several theories about why that is the case.  Some feel it looks like clam (fish can’t see), I think it has to do with the fact we have been using chicken for crab bait for years, and it has become a food source of sorts.  Chicken does put off a bit of oil, and that is probably the main reason it works.  The fact it works better for some fish and not others is a mystery to me.  Last night Greg and I fished Broadkill Beach again (backyard) and I hit a few tiny croaker on fishbites.  I grew tired of that, and switched to bunker chunks on 7/0 hooks.  I was still catching small croaker on a hook the size of the fish’s head, and they were hitting like freight trains.  The best part of the night was when Greg caught a shark (toothy unit).  One of the neighbors took their friends down to see the beach, since this was their first time here … “You have to see the beach before you leave”  That is when Greg’s rod was hammered hard, while they stood there and watched, he caught a 3 foot plus sand shark.  OMG!!!! was the reaction from the newcomers, and I think it is safe to say they have a whole new perspective about the beach.  I am still chuckling over that one, yeeessssss,  sharks live in the ocean.  If you catch a shark this weekend, and you can not identify it, release it immediately.  Most of the sharks caught in the surf are prohibited species and you will be fined for removing them from the water.  Leave them in the water, pop the hook, or cut the line.  Do not pose for a picture with a prohibited shark, and put it on Facebook or anywhere else, you can be fined for that as well, a picture is still considered possession.  Sand Tiger and Sandbar sharks are the most prevalent in the surf and prohibited.  Identifying sharks can be tough … if you don’t know, let it go.


Mylar balloons, trash in the ocean, littering, dsf, delaware surf fishing, give a hoot don't pollute
Mylar balloon caught int he surf
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My heaviest hit last night was a Mylar balloon. I am so sick of picking up trash every single day I am out there.  Unfortunately this will be the case for a very long time, the trash on the beaches, me being upset about it is a given.  Please carry in and carry out, the parks do not provide trash facilities, nor does the state at public boat ramps.  There are recycling facilities in the parks or near them.  If you see someone trashing an area give them what for, if they don’t like it, call a ranger or the police, littering is illegal.  I see bags of trash tied to rails and fences all of the time.  I don’t understand how carrying out the trash is such a big deal, it can not weigh as much as when they carried it in there.  Most of the trash on the beaches washes up from other inland in rivers and storm water systems.  Everything eventually winds up in the ocean.  Much of the trash that floats around in the water is mistaken by fish and wildlife as food.  We use lures to mimic baitfish and create flash to attract fish.  Trash does the same thing, but with deadly results.  It can clog their digestive systems or gullets and kill the animal.  Birds will pick up trash in the water thinking it is food.  Many people I know carry out more trash than they create to help clean the beaches.  If trash does not offend your senses when you see it on the beach or in the water, then you need to start.  Those plastic bags from the stores when in the water can mimic jellyfish that are eaten by many sea creatures.  It is truly disgusting what humans have done to this planet in the name of convenience and cash.  Remember the phrase growing up … give a hoot don’t pollute?  Keep it clean out there … everywhere.

Have a great weekend and safe travels.  See you in the sandbox … Life is a beach, fish it!

Fish On!!

Rich King

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