Offshore Fishing in Delaware on Jet Skis
The other day I received a picture from Rob Jones, ” This is my crew and I fishing DB buoy on our Jet Skis”. I have seen people go out front and fish in small jon boats to pontoon boats, but not a Jet Ski. So of course I message back that is crazy, but how do I know you are at DB buoy? The picture was just the open ocean in the back ground. So he sends a picture of the Jet Skis next to … DB buoy. My reaction was something in the area of HOLY ____, then I said I have to sit down with you boys and hear about this. Online I have seen many a Sea Doo set up for fishing, but I had not met anyone in Delaware yet that fished this way, but I have heard and seen some folks out there. I was of course intrigued and wanted to know more. Rob Jones and Rob Wolhar dropped by my house yesterday and brought their skis with them, so I could check them out, and now I know what I want for Christmas. These boys have their skis rigged up to fish. Normally they would fish the inland bays, or in front of the beaches and along the inlet walls. Rob Wolhar has been going to the inner walls for a couple of years and he is the guy I saw on a ski when we were fishing the bluefish blitz in the Harbor of Safe Refuge. Recently he and his daughter were out there catching croaker and flounder and today he was out there hammering croaker. Now going to the walls and sites in the Delaware Bay are easy locations to reach on a Jet Ski, but DB buoy? Well that to me was a whole new ballgame. When the boys dropped by they explained just how feasible that is to do with the skis they own.
They have four-stroke Sea Doos, that can run upwards of 70 MPH. There are settings that allow them to switch from sport, tournament, or economy. The eco-setting only allows them to go 40 MPH and the acceleration is limited. With full acceleration capability (set on sport) the skis can instantly hit fast speeds, but burn a ridiculous amount of gas. With the eco-setting they can run nearly one hundred miles on a tank of gas. DB buoy is only 10 miles or so off the coast, not a hard trip to make. Now they are going to up the game and head to the old grounds (roughly 20 miles out) for flounder next weekend. They want to try shark fishing from the Jet Skis at some point. Their ultimate goal is to head to the canyons and Tuna fish. When I asked about rough seas they said it is not bad bobbing around in heavy seas, but would prefer a calm day and will try to plan for one. As far as getting places, they beat all the head boats to DB buoy last week. Even in swells at six plus feet they had no problem riding home, and will soon install electronics so they can plot off shore courses. Right now they use their phones for GPS and stay within range of towers. They are also very familiar with our waters and that is key for this type of fishing. They also try to stick to areas that see heavy boat traffic just in case they do have a problem.
The skis are outfitted with racks that are available from a few dealers. The place Rob Jones recommends is Kool PWC Stuff, this company makes racks specific for fishing. With all kinds of racks, for coolers and fishing rods. I have even seen some skis rigged with towers that have canopies and rocket launcher rod holders on them. They look like mini off shore boats. The racks can be set up to hold rods out to the side almost like outriggers so you can troll for striped bass and bluefish, and in the case of the upcoming trip, tuna. The Sea Doos Rob Jones and Rob Wolhar use have ample storage for gear and food. The racks add to the storage and accessibility. There is even a rack that holds extra fuel tanks. You can use two or four gallon cans that lock onto the rack and interlock with one another. Rob Jones has two of these and the rest of the crew carries extra gas as well, just in case. The off shore trip will require extra gas. Honestly that idea is no crazier than back in the day when charters would float gas on their way out for the return trip so they could refuel.
“I was cutting bait one day and looked down and a shark was cruising by my ski” … Rob Jones. “When you are out here fishing on these skis you are up close and personal with the water, more so than a boat” … Rob Wolhar. The only down side is the foot wells will fill with a little water while you are drifting, but the ski will not tip over and you can either move forward to drain the water or use a cup to bail it out. I was impressed with the set ups these boys have, and so have their friends. Several of their friends after seeing and hearing of these adventures put their two-stroke skis up for sale to purchase a four-stroke so they too can cruise long distances and fish. The longest trip the boys made was when they recently went out of the Indian River Inlet, up the coast to the inner wall, then around to the Roosevelt Inlet, and up the Broadkill river to Milton, and then back the way they came. That trip topped out to about 89 miles. They fished the entire time and didn’t “play” in the water to conserve fuel, Rob Jones said he had nearly a quarter tank left. So now the idea is to head offshore and do some tuna fishing. Why? “Because we can” .. Rob Jones
I asked the boys would they recommend this to the average angler, and they both said no at the same time. “You have to be a seasoned Jet Skier, not a weekend warrior, you have to know your craft and the waters.” … Rob Jones and Rob Wolhar One advantage this crew has is the fact Rob Jones is a Jet Ski mechanic, and apparently there isn’t much he can’t do to these craft. So if the boys have a problem offshore, like any seasoned captain, they can fix their gear while at sea. The offshore trip they want to take is for the seasoned jet skier, and they are looking forward to the challenge. I am looking forward to hearing that story and sharing it with you folks. One piece of advice they have for anyone who wants to try PWC fishing is to find people who already do this so you can learn. They have a Facebook group page … Delaware Jet Ski Fishing. They are always willing to teach whatever they can to anyone who would like to learn about this new twist on an old sport. I am looking forward to a trip I hope to take with them soon, but that is a story for another day.