Summer comes to an end but the fishing continues

Burr fish, IRI, indian river inlet, rocks fishing, southside rail
Burr fish caught at Indian River Inlet … photo by Mark Barry

The summer season is almost over, and the fishing has not changed much.  There are still plenty of flounder showing up at the Old Grounds.   The Indian River Inlet has been decent for flounder, the incoming tide has been better than the outgoing.  Massey’s Landing has seen some nice ones pulled from the ditch.  Gulp (chartreuse) on speck rigs, or a lead head and jigged has worked well. Minnows have been working, use a two ounce weight with a leader about two feet long for the hook.  Just like a rig for drifting, will work from land.  Fishing the rips or moving water is best when fishing from shore for flounder.  Let the fish move around and find your bait, otherwise you have to create the action by jigging.  Many of you fish from boats and the key for flounder is a slow drift, a very slow drift.  A few have been caught in the surf as well on mullet rigs and cut spot chunks.  Cape Henlopen pier has seen a few keepers as well from the flats, Lewes Canal and Roosevelt Inlet have been productive but slow for flatties.  Going out front to the Old Grounds is really your best bet, and you will need a boat or hit up a charter.  The season for summer flounder will be over eventually and as the water temps drop they will move.  Last year we were catching flatties until mid December in some areas.  We will see how conditions pan out this year.


stargazer, indian river bay, boat fishing indelware, DSF, delaware surf fishing
Stargazer caught in Indian River Bay by Kenneth Decker

Spot, croaker, and kingfish are still all over the place and the croaker are getting much bigger.  I have seen a lot of pictures of large croaker as far north as the yellow can.  Fishbites has been the best bait, but bloodworms, small sand fleas, and even small pieces of cut bait have worked well.  Some people have used shrimp or squid with decent results.  Massey’s Landing has produced a lot of croaker, and all of the inland bays are full of them.  Kingfish are much bigger this time of year and several of them make a great meal.  The inland bays have been rather alive this summer with fish, and clams, not so much with crabs.  The crabbing has still been off this year, but is slowly getting better towards the end of the season.  You just have to put in the time and you will catch a decent amount for a meal.  Clamming has been excellent at many places in the inland bays.  The usual spots are producing decent cherry stones up to the big chuckle heads.  I have a buddy who takes the big ones and freezes them in a broth he makes for the fall and winter fishing season.  Striped bass love them, and so do the ling cod that are abundant in November to January.  Nothing like a day at the beach in winter temperatures and weather.  Definitely not a shorts and Tee shirt kind of a day, but the fishing is fun regardless.

bluefish in surf, 3rs beach, drive on beach access, ddelaware seashore state park, DSF, delaware surf fishing
Ron “Jiggy Fins” Kyle with a bluefish in the surf

Bluefish have finally made an appearance in the surf and inland bays.  Jeff Sands, Jason Duncan, and their crew were catching six inch bluefish a few days ago in Cape Henlopen.  They said the tiny bluefish or bait stealers were wearing out whatever they tossed out there.  Some of the boys fishing in Dewey and 3R’s managed a few nice bluefish on mullet rigs.  Last week I fished with Ron “Jiggy Fins” Kyle and he hit a nice bluefish on a mullet rig with fresh mullet.  He also managed a nice flounder as well, glad I told him to grab some mullet that day.  I managed to get skunked, but spent part of the day teaching some of John’s buddies how to cast, and just hanging with the boys.  I didn’t go to the beach to fish, but to help out and spend time with some friends who in the light of their situations have made it a mission to enjoy life to the fullest.  John Morgan was in a electrical accident over 10 years ago and lost his left arm and a foot.  He has a rig he set up to hold his rod so he can reel in fish, and work the rod if need be for jigging or plugging.  Ron as you have heard before has stage four colon cancer.  Both of these men have been through more than most ever will, and yet are determined to live life the fullest.  Many people would just give up, or get lazy on disability, not these guys.  I admire these men for their perseverance and attitudes towards life in the face of uncertain odds.  They are truly and inspiration and it was a pleasure to fish with them and get them out in the sandbox.  Probably the best guide trip I have had thus far, and I look forward to seeing them again for some fall fishing.

take a kid fishing, DNREC, DSF, delaware surf fishing, beaches
Photo sent in by Liz Chalfant … Juli catching the big one! She has a blast fishing and can’t even walk yet! This is the best picture we have had sent in for kids fishing. Just for the fact it is probably the most adorable.

We have been receiving a lot of pictures of kids fishing, sent in to the DSF Facebook page by their proud parents.  Great to see the kids out there fishing and having fun in the sun.  DNREC is having a photo contest this year focused on kids and the outdoors …  “DOVER (Aug. 21, 2013)  With summer winding down and fall fishing weather just around the corner, there’s still plenty of time to take great photos of anglers enjoying the outdoors and submit them to the Division of Fish and Wildlife’s 2013 Delaware Fishing Photo Contest before the Oct. 15 deadline. The winning photo will be featured on the cover or inside of the 2014 Delaware Fishing Guide to be published in early 2014.A judging panel comprised of DNREC staff will be looking for photos that best portray this year’s contest theme, “Conservationists Enjoying the Outdoors.” Judges also will look at technical criteria including resolution, clarity and composition. “After the success of last year’s contest, we are hoping that once again photographers from all over the state will share some of their best images with us, so we can share them with the fishing public,” said Division of Fish and Wildlife Director David Saveikis. “This year we look forward to photos that catch the conservation actions of anglers as they enjoy our great outdoors.” 

croaker in the surf, Broadkill Beach, take a kid fishing
Photo from Chad Betts … his son Cohen age 3, has been doing well setting his own hook and reeling in his own fish this year on Broadkill Beach. Chad sets the sand spike low in the ground to give him a little help. Otherwise Cohen does it all on his own … good stuff …
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The contest is open to Delaware residents of all ages, with a maximum of three entries per person. To be eligible, photographs must have been taken in Delaware. Portrait orientation is preferred; landscape photos, if chosen among contest winners, may be cropped for presentation.
Entries may be mailed to the DNREC Division of Fish and Wildlife, Attention: Crystal Beck, 89 Kings Highway, Dover, DE 19901. All entries must be postmarked or delivered by Tuesday, Oct. 15, and must include a completed and signed entry form. A photo release form signed by a parent or guardian also is required if a minor child is in the photo. Information and forms are available on the Division’s website at Photo contest information, or Information also may be requested by calling Crystal Beck at 302-739-9911, or emailing 
Photos must be submitted as 8 x 10 paper or photo quality prints, with no frames or mats and no markings or signatures on the front or back. Winning entries must be available in a digital version with resolution of 300 dpi or greater. Normal processing of RAW image files, minimal cropping and minor adjustments to color and contrast are acceptable. HDR and focus stacking are permitted as long as manipulation is disclosed upon entry. Nothing should be added to the image or, aside from dust spots, taken away. The entrant must hold all rights to the photograph and must not infringe on the rights of any other person. Images that involve unlawful harm to fish or damage to the environment should not be submitted and will not be accepted. Entries will not be returned. “

flounder in surf, delaware surf fishing, DSF, 3rs beach access, delaware seashore state park
Ron “Jiggy Fins” Kyle with a flounder from the surf

Triggers and black sea bass have been decent.  The head boats out of Lewes, DE have been doing well in the Delaware bay at wrecks and the outer wall.  Striped bass slot season ends on August thirty first for the Delaware bay and its tributaries.  Meaning every area will be back to the twenty eight or above size limit and two per day.  That is another creel limit I think needs to be changed, in order to keep the numbers of striped bass out there up to par.  Drum fishing has been decent this past week.  Ron Capone has been banging them up at Massey’s Landing every time he is down there.  A few have been pulled from Indian River Inlet, and the inland bays.  There seems to be some confusion on creel limits regarding black drum or puppy drum.  The Delaware Bay and river has a size limit of sixteen inches and three fish per day for black drum.  The inland bays do not, that includes Indian River, Rehoboth, and Assawoman bays.  This limit does not effect the Lewes Canal either, even though it is considered a tributary from the train bridge to the Roosevelt inlet for striped bass slot limits.  That does not include black drum, since it is not part of the bay or the Delaware River.  Personally, if I am going to eat a black drum I will keep the smaller ones.  Ron Capone has been catching nineteen to twenty two inch drum.  These are the perfect size to eat.  Some folks complain they need to be released to get bigger.  When I fished with Captain Brian Wazlavek of Delaware Family Fishing on Outdoors Delmarva, I caught a fifty nine pound drum and released the fish.  For two reasons, one of them being those large fish are full of worms and they do not taste as good.  Secondly cleaning a fish that large is like gutting a deer, not a lot of fun in my opinion, and it is a lot of meat to try and eat before it goes bad, I prefer fresh fish not frozen.  Releasing the larger ones is a great practice and the smaller fish make the perfect meal.  The larger fish can keep the species’ numbers up and produce more little ones for the dinner table.  I think the same practice should be done with striped bass, let the cows go, and keep the smaller males.

sandbar shark, fishing for sharks from the surf in Delaware
Jimmy Kilfoil of DSU measuring the sandbar shark, and myself. The research team takes notes of each measurement. These sharks are not to be removed from the water without a permit.

The other night I met Alex and Lyda Stevens, Scott Jost, Ahhron Jost, Vic Minio, and the Baldwin family (no not the famous ones) on the beach for a little fishing.  We were going to catch and tag sand tiger sharks for Delaware State University.  I received that call a week ago and the previous weekend the weather was not good for a Saturday night in the surf.  This weekend we went for it despite the weather, predictions were supposed to be five knot winds, well, that was a bit off.  The winds were fifteen to twenty knots and the waves were cresting a good seven feet.  Not an easy task to get a kayak out there with bait, and we only had one chance early in the evening to take out baits.  We cast out baits as well, into the heavy winds.  The distance was not what we hoped, but in the past we have caught decent sized sand tigers right in the surf at night.  Eventually one of Alex’s reels screamed and we had a fish on, or so we thought it turned out to be our neighbor snagging the line.  The gear was till in the water and we would not be able to kayak anymore baits out,it was not safe.  Fishing is fun, and granted this was for research, but there is no reason to risk anyone’s safety to catch a shark.  The phrase work smarter not harder applies.  The winds would calm down a bit and tease us with the possibility of kayaking out more lines, and then that set of three heavy waves would come through and quickly dissolve those hopes.  When the reel screamed a second time, we knew this was a fish.  Alex started reeling it in and the research team was all set to tag this shark.  We were hoping for a sand tiger to tag with the acoustic transmitters the school uses to track their movements and collect data.  When the leader finally showed, Alex and I went to drag in the fish, but all we had was the other line.  It turns out the lines were jammed up form the shark moving all over the place and tangling the lines.  Fortunately the hook from the first line had the weight from the second line.  So we grabbed that leader and pulled in a four to five foot sandbar shark by hand.  Since the school had permits for these sharks as well, we were allowed to bring it in, otherwise they are not to be removed from the water.  After tagging this shark we re-baited all the surf rods and cast baits for the rest of the night, there would not be another kayak trip to take out baits.  If you have ever been on the ocean in a kayak in the dark you would know what I mean.  The swells were too fast and heavy, it was not safe.  We spent the rest of the night rod watching and wrapped in blankets to keep warm from the wet winds.  No sharks were caught the rest of the night, but it was still a good time in the surf trying to help the school.

Bargains on the Broadkill, DSF gear, DSF booth, events in Delaware
Pat Messerknecht and I in the DSF booth at Bargains on the Broadkill. She came by just to give me a bear hug for all the things DSF does for the community, I was flattered.

The back bays have seen abundant catches of puffers and small trout (weakfish).  Good to see both of these fish coming back n larger numbers.  Sheepshead are around the rock walls, burr fish, which look like a weird puffer are here as well, and have some cool colors and patterns.  Shorty striped bass and bluefish are all over the rock walls at Indian River Inlet and you can now go out front since the sand replenishment has been moved north.  The sand is really piled up near the walls and as soon as my allergies calm down I can get back out and about.  Fall fishing comes soon mon, and we are all eagerly awaiting crisp mornings on the beach, bays, rocks, rails, and piers.  Many feel this is the best time of year to fish, less crowds and larger fish, all in all it is still fishing.  I spent Saturday at the Bargains On the Broadkill with a booth set up full of DSF apparel, and I held a raffle for a nice surf rod and reel combo (Tica Rod/ Daiwa Reel valued at $330).  I appreciate everyone coming out, and I apologize if we were so busy you did not get a chance to pick up raffle tickets or chat.  I will have  a table at the Labor day celebration at Pot Nets Bayside on Sunday at 9 a.m. in Long Neck, DE.  The following weekend(9/6-9/8) I will be at the Milford River Walk .  It has been very exciting to meet so many people. I appreciate all of the kind words and that many people stopped by just to say thanks for all of the weather, traffic, fishing reports, lost pets, and photos on the Facebook page.  I like to try and keep everyone updated with what is going on in our communities.  Congratulations to Hank Bonk of Milton, DE the winner of our raffle this week.  I will have another raffle this weekend for a setup of equal quality and value.  Hope to see some of you out there.

Fish On!!

Rich King

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