Indian River Inlet – DSSP

Indian River Inlet

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Indian River Inlet before the new bridge.

The Indian River Inlet in the Delaware State Seashore Park (DSSP) is the undisputed heavyweight champion of places to fish for tidal species of fish in southern Delaware. Indian River Inlet offers direct access to the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian River Bay and Rehoboth Bay and offers an abundance of fishing opportunities.

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Indian River Inlet Anglers … Kevin Jones

Anglers take heed; the waters of the Indian River Inlet are among the most dangerous navigable waters on the east coast. Even seasoned boaters can run into trouble heading in or out of the inlet. Anglers who are shore bound should also beware of the tides and the large breakwater rocks that line both sides of the inlet. The north and south rocks also lead out directly into the ocean and are flanked by beaches. Fishing out on these points offer an excellent opportunity to catch large fish on both the incoming and outgoing tides. But be warned; fishing beyond the safety of the railing can be dangerous. We do not recommend the inexperienced or ill equipped chance their safety. These rocks get covered by the tide and become slippery and offer no light. At the very least anglers should have fishing spikes for their shoes, a LED head lamp, and a large net or gaff. I’ve seen striper anglers go out on the points wearing protective overalls and float-vests.

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Short bass at Indian River Inlet .. Dave Eastburn
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Fishing the rail at the Indian River Inlet notice the 40 inch Striped bass/Rockfish

Both the north and south sides of the inlet offer railings for anglers to fish from but fishing from the rocks below the railings offers the best chance to control and work your lures or bait rigs. At the time of writing this article, the existing Rt. 1 bridge is being replaced by a new advanced engineered bridge which is scheduled to be opened this December. One of the hottest places to fish in the Indian River Inlet is under either of these structures.

Throughout the spring, summer and fall bluefish can be targeted with relative ease as they follow the pods of baitfish around the inlet. The spring and fall striper runs bring healthy doses of 30-plus inch keeper “hogs”. While in season, Tautog (Tog or blackfish) are frequently caught close in by the rocks. Further back on the north side of the inlet is the Indian River Inlet Coast Guard station. The station lights illuminate the water and offers a premium spot for blue fish to be found. However, you’ll likely be competing for fishing room as this is a perennial favorite fishing spot. On the south side of the inlet back near the old campground holds flounder. It isn’t the easiest area to fish and often requires a boat to get on top of the fish, but when they work in closer to shore you can expect a keeper flounder.

Indian RIver Inlet, delaware, sussex county
Indian River Inlet
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The North wall of The Indian River Inlet

The best baits for the inlet flounder are live spot, mullet, or bullhead minnows although several people have had success with white and pink Gulp! minnows. If bluefish are your target try casting anything that is shiny, particularly large spoons trailing a white and red rooster tail. Chunked bunker and squid often work as well however these blues are likely chasing the shad that run into the bay. For stripers we highly recommend the tried and true white bucktail jig. The heavier the better as the inlet waters will quickly move the lure with the tide and could wrap you up in the rocks.

The Take Away

Regardless of what fish you are targeting be prepared to lose tackle. Losing your tackle in the Indian River Inlet is all just part of fishing there. With the numerous rocks that line the inlet and any loose debris floating with the tide nobody is immune to losing at least one rig per trip out.