You Don’t Have To Look Too Far To Find Fish In The Surf In Delaware

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The ledge is in the bottom of the picture .. photo by Robby Brown

Being able to read the beach is key to help find fish, but fish swim, and can be found up and down the beaches. We have a unique set of beaches, they are not like other beaches. The Delaware beaches break close to shore and the fish are right there in the “wash”. We call it the wash because it is the area where the water washes back out and stirs up the sand at the ledge or drop off. When you walk into the ocean here you will step off a ledge, and in some spots it is foot drop and others it is taller.

how to fish the beach in Delaware, the ledge in the surf, surf fishing, delaware, sussex county, reading the beach, the wash, sand fleas,
You can see the drop off when the water washes up the beach. photo by Robby Brown

That is where the fish are hanging out and that area is not that far off, just behind the breaking waves. In the pictures and videos Robby Brown took at Fenwick Island (the town not the park) you can see this area clearly and why it is where fish would congregate for feeding. The sand is all stirred up releasing critters into the water column, especially sand fleas. The sand also confuses the same fish that are feeding and larger predator fish will hunt them. The food chain in motion.

how to fish the beach in Delaware, the ledge in the surf, surf fishing, delaware, sussex county, reading the beach, the wash, sand fleas,
The sand stirred up in the “wash” area this is when you see sand fleas following the water back towards the ledge .. photo by Robby Brown

Ever notice people who don’t cast that far catch more fish. No offense ladies, but the reason you tend to out fish the men is you don’t cast as far. For some reason, as soon as we get to the edge and rip that rod, we want to “send it” a country mile. Casting over the fish and out where the “trash” fish hang out. The other reason fish stay closer to that ledge is structure for protection. Being in the open ocean makes one more of a target for predators.

how to fish the beach in Delaware, the ledge in the surf, surf fishing, delaware, sussex county, reading the beach, the wash, sand fleas,
The ledge when the wave is fully across it and washing up the beach … photo by Robby Brown

We always say fish a line out far, in close and somewhere in between. Most of the time you’re “in close” rod will catch the most fish. Now there is is structure out front like sand bars and what not that form rips to fish as well. They are either close or so far out you do have to cast a country mile. Reading the water for structure is tougher here because it is so subtle. You will find scour holes created by objects in the water on the bottom. You have to look for changes in currents and rips to find these. Dragging a heavy weight across the bottom helps you “feel” the structure in front of you and find holes.

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Reading the beach at Cape Henlopen State Park after a storm these pronounced cuts are farther up on the beach.

Cuts are deeper than the surrounding area and where you will find fish congregating for food. Rip currents are the most extreme example of a cut. When the water drains off the beach after washing up and over the sand bars it washes back out from the trough. Pulling water with it and creating a “cut” in the sand for the water to drain. You see these after storms, carved into the beach face or profile. That is where you want to fish. You can see the plume of sand as it gets washed out into the water. The rougher the water, the more extreme the cuts will look. High tide is the easiest time to find them they are more pronounced than at low tide.

how to fish the beach in Delaware, the ledge in the surf, surf fishing, delaware, sussex county, reading the beach, the wash, sand fleas,
The ledge when the wave is fully across it and washing up the beach … photo by Robby Brown

Next time you are at the beach or can go when there is less of a crowd, sit back and look up and down the beach and you can see these areas. It just takes some getting used to and you will be able to find and catch more fish. Cuts tend to stay in the same areas too, even after storms, so if you find a good one that produces, remember where it was for that weekend trip. This is why there are spots on all of the beaches that are more popular to fish than others. Some of us may or may not have these cuts on GPS, we used to just mark the dune fence or remember the background. “Meet me at the cut in front of the 14th pole south of the tower, where we caught those fish that day.”
No that spot doesn’t exist.

Fish On!
Rich King

how to fish the beach in Delaware, the ledge in the surf, surf fishing, delaware, sussex county, reading the beach, the wash, sand fleas,
As the water washes back down the beach is stirs up the sand and pushes it out over the ledge loaded with food for fish … photo by Robby Brown
how to fish the beach in Delaware, the ledge in the surf, surf fishing, delaware, sussex county, reading the beach, the wash, sand fleas,
As the water washes back down the beach is stirs up the sand and pushes it out over the ledge loaded with food for fish … photo by Robby Brown
how to fish the beach in Delaware, the ledge in the surf, surf fishing, delaware, sussex county, reading the beach, the wash, sand fleas,
You can see the drop off when the water washes up the beach. photo by Robby Brown
how to fish the beach in Delaware, the ledge in the surf, surf fishing, delaware, sussex county, reading the beach, the wash, sand fleas,
When the water recedes and hits the incoming wave it stirs up the surf just above the ledge

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