Cape Gazette
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Outdoors

Blowfish have invaded the surf

By Eric Burnley | May 04, 2013
Photo by: Eric Burnley The author shows off a spring flounder.

Considering the weather, fishing has been pretty good for several species. Blowfish have invaded the surf from Cape Henlopen to Fenwick Island and may be caught on small pieces of bloodworm or clam. Be sure to use a Chestertown-style hook as these fish have small mouths and sharp teeth.

Keeper rockfish and a fair number of shorts have also come from the beach. Most of the keepers have been caught on chunks of fresh bunker or clam. The shorts and a few keepers were taken on bloodworms.

Black drum are another species making their way to the surf. Broadkill Beach has seen several drum to 30 pounds, and a few have also been caught along the ocean. Clam is the best bait for drum.

Those who travel to Virginia will find red drum to 50 inches in the surf along the barrier islands and on the shoals between Smith and Fisherman’s islands. My son Ric had at least six big drum on his boat over the weekend. A whole or half of a blue crab has been the top bait.

Flounder made an appearance in the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal with several limit catches caught. Chartreuse was the hot color with shiners the top bait. The action has not been hot and heavy, but those who work the outgoing tide find quality fish willing to bite. Keep in mind the minimum size is 18 inches.

Flounder were also caught from the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier.

Here too the bite was a little slow with keepers caught on the falling tide. The same was true at the VFW Slough in Indian River Bay.

Tog were caught around the Outer Wall when seas allowed boats to toggle off. Green crab has been the top bait.

The rocks at Indian River Inlet produced keeper tog on the same bait.

The full moon current slowed the tog bite in the ocean. We were out Saturday on the Bandit, and while a few limits were boxed, the average catch was one or two fish, and some of us failed to catch a keeper. Tog season ends Saturday, May 11, so this will be the last week, and I hope to fish aboard the Bandit on Saturday.

Spring flounder

Catching spring flounder can be a bit tricky.

If you have only fished in the summer over structure in the bay or ocean you will be at the bottom of the learning curve. In the spring, flounder are found in shallow water over mud or sand bottom. That nice 24-foot deep-vee boat that served you so well in the summer will be at a definite disadvantage in spring. A small, shallow-draft boat is best for fishing the narrow waterways during the spring.

Tide and wind play an important role in all fishing situations, and in the spring you want a light south breeze and a falling tide. Clean water is another good thing, although this does not seem as critical here as it does along the Eastern Shore of Virginia.

The number of sure-fire flounder rigs is surpassed only by the number of anglers who actually believe there is such a thing as a sure-fire flounder rig. I like to fish a single hook with a live minnow and little or no weight when the water depth is less than 10 feet. The minnow will head for the bottom and the fact that the bait is free swimming seems to attract flounder. My largest flounder to date, an eight-pounder, was caught in Indian River Bay on an unweighted live minnow. I have had equal success in the Broadkill River, Lewes and Rehoboth Canal, and in the shallow water close to Broadkill and Lewes beaches.

My friend Bob Baker makes a top-bottom flounder rig that is very good in shallow water. It carries a small lead head on the top and a single hook decorated with hair and spinner blades on the bottom. Shiners go on the top hook and a live minnow with a strip of squid is the bait on the bottom hook. Local tackle shops stock similar rigs.

I like to arrive at the ramp about an hour before high tide. I can fish the upper reaches of the Broadkill River or the flats at Indian River Bay until the tide turns. Once the water begins to run out, the fish will move to creek mouths, channels and other ambush locations to feed on bait coming down on the falling water.

Spring is the time for small boaters to put some decent-size filets in the freezer before the large fish move out to the deeper water in the bay and ocean.

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