Bluefish in the surf and flounder are on the move
The fishing has been hot the past week. There have been lots of croaker, kingfish, and spot all over the place in the surf. All of the beaches have seen catches in large numbers and decent sizes. Croaker have been thick in many areas of the back bays as well as kingfish. Spot are basically everywhere, and have been the choice bait for flounder at the Indian River Inlet.
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They have also been showing up in the surf, Lewes Canal, and Roosevelt Inlet. The bay beaches have seen a few nice flatties, striped bass (slot keepers), croakers, and kingfish in areas such as Beach Plum Island and Broadkill Beach. The inner and outer walls are heavy with tautog, striped bass, and trigger fish. Cusk Eels are till being caught in the surf and in numbers like no one has seen in a long time. Bluefish are finally showing up in the surf, mostly following large schools of bunker that have been moving around. A few nice sized catches have been pulled from the Indian River inlet. Fishbites and bloodworms have been the best baits for kingfish, croaker, and spot. Sand fleas and small fish chunks such as spot and mullet have also been working. Gulp is still good for flounder, and some weakfish. Speaking of weakfish, it is great to them making a comeback this year. Many small trout (spikes) are being caught in the surf and back bays. I have seen some very nice keeper sizes as well from the Delaware Bay beaches and inner wall areas. Redfish have been in the back bays and Indian River Inlet, we have even seen a few small ones caught in the surf here and there.
Massey’s Landing has been producing a variety of catches … flounder, spot, croaker, redfish, black puppy drum, and even a nice spade fish caught the other day. Clam and shrimp have been the choice baits. Fishbites, bloodworms, and sandfleas are doing okay but not as well as the clam or shrimp. Cape Henlopen pier has been heavy with spot and croaker. Small dogfish are popping up all of the time, and are all over the place as well. In fact it is hard not to catch one of them. I know it can be annoying to some to catch dogfish all of the time. Please be respectful of the creatures when you return them to the water. Throwing them far from the surf or high into the air from a pier is very detrimental to their survival. A good comparison would be throwing a person seventy feet into the air, and watching them slam into the water. Return your catches quickly and carefully, their survival could depend on that. Disorienting a fish from tossing it into the water can cause it to quickly become part of the food chain. Also when you are fishing in the surf, please reel the fish in close to the water’s edge. I see too many fish dragged up the beach because people are too lazy to walk to the water’s edge. The sand will wear their protective slime coating off and could choke their gills. If you are keeping the catch to eat or for bait, then I guess that is okay, but as far as catch and release, dragging fish across the sand is not good for them. The same goes for the rocks, rails, and piers, tossing a fish back from that high up, can stun or hurt them. Just some food for thought, so they do not become food for another fish.
The weather has been beautiful, and I have been in the surf for the past five days. We have been catching the usual spot, croaker, and kingfish. The other day large schools of fish started hitting the surface. Dave Eastburn and I grabbed rods with spoons and started tossing into the mix. Last week these schools were mostly shad, this week we were hammering bunker, and hoping for bluefish. Dave had a spot on a line, and when it was hit, he reeled in a fish head. The entire six inch spot was cut clean with a large bite mark and just the head was left. We knew he got smacked by a bluefish, and they were following the bunker schools. We chunked up a fresh bunker and got it ready to send out, if another school passed. Nothing came back by, but we sent the bait out anyway. Not long after that we all had to leave, and decided to try the next day. Same time, tide, and area. While we were fishing the surf, that morning Ron Capone was on Massey’s Pier catching all kinds of fish, but his catch of the day was a large spade fish on clam. We haven’t seen many of those yet this year. I have been taking Ron a few different places and showing him how and where to fish recently. Needless to say he has been having a blast on the water. Learning about different areas is fun, it allows an angler a more versatile fishing experience. New areas and new techniques are something we are always learning. I personally like discovering new fishing areas and techniques, I am always willing to learn. This is the only way to sharpen skills and further enjoy this great past time, aside from fishing constantly. Something many of us have the luxury to do on a daily basis.
The bite out front has been great for Bluefin tuna and Mahi mahi. The boats have been doing well on the chunk and the troll. That all depends on where you want to fish. I know a lot of guys that charter, or fish out there for fun. I never ask exact details on locations or what they have been using. Everyone has their own preference and techniques, however the Hambone and Hotdog ahve been the most popular spots. The baits are standard for the most part. The boys have been seeing lots of pilot whales and dolphin feeding out there. The Old Grounds and site ten have been hot for flounder, which are starting to migrate to the ocean. One of the reasons we are seeing larger and more frequent catches in the Indian River Inlet and the surf. Scott Jost went on a charter the other day with Captain Brian Wazlavek on the Lil angler II, for sharks. The boys did well, and Captain Brian wanted his grandson to catch his first shark. They were not disappointed when they hooked up several sand tiger sharks. They wanted a bull shark, but settled for the sand tigers. Since these are a prohibited species they very carefully released them. I have some information coming soon from Fish and Wildlife about shark fishing from the surf. Many people are beaching prohibited species, and that is not legal. I know the guide books are not clear on these rules, and I hope to alleviate that confusion. I spend a lot of time telling people they cannot beach prohibited sharks, or pose for pictures with them, and many just do not believe it is a rule. I will have that information soon. The other night I watched a few friends catch nearly a 10 foot sand tiger in the surf. These boys went knee to waist deep in the water to release the shark. Impressive to say the least, and exactly how it is supposed to be done. I have seen many do it wrong, and then brag about it online. I will have a better explanation coming soon with proper rules and techniques.
Well it has been a fun week, and I have had a blast meeting people. I probably handed out over three hundred stickers this past week on the beach. It was nice meeting all of you, I will apologize now if I can not remember all of your names. We did have some interesting catches this week. Ron Capone caught that nice spade fish at Massey’s landing. Joe Dangelo III caught a remora in the surf. We did see a few of these last year as well. Alex told me his shark fishing buddies in Florida will press the fish’s head to their chest and stick it there when they catch a remora. I thought that was interesting, but decided I would not want to decorate myself with fish. Besides we tend to smell enough like them at the end of the day. In Ocean City Maryland the other day a small humpback whale was spotted a mile from the beach in the ocean by Paradise Watersports. I am sure the para-sailor above the whale was freaking out a bit, that takes live lining to a whole new level. No worries, whales do not eat people, but it would still freak me out. Captain Chris Ragni caught a pie bald flounder, a mutation caused by …”Failure for the eye to migrate over because of a skull bone obstruction often causes piebald, anomalous colored portions to the body, head or tail.” source … Marine and Freshwater Products handbook. The best catch story this week was by Miss Taylor, she was fishing with her family in the ocean. When she was reeling in the flounder she caught, a shark hit the fish five feet from the boat. She only brought in half a flounder. Not a good catch to eat, but a story she will remember the rest of her life. You just never know what is going to happen in the water, unless you get out there, and experience it for yourself.