By Eric Burnley Sr.*
Updated: August 27, 2015
DELAWARE BAY Flounder continue to lead the pack in the bay. Even with the sorry weather conditions over the last weekend, anglers managed to scratch up a catch at the reef sites. In addition, flounder were also caught in the upper bay at the Crossledge and Miah Maull Shoal. Please remember if you plan to fish on the New Jersey side of the bay you will need a New Jersey FIN and the minimum size over there is 18 inches.
Many of the flounder have been caught on bucktails or other types of jigs worked directly over hard structure at the reef sites. Most of these lures are decorated with a strip of squid or fresh fish or a Gulp! Nuclear Chicken. I still use a Delaware Bay Green Machine and Tsunami Ball Jig with the same baits.
Croaker made a good showing at the lower bay reef sites and in the tidal rivers and creeks. While the number of fish taken is down a bit, the size is much larger. Bloodworms top the bait list followed by clam, FishBites, squid and small pieces of cut fish.
Blues up to two pounds are beginning to make an appearance at the Outer Wall and the Ice Breakers. Most have been caught when they show up chasing bait on the surface. A small metal lure is the top attractor for these fish.
I suspect there are spadefish and sheepshead along the Outer and Inner walls as well as the Ice Breakers, but I have no reports of any caught last week. A small piece of peeler crab or a live sand flea should attract the sheepshead while tiny pieces of clam drifted back in a clam chum line should attract the spades.
White perch, catfish and slot rockfish have been caught along the shoreline from Reedy Point to Port Mahon. The tidal rivers and creeks hold the same fish. Bloodworms and cut bunker remain the top baits. Slot rock have also been caught alongside the three bridges in Lewes on live eels. The summer slot season will end on August 31.
INSHORE OCEAN The inshore lumps on out to the 30-Fathom Line continues to produce a few wahoo and dolphin. Big bluefish are also caught from the same area.
From reef sites 9 and 10 on out to the Old Grounds and Site 11 flounder fishing has been very good. The nasty weather over the weekend made fishing here difficult, but a return to better condition should bring the bite back to the top level. Jigging with a bucktail tipped with a strip of squid or fresh fish or Gulp! Nuclear Chicken has accounted for many big flounder. A few keeper sea bass have been caught along with the flounder.
Croaker have been caught from the Croaker Canyon on out to Site 10. These are the larger fish that have moved to the ocean to spawn. They will hit just about anything they can catch with bloodworms, clam and squid the most popular baits.
Blues and few Spanish mackerel have been caught on trolled spoons at Fenwick Shoal. Triggerfish are on the wrecks in the same location.
OFFSHORE OCEAN Marlin fishing should be very good this week after the northeast blow over the weekend. Look for yellowfin tuna in the Washington with overnight chunking or early morning trolling the best technique.
We have seen several swordfish taken in recent weeks. The last one we saw was caught over the weekend on a live croaker. Not exactly a normal food item on a swordfish diet, but whatever works.
Dolphin and wahoo are always in the offshore mix. Bailers may be found under anything that floats while most of the gaffers come on trolled baits or lures.
No new blueline tilefish record this week, but deep droppers are still catching tiles and other denizens of the 600 plus foot depths.
INDIAN RIVER INLET The inlet is attracting many more fishermen than fish. This is not unusual for late summer when the tourist season is in full bloom.
A few croaker have been pulled from the rocks on bloodworms and sand fleas, but better croaker action is just outside the inlet at the Croaker Canyon about two miles east of the Old Coast Guard Station. Expect to find a few flounder in the same area.
Flounder fishing at the inlet has been slow. A few decent fish have been caught on live spot, but for the most part the catch has consisted of shorts and the occasional keeper.
Live spot have also accounted for a few keeper rockfish. Rock have also been caught on live eels at night at the Coast Guard Station. Once again, short fish dominate the catch.
Blues to 20 inches pass through the inlet on incoming water. Metal lures and bucktails are the top bluefish catchers.
SURF FISHING Surf fishing continues to improve. Croaker and kings were caught on bloodworms at Savages Ditch/Conquest Road. With some luck, this action should spread up and down the beach as the days grow shorter.
FRESHWATER Did have a report of flathead catfish caught from the tidal portion of the Brandywine Creek in Wilmington. A few muskies were also taken from the same area. Not real sure what baits or lures are being used, but I would suspect live bait attract both species.
Pond fishing remains best in the early morning or late evening. No sign that we will have an early fall, so this pattern should remain for the next month at least.
Blue catfish have been caught out of the Nanticoke River and Broad Creek on cut bunker. Bass fishing in these same waters is usually best on a falling tide when jigs and crankbaits worked along hard structure is the best technique.
KEEP IT COLD As summer winds down most of us will want to put some fish away for the winter. The process of storing fish begins as soon as you catch them. Always have a cooler with plenty of ice on the boat or with you on shore to place the fish in as soon as it has been landed. This is a very important step and keeps the fish fresh until you clean or have it cleaned.
I only store filets. There is no reason to store a whole fish unless you have some special recipe you want to try. I find most people are not real happy if they have to pick the meat away from the bones or have a dead fish eye staring at them from the serving plate.
Once the fish is cleaned, I get out my vacuum sealing equipment. I use the FoodSaver system and it has served me well over the years. Not only does it seal fish, but I use it when I buy meat in bulk on sale saving money in the process.
The vacuum-packed fish will last at least a year, although I seldom keep it that long. With flounder regulations set to change in 2016 I hope to put up some of those fish for future consumption.
*Eric Burnley Sr. is a native Delawarean who has fished the waters of his home state for more than 60 years. He has been a full-time outdoor writer since 1978, with articles appearing in most national magazines as well as many regional publications. He has authored two books, Surf Fishing The Atlantic Coast and The Ultimate Guide To Catching Striped Bass.