By Eric Burnley Sr.*
Updated: Sept. 3, 2015
DELAWARE BAY Flounder have been caught as far up the bay as the Crossover and the 34 and 32 buoys. Reef sites down the bay to Eight have also produced flounder for anglers who jig with bucktails tipped with Gulp!, strips of squid or fresh fish or shiners. Please remember that on the New Jersey side of the bay the minimum size for flounder is 18 inches and you must have a New Jersey FIN.
Croaker are staging at the mouth of the bay before moving to the ocean to spawn. Reef Site Eight held a good supply to the extent that flounder baits were destroyed by the ravenous beasts. One of the better croaker locations in the past has been around the Eights during the September run. Squid, clam, Gulp!, FishBites and cut fresh fish all attract croaker.
We have reports of small blues chasing rain bait at the Outer Wall and the Ice Breakers. Small metal lures such as the Deadly Dick will work very well on these fish.
In the lower Delaware River, the upper bay and in the tidal creeks and rivers white perch and catfish have been caught in good numbers. Fishing along Route 9 in New Castle County is a popular method for catching these fish. Bloodworms, cut bunker and chicken livers are popular baits.
INSHORE OCEAN False albacore, bonito, big blues and the occasional dolphin have been caught from the Delaware Bay Lightship on out to the 30-Fathom Line. Work along depth changes at the Hot Dog, Hambone and Chicken Bone with feathers and spoons.
Flounder fishing remains very good at the Old Grounds, reef sites 10 and 11 and over rough bottom near B Buoy. When conditions permit, jigging with a bucktail tipped with Gulp!, strips of fresh fish or squid or shiners has been very effective.
Croaker are now available in the ocean at the Croaker Canyon, Reef Site 10 and the rough bottom near B Buoy. Once you locate a concentration try to stay with them as long as possible. Cut pieces of fresh fish seems to attract the larger croaker, but the old standbys squid and clams will also work.
OFFSHORE OCEAN Looks like Saturday will be a bit bumpy in the ocean, but once the northeast wind settles down the marlin fishing should be great. We already have reports of double digit releases from last week and this will only get better. Live baiting with tinker mackerel has become more popular and once mastered can produce release numbers in the twenty-plus range.
Bigeye tuna were caught at the Washington and Baltimore canyons. The best of this action has been from dusk to dark and then from dark to dawn. Trolling with Joe Shute lures and horse ballyhoo has been a successful technique.
Yellowfin tuna have been caught at the Washington Canyon with chunking the top producer. Dolphin are pretty much under anything that floats. Wahoo are in good supply as well.
INDIAN RIVER INLET Fishing has not improved here as we enter September. I do think that once the mullet run begins we will see much better action from rockfish, blues and flounder.
Short rock have been caught after dark on eels at the Coast Guard Station. Sand fleas drifted in the rocks have also produced the occasional striper. The vast majority of these fish are shorts.
Bigger but fewer croaker were caught out of the rocks on bloodworms or sand fleas. Better croaker action was found just off the Old Coast Guard station at the Croaker Canyon.
Small croaker and spot have been caught on bloodworms out of Indian River and Rehoboth bays. Small flounder with a few keepers have come from the same waters.
SURF FISHING The surf remains slow with the occasional croaker and kingfish taken. Once the mullet run begins we should see some blues in the mix. And then there's the welcome embrace of an old fishing friend, the reopened Cape Henlopen Pier.
FRESHWATER Pond fishing remains a low light proposition. Early and late day trips produce bass on surface lures, crankbaits and soft plastics.
The Nanticoke River and Broad Creek have produced a mixed bag of bass, catfish and perch. The shoreline at Phillips Landing and the fishing pier at the end of Broad Creek in Laurel provide good shore access to these waters
BAIT COOLER Last week we talked about keeping the fish you catch fresh until they are cleaned and then how to freeze them for future meals. This week let’s look at ways to keep your bait fresh.
Fresh bait is often the difference between catching and not catching fish. When you cut up squid or baitfish what do you do with the excess? Do you leave it on the bait board to dry out? Do you put it in the fish cooler where it gets tossed about when a fresh caught fish is added? I used to do both of these things until I began carrying a small cooler just for my bait.
I must credit Bob Baker for showing me this trick that I should have figured out years ago. He keeps two bait coolers on his boat, one for himself and one for his guest. Each has a cooler ice pack and a small container for a half-dozen minnows. Other small containers hold squid strips, shiners or whatever bait he feels will find favor with the flounder. The little coolers are kept close to the angler so he or she can rebait without bothering the other fishermen on the boat.
I have an old Coleman lunch cooler that I have been using to keep my bait fresh. It fits easily at my feet on my boat and I can carry it onboard a head boat by placing it in my fish cooler.
This is a really simple solution to a fishing predicament we all share.
*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.