By Eric Burnley Sr.*
Updated: Aug. 25, 2016
DELAWARE BAY My reports indicate the slot-rock season has not produced many keepers for the past few weeks. Those that have been caught came from deeper water at locations such as the Pipes, Bull Pen, 6L and the Yellow Can. Chunks of bunker have been the top bait.
White perch and catfish are still being caught from the piers along the C&D Canal, Augustine Beach, the pier at Woodland Beach and in all the tidal creeks and rivers. Bloodworms will catch both species while bunker chunks and chicken livers appeal to the catfish.
Flounder fishing has improved at bay reef sites. The best catches have been made by anglers who jig with bucktails tipped with Gulp!, squid or cut bait. It is critical for the captain to keep the boat directly over hard structure so his anglers can keep their baits in the strike zone as long as possible.
Small bottomfish are also close to reef site structure. Croaker, kings, blowfish and small trout have been caught here by folks using bloodworms, clam and squid. I had one report of croaker in the 12-inch range, but I have yet to see any of that size.
Snapper bluefish are in the lower bay and can be found feeding on small baits under diving birds. I have seen a fair number of limit catches made by casting metal lures or bucktails to these fish. The south end of the Outer Wall is one location where these blues hang out.
The Outer Wall and the Ice Breakers hold spadefish and sheepshead. The sheepshead like a sand flea or two on a hook fished tight to the rocks. Spadefish will feed away from the structure and may be tempted by small bits of clam. I must say spades will drive you nuts because of their unpredictable behavior. You may see thousands of them milling around on the surface, but unwilling to take a bait. Move away from that spot and keep looking until you find a school that is more cooperative.
The fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park has seen small croaker and spot caught on bloodworms. The majority of flounder taken from the pier are not large enough to keep.
The Lewes and Rehoboth Canal is giving up small croaker and spot. Bloodworms make the best bait. No report of keeper flounder taken from there this week.
INSHORE OCEAN Dolphin and wahoo have been caught over the inshore lumps on trolled lures and baits. Dolphin have been seen as close to shore as B Buoy so all you flounder pounders should keep a spinning rod rigged and ready should one or two stop by your boat. I suggest a small bucktail with some sort of added attraction. If you get lucky and a school happens by, cut up some type of bait and toss the pieces out to hold the fish’s attention.
It was a very good weekend for Tony Munoz who took home $50,000 for an 11.93-pound flounder he caught while entered in the Flounder Pounder Tournament out of Paradise Grill in Long Neck. The fish was caught on a dead minnow at the Old Grounds and it was only the third flounder Tony has ever caught.
Flounder fishing has been very good at reef sites nine, ten and eleven, the Old Grounds and the rough bottom near A and B buoys. Many limit catches have been made on jigs tipped with Gulp!, squid or strips of fresh cut fish. Live minnows and squid strips fished on a Delaware Bay Green Machine have also accounted for some of these flounder.
On Wednesday I fished with Larry Weldin and Taylor Deemer on Larry’s boat. We started at the Old Grounds and had decent action on incoming water. When the water began to move out we lost our drift. We then moved to 90 feet of water west of A Buoy where we had a good bite of black sea bass. We ended the day with seven flounder to four pounds and seven sea bass in the box. Bait was Gulp!, squid or cut sea robin on a Delaware Bay Green Machine.
Another set up that has worked for me is a Delaware Bay Green Machine baited with a minnow and strip of squid and instead of a regular sinker I use a Tsunami Ball Jig baited with a strip of squid or Gulp! as my weight. This rig is very effective over a relatively smooth bottom, but will quickly attach itself to hard structure because the ball jig works with the hook swinging loose and pointed towards the bottom.
Inshore wrecks hold flounder, triggerfish and porgies. Clams make a good bait for the triggerfish and porgies while the flounder will take a jig baited with Gulp! or strips of squid.
Fenwick Shoal continues to give up snapper blues to trolled spoons. Pull #0 drone spoons behind a trolling sinker or #1 planer and use a 30-foot leader made from 15-pound fishing line between the lure and the weight.
OFFSHORE OCEAN Fishing was a little on the slow side after the White Marlin Open. Very few billfish were caught along with a few tuna and dolphin. I would expect to see better action now that we have passed the full moon. The pressure will also be greater with the Mid-Atlantic Tournament running from Cape May and Ocean City.
I got to take advantage of a last-minute offshore opportunity Thursday on the Brenda Lou with Capt. Frank Goodheart out of Sunset Marina in Ocean City. A little luck was with us – went three for three on white marlin in the Wilmington Canyon.
INDIAN RIVER INLET Flounder fishing continues to improve with more keepers taken from the Inlet and Massey’s Ditch. Live minnows, spot or mullet have produced most of the keepers.
Had reports of larger croaker caught from the Inlet on bloodworms, sand fleas or squid. A few triggerfish and sheepshead are also in the mix on sand fleas.
SURF FISHING Kings along with small croaker and trout are close in just behind the breakers. Bloodworms will take all three.
FRESHWATER The water in Red Mill Pond is green. I suspect this has been caused by the very warm water acting with the high level of bacteria and fertilizer that washes into the pond on a regular basis. In my travels I have noticed other ponds in Sussex County in worse shape with large amounts of what I call pond scum floating on top. I would recommend fishing in the tidal rivers or spillways where the moving water is reasonably clean.
PLEASE BE SAFE There have been a rash of boating accidents in the past few weeks. Some are more like a fender-bender on the highway white others have had tragic results.
A businessman from Dover was lost when the boat he was in capsized near Rock Hall, Md. As I understand the situation, he and two others were out in the Chesapeake Bay when a sudden storm came up. Fortunately, the two others were saved, but they didn’t find the victim until it was too late. He was not wearing his PFD. In Florida a small child was saved because she was wearing her PFD. The boat overturned trapping the child under the cabin in an air pocket. The PFD kept her alive until help arrived.
In Ocean City, Md. an 11-year-old boy was lost when he fell off of the bow of a pontoon boat and the prop struck him. Another boy was seriously injured. Almost every time I go out in the summer I will see kids riding on the bow of a boat with their legs dangling over the side. I know most of us probably did this when we were kids and thought it was fun. Please don’t let the kids or adults on your boat make the same mistakes we did as kids.
*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 three books, Surf Fishing The Atlantic Coast ,The Ultimate Guide To Catching Striped Bass and Fishing Saltwater Baits.