By Eric Burnley Sr.*
Updated: Sept. 21, 2017
DELAWARE BAY It has been a mixed bag of fish throughout the bay. White perch and catfish dominate the upper bay and lower river with the occasional rockfish caught in with the regulars. All the tidal creeks and rivers hold these fish as well as the shoreline from Claymont to Port Mahon. The submerged jetty at Augustine Beach saw a few keeper rockfish caught on peeler crab. Bloodworms and chunks of bunker have been responsible for most of the perch and catfish.
We have had reports of keeper flounder caught at the Flat Top, Bowers Beach and Miah Maull Shoal on minnows and squid. Croaker and a few keeper trout have also been caught in this area. Peeler crab, bloodworms and squid have been the best baits for the bottom fish.
The reef sites in the lower bay have seen croaker, blues, trout and flounder. Most of these fish are small, but keeper flounder and croaker have been taken. The usual baits, minnows, squid, peeler crab and Gulp! have all be productive.
The Inner and Outer walls, Ice Breakers and reef sites have seen triggerfish, sheepshead and croaker on clam baits. Toggling off the walls or anchoring over the reef sites has been the most productive technique.
The fishing pier on Cape Henlopen State Park has seen a couple of keeper flounder on most days along with croaker and small bluefish. On some days a run of decent-sized spot make an appearance. Minnows on a jighead jigged alongside the pier pilings has been the top technique for flounder. The croaker and trout will take bloodworms, clam or squid. The blues aren’t at all picky.
- ADVISORY: Summer Flounder Regulations: As of April 1, the minimum size for summer flounder in Delaware is 17 inches. The bag limit remains at four fish per day and the season runs for 365 days.
INSHORE OCEAN Between the hurricanes and tropical storms dancing around in the Atlantic it has not been a good time to fish in the ocean. Before the storms, black sea bass and flounder were caught at the Old Grounds and other ocean structure.
Once the seas settle down black sea bass season will be closed and we can only hope the flounder will still be around.
Last Friday afternoon Larry Weldin and I fished the Clammer Wreck and Reef Site 9. We marked all sorts of fish on the bottom, but only caught two 12-inch sea bass at the Clammer and two spike trout at Reef Site 9. The water was slick calm and I saw more bunker than I have ever seen in the ocean. I also saw a menhaden boat from Reedville, Virginia that had been working just outside the Three-Mile Limit.
We are seeing a few more croaker along the Buoy Line and they may take up the slack created by the closure of the sea bass season. False albacore and bonito plus the occasional small king mackerel have been caught by trolling along the Buoy Line from B to the Lightship. Spoons and bucktails will catch all of these fish.
OFFSHORE OCEAN When boats can make the long run they find wahoo, dolphin, tilefish and white marlin in the canyons.
INDIAN RIVER INLET Small bluefish continue to dominate the fishing here. They may be caught on small spoons or Stingsilvers with the rips by the bridge a good location.
I did not hear of any rockfish, sheepshead or triggerfish caught in recent days. They may have been caught, I just didn’t hear about it.
A few keeper flounder have been taken on minnows, Gulp! and squid in Indian River Bay. The operative word here is "few."
SURF FISHING Once the high seas from Jose subsided the little bluefish returned to the surf. My reports indicate folks were catching them two at a time on small bits of mullet.
FRESHWATER Pond fishermen are still catching bass on Senkos and Scum Frogs around structure such as Lily pads and blowdowns. The continued warm weather may delay these fish from moving to deeper water.
The upper reaches of the tidal rivers and creeks still produce perch, bass and a few crappie. These waters fish best when the tide is falling.
WEAR YOUR PFD I know I am always harping on this subject, every week when I get the DNREC Fish & Wildlife Natural Resources Police bBlotter there have been citations given for those who didn’t have enough PFDs on their boats and to others who didn’t have a PFD on a child under 12.
On the other hand, I am seeing more folks who do wear their PFDs while on the water. Most of these people are on the down side of 50, but at least I am getting through to my contemporaries.
I am seeing a lot more kayaks on the water and I must say the operators do wear their PFDs. My son Ric is the editor of Kayak Angler magazine and he has been instructed by his publisher not to run any photos unless the person is wearing their PFD. We need more of this to get across the idea that PFDs are an important part of boating safety.
*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.