By Eric Burnley Sr.*
Updated: Oct. 20, 2016
DELAWARE BAY We had some nice weather during the week, but to no one’s great surprise, the weekend looks very windy. Add to the wind a 20- to 30-degree drop in temperature and I think we will have an entirely different fishery by next week.
One thing that should remain constant is the white perch action in the Upper Bay and in all the tidal creeks and rivers. These fish are available all year and have been caught under the ice. Right now bloodworms will be the best bait.
We have seen catfish over seven pounds caught in the past few week with most coming from the Upper Bay. Chicken livers seem to be a popular bait along with cut bunker.
Tog have been caught over Mid-Bay wrecks and reefs, but not in any great numbers. The same has been true in the Lower Bay where anglers are working the Outer Wall and the Ice Breakers. Baits for tog are pretty standard, sand fleas and crab.
The fishing pier at Cape Henlopen State Park has seen some bluefish and flounder. Neither has been abundant and both will take fresh or live mullet.
INSHORE OCEAN Not many reports from here as most captains are waiting for sea bass season to reopen. That will happen Saturday, Oct. 22 when the marine forecast calls for gale-force northwest winds. So what else is new?.
OFFSHORE OCEAN To the best of my knowledge, tuna are still in the canyons with yellowfin the leading candidate. At this time of year the fish can be there one day and gone the next.
INDIAN RIVER INLET Small blues and rockfish have been caught on incoming water. Metal lures work best for the blues while the rock will hit them as well as white bucktails with plastic white worms.
Sand fleas fished in the rocks will draw in tog. Most of these fish are on the small side, but there are keepers in the mix.
SURF FISHING Small blues will take fresh mullet, but bites are few and far between. There is a possibility of connecting with a puppy drum or a flounder, but the odds are not in your favor.
FRESHWATER The water has gone down in the ponds so there should be some bass caught this weekend. The usual crankbaits and jigs will be used along with live shiners and minnows.
The White Clay Creek has been well stocked with trout and with fishing pressure light this is a good time to enjoy not only catching fish but looking at the beautiful foliage.
Bass action in the upper reaches of the tidal rivers and creeks should also improve as the water clears and the fish begin stocking up for the winter. Working the shoreline and any structure such as downed trees on a falling tide with jigs and crankbaits will produce good results.
SEA BASS Sea bass season opens this Saturday, but if the current forecast holds, I don’t think we will see many boats heading out into the ocean. Something about 40-knot winds and 9-foot seas that take all the enjoyment out of a fishing trip.
Sooner or later we will get some decent weather and the sea bass will still be there waiting to be caught. These fish like structure and are found tight to reef sites and wrecks. The Old Grounds will also attract sea bass, but here they are spread out over a larger area.
Anchoring up over the structure is a good idea because it allows the angler to keep his bait in the strike zone for a longer period of time. There are two choices if you decide to set the anchor.
The first thing you have to do is find the structure and mark it with a float. If you want to use a wreck anchor run past the wreck and drop it over. With any luck the rebar will grab ahold of something and keep the boat in place. Do not pull the anchor rode up so the line is at a 90-Degree angle to the water. Give yourself some angle to the water because the boat needs the ability to move up and down with the seas. If the bow is held down when a big sea hits, the wave will come over the bow and could sink the boat.
The second anchoring technique allows the boat plenty of rode which is good, but this also allows the boat much move movement on the wreck which can be bad. You set the Danforth or other anchor type by beginning at the float you set over the wreck. Run slowly into the wind and current until the boat is at least 300 feet from the float. Now run the reciprocal course back towards the float and set the anchor a couple hundred feet away from the structure. The theory is the wind and current will move the boat back over the wreck.
Under no circumstances do you ever set the anchor from the stern. This will lead to you sinking the boat when a big sea breaks over the stern. DON’T DO THAT!
Catching sea bass is usually easier than setting the anchor. They will eat pretty much anything so squid or clam will both catch these fish. Remember, the biggest fish bite first so if you get to your secret spot and start out catching shorts your secret spot is no longer secret.
*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.