Fly fishing rod

Bluefish finally in town; plaice pick up action

If you haven’t gone out, we can cut the air with a butter knife now. Summer is in full swing. No one detonated anything last week except the blue fish! Yeah buddy, the blues are finally in town, only four weeks late. Had to visit Elvis with the pompano, who is still late to show up. These captures have also just started, but slow and random on the southern beaches. Tautog season started on July 1 and some fishermen are doing well on the harbor walls of refuge.

The plaice action at Cape Henlopen Pier picks up a bit more. Fish are a bit bigger and hit Gulp, or minnows on fluke platforms (single flounder platform), or jigging bucktails with or without Gulp. The action of the Inland Bays plaice and the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal has been decent for the area. The hardest part of the Inland Bays is finding a place to fish on the weekends. The sandbanks have taken over the bays, and this usually pushes the fish elsewhere. All of these bars are above the mussel beds, which are now buried and gone. Not only a food source for fish, but also a reef-like structure for all kinds of life and a natural filter for the waters.

The action of plaice off and in Delaware Bay is good on wrecks and reefs, but most anglers focus on bass. This action has been hot on the good days. The weather cooperated for the boats almost every day. Tropical Storm Elsa hit overnight and is gone. Nothing like sleeping during a storm while phones explode at midnight with tornado alerts.

Spot is hot at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier. Despite the lack of bloodworms due to supply issues cut off by Tropical Storm Elsa, anglers were killing it with Fishbites bloodworms. The other flavors of Fishbites, Crab and Sand Flea, work well too. Orange colors help mimic sand flea eggs. A Sabiki platform is also ideal for the spot. Does not require bait as the small hooks, six in number, are mounted with a small flash to attract the bite. You are allowed to use Sabiki rigs in Delaware for baitfish; spot are not only good for the table but killer for the bait. We like to catch small spots and then line them up live for plaice around the interior bays and pier. This is one of the reasons there are more plaice around these areas; spot is a good source of food.

Croaker’s action has resumed around Delaware Bay. The pier at Bowers Beach was hot last weekend. It’s good to see the croaker appear in numbers this year.

Striped bass fishing has changed in Delaware Bay for the summer. Now is the summer slot season for the striped bass. The slot limit for Delaware Bay and its tributaries is 20 to 25 inches and two fish per angler per day. The season lasts from July 1 to August 31.

The only problem some fishermen face, just like the striped bass season in the EEZ, is processing these fish in waters where they are not legal. For example, if you fish the Lewes-Rehoboth Canal and then run to the Inland Bays on your boat, you are now in possession of illegal striped bass.

The tributaries of Delaware Bay are just that – any waterway that flows into Delaware Bay. The Lewes-Rehoboth Canal is also a tributary of Delaware Bay. Retention of the split-sized striped bass is only legal from the Freeman Highway Bridge in Roosevelt Inlet. Yes, we think it is strange that the entire canal is not a tributary like the rest of the tributaries. Canary Creek, Broadkill River, Mispillion River, Murderkill River, etc. are all tributaries. All of Delaware Bay is under this slot season. These are the best size striped bass to eat, in my opinion. Unfortunately, indoor bays are not part of the summer Delaware Striped Bass slot season. I wish that would change. It’s not like it’s a huge body of water, but the fishing is pretty good for Short Striped Bass. There are even Guardian Striped Bass caught around Ocean City’s interior bays and bridges.

Sport fishing at sea was on fire for the Ocean City Tuna Tournament. Lots of fish came to the scales. Apparently the IRS caught a lot of fish before they reached the boat. Who is the taxman? Sharks will eat your catch during retrieval. It is the “tax” for fishing there or anywhere. The ocean is a violent environment; one minute you are feeding and the next you are food. Fish on a coiled line are distressed and an easy target for predators.

Offshore fishermen also catch the IRS, along with tilefish, billfish and the usual suspects.

Support your local tackle stores and tackle makers. DS Custom Tackle is a local manufacturer of quality fishing tackle. They use better components than your typical “cheap” equipment. It may cost a few cents more, but you are helping pay an American to work. Everyone always says they buy American; here is your chance.

The crab and clams have been excellent in the inner berries. It is strongly recommended to keep your shellfish cool after fishing them. At this time of year bacteria can be a problem and hot seashells will explode with bacteria. We also have problems with vibrios at the end of the summer. Keeping shellfish cool will keep bacteria levels low until it’s time to eat.

Freshwater fishing has been excellent for bass fishermen around the ponds in the area. Catfish are hitting a lot harder now that they are no longer spawning. Fly fishing for the smaller pond fish was fun. Fly fishermen do well in flat areas for croakers and the like. Discover the Saltwater Fly Anglers of Delaware club. They are based in Lewes and meet monthly – a great club. Probably a few hundred years of knowledge. They also meet at the Cape Henlopen fishing pier every two weeks and fish the apartments as a group.

“Fleaing” for striped bass at night is a blast. Go to Indian River Inlet at night and settle in the darker areas. Get about half of a five gallon bucket of sand fleas. Put one on a circular hook of four to six rings without weight. Throw a few sand fleas into the water, then cast your line in the same spot. The Short Striped Bass will feed like pigeons or seagulls on those fleas you have thrown away and then strike yours as well. Hold your cane securely if you are using light equipment; they hit hard and it’s a lot of fun. You have now fallen for the striped bass.

By the way, you can eat sand fleas; they are delicious. We will come back to this next week.

See you soon in the sandbox.

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