Thu., July 24, 2014
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Delaware Bay Report

Report from Tuesday, July 22.

| Port Elizabeth | Newport | Fortescue | Cape May | Last Week's Report |
THIS REPORT IS UPDATED EVERY TUESDAY
Port Elizabeth
Summer flounder fishing seemed to slow a little during the weekend, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. But sometimes wind blew against tide, preventing boats from drifting effectively for the fishing, and sometimes seas were rough in strong wind, and sometimes boats drifted too quickly. Until the weekend, customers were especially pleased with the fishing, or happy with the numbers of fish, and the keepers bagged. Maybe the slow-down was only a lull, but anglers will see. Flounder were still caught, and probably will be. Croakers were boated around the bay, and nothing was heard about weakfish. Sharon joined a trip on Dividing Creek where she usually lands croakers and weaks, but the fishing was slow. One blackfish could be kept starting Thursday, and nothing was heard about fishing for the tautog. No green crabs are stocked for bait for them, because they’re never in demand in the one-fish limit. For customers who crabbed, some scored alright on the blueclaws, and others not so good, for unknown reasons. Commercial crabbing picked up, but wasn’t good as expected. Plenty of minnows are stocked. Shedder crabs are carried here and there when available, and when commercial crabbing is slower, the shedder supply is, too. The Girls Place, located on Route 47, just after Route 55 ends, carries a large supply of bait and tackle, and is the long, one-story, yellow building on the right. It’s on the way to the bay.

Newport
All trips boated crabs during the weekend at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Linda said. Results varied entirely, like six or seven keepers for one crabber to a trip that busheled out. Everybody seemed to catch dinner, and inexperienced crabbers are always more challenged to put together a catch than experienced are. The shop loves to teach crabbing, when customers want. The sizes of crabs was creeping up as the season went on. Linda thinks that when the blueclaws shed next, that will really start to make a difference in sizes. Customers who fished continued to hook croakers like before. One reeled in a keeper striped bass. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. The staff checks on them every hour, and if customers want a break in the meantime, they simply cell phone the shop to be picked up. Nine days remain for law enforcement workers to get a 25-percent discount on the rental of any size boat this month. That’s because law enforcement won a crabbing contest between them and emergency workers during Fourth of July week. Linda expects to think of another special to run, now that this one is ending, and the law enforcement vs. emergency workers contest will probably be held again in the future. Take advantage of the Frequent Crabber Card: Rent any size boat four times during the season, and get the fifth trip for only $20 that season. A 7-inch crab, trapped during the shop’s first day of crabbing this year, is the one to beat in the season-long contest for the biggest. The rental-boater with the largest will win a free rental next year. Rental kayaks and canoes are available to paddle the scenic creek. Beaver Dam hosts groups like scouts, birthday parties and family reunions, and can offer an educational day about the environment. Cumberland County 4H will hold a camp at Beaver Dam in late August, and space remains, and contact the 4H if interested. Minnows are still stocked, and they’re bigger than nearly anywhere, because the shop raises them. Anglers are raving about the catches on the baitfish, including flounder. Minnows are the favorite flounder bait. Visit Beaver Dam’s Web site.

Fortescue
Conditions weren’t great for summer flounder fishing around the weekend, including wind, rough seas, sometimes wind against tide that hampered the boat’s drift, and sometimes a drift that was too fast, said Capt. Howard from the party boat Salt Talk. Wind against tide can prevent the boat from drifting. A few keepers, not a lot, and throwbacks were reeled aboard. Even the number of throwbacks was off Sunday, in rough seas in the morning and wind against tide part of the day. The boat drifted at 2.2 m.p.h. at one point, and that’s fast. Trips fished at the stakes and the Miah Maul Rips, and most flounder on Saturday and Sunday probably bit at the stakes. Small bluefish were sometimes hooked, along bottom, not along the water surface. The Salt Talk did no croaker fishing, but one of the other head boats caught quite a few. Nothing was heard about weakfish. Open-boat trips are fishing for summer flounder daily when no charter is booked.

Cape May
A trip totaled six keeper summer flounder, including a 30-incher and a 29-incher, none smaller than 20 inches, on Saturday with Fins and Feathers Outfitters, Capt. Jim said. Great trip, he said, and probably four dozen throwbacks were released. The trip fished at the stakes near Fortescue, and even the 17-inch throwbacks “had shoulders.” Jim started using a 4/0 hook to try to prevent the throwbacks from swallowing the bait. Small bluefish were also hooked, and the trip fished a double-hooked rig Jim ties with a 36-inch leader with a plain hook on bottom and a 12-inch leader with a dressed hook on top. A Gulp with a minnow was fished on bottom, and a minnow was fished on top, and the fish grabbed both equally. A trip Friday tried for flounder at Cape May, Wildwood and Ocean City reefs on the ocean. But the angling was slow there, and only three flounder were landed at a spot Jim knows offshore of Ocean City Reef. So the trip moved to the back bay, reeling up two keeper flounder and 30 or 40 throwbacks, along the Intracoastal Waterway. The angling was relatively slow, so the trip the next day fished Delaware Bay. The two days were great. The ocean was clear and beautiful, and Jim will scope out inshore fishing for mahi mahi, wahoos and bluefin tuna there this coming weekend, ahead of a charter that’s supposed to troll for those fish afterward aboard. Clear water is key to the angling. Fins and Feathers offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including duck and goose hunting on Delaware Bay during the waterfowl seasons. Anglers can even enjoy a combo of striped bass fishing and duck hunting on the bay in fall during a series of days. Trips also fish for salmon and steelhead on upstate New York’s Salmon River from Jim’s lodge. The salmon run is coming up, can start as early as late August. Trips also fly fish for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches.

The Heavy Hitter most recently fished for tuna, but the boat is also fishing for summer flounder, and Capt. George heard about anglers who picked away at the flatfish on the bay at Flounder Alley, he said. None of the fish was huge, but there were keepers 18 to 22 inches. The fishing was pretty good, and the Heavy Hitter also fishes for flounder on the ocean, often at the Old Grounds, off Delaware. Nobody was known about who fished the Old Grounds during the weekend, and George thought the water held a big swell. But the angling there sounded like it had improved, became decent, previously. The tuna trip bagged a 56-inch bluefin tuna and three sizeable mahi mahi on Saturday near the Elephant Trunk, in 30 fathoms along hills. A tuna trip Sunday aboard was cancelled because of rough seas.

Last Week's Report
Port Elizabeth

Customers sounded pleased, happy, with the bay’s summer flounder fishing, and this seemed one of the best years of the angling now, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. She had been away, but when she returned recently, customers talked about the catches spread throughout the bay, including toward Miah Maul, Flat Top and Fortescue. A number of anglers limited out, and some of the fish were sizeable. She was surprised, and the angling had gotten off to a slow start. Weather was sometimes rough around Fourth of July weekend and the following week, last week, but improved. Weakfish were reported nipped from the bay here and there. Croakers schooled the bay, and croaker catches were even heard about from the mouth of Maurice River. One angler talked about boating lots there, and maybe the clam factory attracted the hardheads. Sizeable sharks stalked the bay, even along shore. One customer kept buying bait from the shop for the sharking, tackling the fish from shore along the Delaware side of the bay. Be familiar with shark regulations, and release shark species, like brown sharks, required to be let go. The shop’s got customers who still boated for striped bass, mostly throwbacks, on the bay, despite the summer season. They fished at places like the rocks at Brandywine Lighthouse early in the morning with bait like bunker chunks. Then they fished for other catches, like flounder or croakers, later in the day. They still used the bunker for bait, cutting it into strips, for the other fish. Flounder will pounce on bait like that, and love “meat,” even if bait like minnows are one of the favorite flounder baits. Nothing was heard about flounder fishing on the ocean at places including the Old Grounds. Back-bay flounder fishing seemed to be slowing down. Crabbing improved for recreational crabbers, but commercial crabbers didn’t fare as well. Pretty much all baits are stocked, including plenty of minnows. Fresh bunker is usually on hand, and bloodworms are carried. The store couldn’t always obtain as many shedder crabs as preferred, but stocked as many as possible. The supply was hit or miss, because when crabbing is off for commercial crabbers, the shedder supply is affected. Hard-shell crabs will actually catch fish like shedders do. The Girls Place, located on Route 47, just after Route 55 ends, carries a large supply of bait and tackle, and is the long, one-story, yellow building on the right. It’s on the way to the bay.

Newport

Crabbing served up mixed results during the weekend at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Paul said. “We’re calling it inconsistent,” he said, and trips trapped from four keepers to a half-bushel. The full moon was during the weekend, and crabs were shedding, so results like that were to be expected. When crabs shed, they won’t eat. Full and new moons can trigger the blueclaws to shed, but not every one of the moons does, and not all crabs shed when a moon does inspire the molting. Lots of 5-inch crabs were nabbed, but not enough. Many babies skittered around, and August and September could be hot for crabbing, Paul thinks. Crabs shed to grow, and many of those babies will grow to keeper size this season. Crabbing was closed at the shop Monday and today, because of weather forecasts, and Paul wasn’t necessarily disappointed, because he liked to see a little time pass to get off the shed. Shedding only lasts a handful of days, and crabbing usually bounces back afterward. Nobody seriously fished from the rental boats during the weekend, though a couple of trips brought rods. They did catch some croakers, and the shop’s reports in past weeks talked about croakers swimming the creek. The shop is still stocking minnows that Paul raises, and they’re large, because of that. Heads up summer flounder anglers about that favorite bait for the fluke. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. The staff checks on them every hour, and if customers want a break in the meantime, they simply cell phone the shop to be picked up. Be sure to reserve a boat ahead of time, because they do fill up. Law enforcement workers get a 25-percent discount on the rental of any size boat this month. That’s because law enforcement won a crabbing contest between them and emergency workers during Fourth of July week. The tournament will probably be held again in the future. Take advantage of the Frequent Crabber Card: Rent any size boat four times during the season, and get the fifth trip for only $20 that season. A 7-inch crab, trapped during the shop’s first weekend of crabbing this year, is the one to beat in the season-long contest for the biggest. The rental-boater with the largest will win a free rental next year. Rental kayaks and canoes are available to paddle the scenic creek. Beaver Dam hosts groups like scouts, birthday parties and family reunions, and can offer an educational day about the environment. Visit Beaver Dam’s Web site.

Fortescue

Summer flounder fishing picked up incredibly, said Capt. Mike from the party boat Bonanza II. The angling was slow on Sunday’s trip, and he didn’t know whether the coming front was the cause, or something else was. Only one keeper was landed, but the fishing improved a lot in previous days, and was unreal on Saturday. Keepers were usually 22 to 23 or 24 inches on trips, and the boat fished from the stakes near Fortescue south to the Ditch. The fish aren’t difficult to find, because anglers just need to look for the fleets. Every time the boat was set up to fish, other boats gathered. Bluefish 1 to 1 ½ pounds were mixed in. One of the special flounder trips to the Old Grounds was supposed to fish on Wednesday this week. But forecasts looked like the trip could be cancelled. With flounder fishing on the bay like it was, why sail somewhere else for the fish anyway? But the annual trips to the Old Grounds, reservations required, will sail periodically throughout the season. The Old Grounds is an area of rocky bottom in the ocean off Delaware. That can attract flounder, including good-sized, and other bottom fish, like sea bass, that can be mixed in. Open-boat trips are fishing for summer flounder on the bay daily when no charter is booked.

Summer flounder fishing was decent, said Capt. Howard from the party boat Salt Talk. Better catches were decked aboard on some days, and 11 keepers, including Joseph Gallagher from Pennsylvania’s 6-pounder, were winged on Wednesday aboard, among throwbacks let go. Anthony Formica won the pool with a 4.7-pound flounder on one of the trips. Sometimes the fishing was slower. Trips fished different places on the bay, moving around, after fishing mostly at the stakes near Fortescue before. Flounder at the stakes seemed to become picked over. One trip found a few flounder off the Club House, and Howard thought he had located a population. But the next day’s trip returned to the area, and no flounder bit, and they seemed gone. One trip fished at the Ditch, south of Miah Maul, and many boats, including party boats from Delaware and Cape May, filled the area. Only a few flounder bit for the Salt Talk there, but some boats seemed to find more. Small bluefish were mixed in with catches on the Salt Talk’s trips. Brown sharks, required to be released, were hooked and released, and were bigger than before. One was 4 feet on Sunday’s trip. The Salt Talk did no croaker fishing, but croaker catches, closer to shore than flounder, sounded decent on the radio. No weakfish were hooked aboard, but a bunker netter said his nets were full of the trout, and good-sized, close to shore. All in all, flounder fishing wasn’t bad, was decent, Howard said. Open-boat trips are fishing for summer flounder daily when no charter is booked. A couple of charters fished aboard this weekend.

Cape May

The Heavy Hitter tuna fished on the ocean most recently, but summer flounder fishing sounded like it improved this past week, including on Delaware Bay, Capt. George said. The bay around the 19 buoy gave up the flatfish for boaters from Cape May. Flounder fishing also improved on the ocean at the Old Grounds, where the Heavy Hitter often fishes for them. The angling sounded decent at both places. The tuna trips aboard sailed Saturday and Sunday, scoring bluefin tuna and mahi mahi offshore of the Hot Dog, past the 30-fathom line, along hills and lumps. Most were trolled, but a couple of the bluefins and one mahi bit on the chunk. Those two tuna got off, but others trolled were landed. The chunked mahi was landed, and so were mahi on the troll.

Boaters who fished near the 19 buoy said summer flounder fishing suddenly became better there in past days, said Capt. Frank from Melanie Anne Sport Fishing Charters. Sizeable flounder showed up, and the anglers talked about all the keepers. Good catches of flounder were also decked at the Old Grounds on the ocean, though that took work. Melanie Anne most recently fished for tuna on two trips offshore during the weekend. A flounder trip was cancelled Monday, because of forecasts, but might be rescheduled for Thursday. The offshore trips trolled bluefin tuna, several white marlin and some mahi mahi, including between the Hambone and the Hot Dog, farther offshore along 40 and 50 fathoms, including at the Tea Cup, and farther out, at the canyon. At the tip of the canyon, in 100 fathoms, the two largest bluefins were trolled. One broke the hook and got off, and the other was landed. Another offshore trip is slated for Saturday.

A trip on the bay aboard Saturday landed two dozen summer flounder at least, was fantastic, said Capt. Jim from Fins and Feathers Outfitters. A legal-sized, 38-inch cobia was also caught, and Jim had heard that short cobia were around. Sharks including dog fish were also pumped in. Just a great mixed bag, he said, and the anglers, a bachelor party, fished at the Miah Maul rips, the stakes nearby and on the Delaware side of the Maul. Then the trip sailed south, fishing the Horseshoe and Punk Grounds. Mostly bloodworms on the top hook and Gulp with a minnow on the bottom were fished on a two-hooked rig. But strips of squid and Gulps were also dunked. Jim likes to use big trolling squid, cutting that into large, 7- or 8-inch strips to fish, instead of the smaller, pre-cut squid. Weather was finally calm, after windy weather much of last week, though wind kicked up later in the day. Wind returned on Sunday, when a trip aboard attempted to fish on the ocean, but changed plans after poking out a moment. Seas were too rough, and children were aboard. So the trip fished the back bay near Avalon along the Intracoastal Waterway, tugging in a couple of flounder. Even there, a drift sock had to be used, and the engines had to be run in reverse, to slow the boat’s drift. Fins and Feathers fishes from Delaware Bay to the back bay near Avalon to the ocean, and offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including duck and goose hunting, during the waterfowl seasons. Sometimes anglers can even enjoy a combo of striped bass fishing and duck hunting on Delaware Bay over a series of days in fall.