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.
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.
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.
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.