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Delaware Bay Report

Report from Tuesday, June 30.

| Port Elizabeth | Money Island | Newport | Fortescue | Wildwood | Cape May | Last Week's Report |
Port Elizabeth
Most customers who fish for summer flounder fish the bay for the flatfish, and news was slow about the fluke from the bay, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. A couple of reports talked about a few flounder boated near the 19 buoy in the bay this season. But that was no great shakes, and escaping wind and rain to boat the bay was difficult. Weather including storms was tough on Saturday. Severely stormy weather hit last Tuesday night, leaving many in South Jersey without electricity, especially farther north, toward Philadelphia, though near the shop was only without electricity a moment. Between all of that, weather was often too windy to boat. Wind began to blow again on Monday, when Sharon gave this report in a phone call. Getting reports was difficult. The best flounder fishing was reported from back bays. Some said flounder fishing was pretty good at Reef 11 on the ocean. Croakers had been heard about from Delaware Bay, but customers sometimes tried for them this weekend, saying they failed to find the hardheads. Some customers said crabbing improved at the shore, not catching tons, but some good-sized. Shark fishing was okay on the ocean, Sharon guessed. June and July is the time of year for that. Plenty of minnows were stocked. Bloodworms and shedder crabs were on hand. Fresh bunker arrived two or three times a week. 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.

Money Island
The weekend was a washout, and none of the boats sailed from the docks, said Bruce from Money Island Marina. Weather was tough most of last week, and summer flounder had begun to be reeled in previously. Closer to shore typically fished best, but that was some time ago. What’ll happen now will be seen. Boaters, when they fished back then, also ran into small bluefish chasing bunker schools. Bruce saw no weakfish boated from the bay yet this year. Anglers fishing from the docks at the marina sometimes reeled up croakers and white perch on live grass shrimp or bloodworms. The marina features a bait and tackle shop, a boat ramp, boat slips, dry-dock boat storage, and gas. Baits stocked usually include minnows, and all the frozen bait, like spearing and squid. Bait also usually includes live grass shrimp on weekends. Sometimes the shrimp can be available on other days, when in demand or someone wants.

Crabbing was better than expected, considering 2 inches of rain fell this weekend, said Paul from Beaver Dam Boat Rentals. Freshwater from rain can slow crabbing, but boats that crabbed Sunday averaged one or two dozen keepers apiece. Paul was surprised the customers caught the blueclaws, after drizzle and rain throughout Saturday, and a rough storm that night. The shop was closed Saturday in the weather. Many crabs were 3 ½ inches or 5 ½ inches, just undersized or oversized. Four-and-a-half is keeper size for the hard-shells. Paul was glad to see the number of 3-1/2-inchers, because that seemed to bode well for the future. Those crabs should grow to keeper size this season. The 5-1/2-inchers were sizable crabs. Some especially exciting news was that two boats that concentrated on fishing nailed some good-sized white perch and really large croakers on Sunday. Fish weren’t really caught in previous weeks, so the angling seemed to begin. Some of the anglers who fished had a wire cage they kept the catches alive in, and the cage became open, and half the fish caught were lost. But they still bagged 10 or 15. Crabbing on the boats became available daily starting Monday for the season, after it was available on weekends only, previously. Two boats that crabbed Monday landed about two dozen keepers apiece. 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 store to be picked up. Rental kayaks and canoes are available to paddle the scenic creek. Beaver Dam sells everything needed for crabbing, from bait, traps and nets to suntan lotion, drinks and snacks. Paul raises minnows for fishing bait, and had to do maintenance on the livewells this season, diminishing the supply. His current supply is almost reaching the size he’d sell. When the minnow operation is completely up and running, the minnows are some of the largest around, because he raises them. Most stores obtain minnows from suppliers who net them in the wild. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.

More summer flounder began to be docked than before, said Capt. Tom from Erica Leigh Charters. Weather kept fishing in port on Saturday, but boating was possible on Sunday. The fleet from the marina caught more keeper flounder that day than previously. Tom hopes to get out for the fish in coming days.

Sand tiger sharks and dusky sharks were fought and released, after being tagged for NOAA, on the bay with Fins & Grins Sport Fishing, Capt. Jim said. A total of six were nailed on a trip Wednesday, and both species must be released. These were big fish, including an honest 300 pounds for the sand tigers. The trips are an opportunity to fight large catches without the long trip offshore, and the bay trips are half the price. Fins is also sharking on the longer trips to the ocean. A total of 34 sharks were landed in six trips, in the week before weather canceled fishing aboard this weekend. The sharks were from five trips on the bay and one on the ocean. Fins fishes for all species available from the ocean to Delaware Bay and the back bay. All trips sail from the boat’s slip in Wildwood. Fins fishes every day, and reservations aren’t required but suggested. Telephone for availability.

Cape May
Croakers showed up, along jetties, in Cape May Canal, at bridges and all around, said Joe from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Big weakfish still held along jetties, hitting bloodworms on floats. Surf fishing was mostly quiet, though. An occasional striped bass was angled from the beach. Many summer flounder scurried the surf. Boaters lifted aboard flounder from the back bay. Flounder fishing lit up at Cape May Reef on the ocean Wednesday, reportedly. Eleven keepers were bagged on one boat there that day. The trip reported that a couple of other boats fished the reef at the time, catching the flatfish just as well. Nothing was heard about flounder from Delaware Bay.

Last Week's Report
Port Elizabeth

Some summer flounder were caught, mostly in back bays, but some from Delaware Bay that were heard about, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. A customer boated a few from Delaware Bay on Wednesday. Some boaters were known about who fished the bay at the 19 buoy for flounder. Weather was still an issue for fishing the bay, like previously. Weather was sometimes rough, or forecasts sometimes called for rough weather, on the bay this weekend. Many other days were windy or threatened storms. That limited trips on the bay to an extent. A heat spell arrived now, but that was typical. Croakers showed up and were landed on the bay. Exact locations weren’t reported, but croakers schooled Maurice River near the bay. If the hardheads swam there, they likely schooled the bay. A 47-pound striped bass was hauled from the surf at Cape May Point about two weekends ago. Weakfish bit along the surf’s jetties, along the bay in Cape May, and surely weaks schooled the bay. Nobody targets weaks, really, anymore, because of the one-weakfish bag limit. If weaks are hooked, that’s usually during flounder fishing. The weaks along the jetties bit bloodworms or shedder crabs on floats or bobbers. Shark fishing seemed good for ocean boaters. A friend gave thresher shark steaks to Sharon. Crabbing improved somewhat. A customer said that included at Maple Avenue. Crabbing seemed to improve for commercial crabbers somewhat, too. Shedder crabs were no problem to stock for bait. Minnows, a favorite flounder bait, have been stocked all along, haven’t run out. Pretty much all baits are on hand. 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 was slow, but freshwater from rain in the creek seemed to begin dissipating by the end of the weekend, and most boats nabbed two dozen keepers, said Paul from Beaver Dam Boat Rentals. Crabbing wasn’t slamming yet, but improved. Freshwater had been slowing catches, because the blueclaws stay in saltwater. Catches varied widely between a dozen and three dozen keepers, among throwbacks released, during the weekend. Crabs were growing larger, and the most experienced boat on Saturday caught two dozen keepers 5 ½ inches or bigger. Catches were best during afternoons throughout the weekend, for unknown reasons. Tides were low at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Paul thought crabbing would be best for customers who departed early in the mornings, crabbing during incoming tides that drew in saltwater. But customers who finished crabbing before the afternoon didn’t catch much, and those who stayed, said the catches took off in the final couple of hours. Croakers appeared in the creek for the first time this season. A few small showed up, and those were the first fish seen in the water this year. Fish had also seemed affected by the freshwater. Customers crab and fish on 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 store to be picked up. A police versus firefighters crab-off will be held this year, like last year. The contest was held about a week last year, and the winning side earns a discount on crabbing for all police or firefighters, whichever side wins, the rest of the month. Rental kayaks and canoes are available to paddle the scenic creek. Beaver Dam hosts groups like scouts and family reunions, and can provide an educational day about the environment. The rental boats, kayaks and canoes have been available on weekends until now, but will become available daily starting this weekend for the season. The shop is open daily for supplies, even when the rentals are only available on weekends. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.


A 400-pound sand tiger shark was released on the bay Monday with Fins & Grins Sport Fishing, Capt. Jim said. A trip in previous days aboard also fought the sharks, and the angling is great. Sand tigers are required to be released, but anglers enjoy fighting them, and Fins & Grins is tagging the fish for NOAA. Fins & Grins is also fishing for the sharks while waiting for other angling to pick up, like summer flounder fishing. The sharking is half the price of sharking farther from shore, on the ocean, another reason anglers like the trips. But Fins is also sharking on the ocean. One of those trips was great on Saturday aboard, landing five mako sharks, two dusky sharks and the biggest blue shark Jim ever saw. A few sizable flounder began to bite at the Old Grounds on the ocean, for anglers who could fish the deep water and pay attention. Fishing is available every day with Fins & Grins, and reservations aren’t required but suggested. Telephone for availability. The trips that fish the bay sail from the boat’s slip in Wildwood, like all trips do aboard.

Cape May

Croakers and weakfish hovered along the surf’s jetties, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. That could include along Delaware Bay in town, and clams, shrimp or squid could be fished for the croakers. For the weaks, bloodworms on a float or soft-plastic lures could be cast. A few brown sharks and sand tiger sharks, both required to be released, bit in the surf. Sometimes they hit mostly at night during the season, but an angler reported tying into the sharks in the middle of the day. No striped bass swam the surf anymore this season, really. Small stripers were played on the back bay at night, like along bridges. Little was heard about summer flounder fishing on Delaware Bay. One angler fished near Brandywine Lighthouse on the bay, more than a week ago, with a half-dozen clams. He boated a puppy drum 5 to 15 pounds on each clam. Most drum seemed to depart the bay for the year, but a few remain all summer, at places like the lighthouses. The back bay gave up flounder, pretty good catches. A few of the flatfish began to bite in the ocean at Cape May Reef, Reef 11 and the Old Grounds.