Hunt fish after the storm


We just got off of a seven day nor’easter which we dubbed the “bor’easter”. I spent several days chasing the storm and watching 15+ foot waves pound the inlet, with a few surfers in the mix on occasion. Fishing was nearly impossible, but we tried. It’s striped bass season and the spring migration north is underway. The real excitement came after the storm died down and we were able to launch. Bluefish, Greater Alligator Bluefish, Striped Bass, and Black Drum are still striking. Big bruises are a bonus. The question everyone is asking: is it like the blitzes that started five years ago or is it just the usual coastal visit for a few days in the spring amplified by the storm? These fish have been blown out and are everywhere in the inner bays as well.

We’ll see in about a week or less whether this is an inshore race or just the typical spring visit we usually see. Spoons, poppers and anything that glitters catch bluefish. Mullet is the preferred bait. Bluefish regulations are now three fish per angler.

Anglers can also target smaller fish in the waves. Upper and lower platforms with fish bites or sand fleas work well. Revamped beaches will take a bit of time to settle in for the fish. Barney grabbed an oyster cracker in the surf the other day. This little guy was lost.

Flukes strike in the surf and around inland bays and channels. Bluefish anglers at Cape Henlopen Jetty pick up flounder on spoons near the beach. The flatties lie in the small holes around the cape flats, now known as the boat head beach because they are packed for those blue fish.

The bar just started and many boats came out for opening day and did pretty well. Quality fish filler coolers.

The beaches were not destroyed by the northeast. If you ask any fisherman or surfer they will tell you that the beaches are beautiful now. The structure of the sandbar system is perfect for surf fishing and surfing. I know the towns are in turmoil from the high tide issues they will face, but come winter they can replenish.

The northeast, as usual, carved out the beaches and moved all the sand from the beach into the sandbar system. That’s why the beaches look like New Jersey or Assateague. We’re excited to see this, but in the dead of winter, meh, we can’t catch. Now it happens during the spring run and during summer fish arrivals.

We have outdoor sandbars and troughs. There is an inland sandbar and a trough on a few beaches. Large tidal pools over a hundred feet long drain into the sandbar system where the large cuts form. The wide surf wash is nothing but a constantly moving structure. Be careful wading these troughs; some are deep and full of quicksand.

Because no one is allowed to move around the sand except at the sand relocation project on the north side of the Indian River Inlet to protect the bridge, the surf fishing structure will form naturally during the summer . It’s the best thing an angler could wish for – a real surf fishing structure that will hold fish and life in the summer. The park’s beaches will rebuild naturally; they are never replenished. But this time, the entire coastline is being rebuilt naturally.

The beaches in the park are in good condition, washed flat in the sandbank area. The city beaches are eroded cliffs due to artificial dunes. It’s not the artificial dune system that’s the problem, it’s the static location. City dune lines cannot move or “walk”. Same with the dune line at Indian River Inlet; it is static for protection. These dunes serve a purpose and are rebuilt. Surf anglers don’t like refueling; he buries the structure on the surrounding beaches.

The Delaware dune system moves back and forth with seawater levels. Storms literally define this line, and the line rebuilds with wind and wave action.

Super Hurricane Sandy pushed this line onto Highway 1 at the base of the Indian River Inlet Bridge. This whole area is a barrier island that is supposed to move.

Building a city or structures over and against the dune line destroys the natural functioning of the dunes. East winds cannot move the sand to rebuild the beach and dune system by picking up the sand and pushing it back onto the beach. Instead, the large constructed sand piles are eroded away and only serve as protection. Or in the case of the houses of Hatteras, they can’t move when the ocean moves. Then the house falls into the sea.

Surf fishing this year and right now is going to be a lot of fun with a new structure. Go out and surf the fish. Every storm from now on will rearrange the structure. Eventually, the beach will settle into a normal structure pattern that we haven’t seen in a long time. Without replenishment, there is not much “dead” sand to wash away in live sand areas.

All Delaware beach towns have already been approved for winter beach replenishment. Sorry, can’t call it beach food as it’s been dubbed. Killing a food chain isn’t food for me, but I need it.

Enjoy this surf-fishing structure while it lasts. Enjoy it as much as you can; I have been. Fish in the drains of large tidal pools. Also fish the basins at low tide, the deepest. The fish will enter with waves, move through the pools, then swim to the drain in the current to exit while chasing or hunting.

Remember where these pools and drains are, because at high tide, it’s the hole and cup you want to fish. Exit to an outdoor sandbar on the sides of the pools, but watch for soft sand. Wading through a hollow can be tricky. Outside waves are more difficult to launch from the front now.

Have fun there; beaches will continue to shift and change. Do a little exploring!


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