PUT IN THE WORK, INDIAN RIVER WILL REWARD
We have featured a lot of saltwater fishing hotspots- from Cape Cod to Cape May, and from the Montauk Lighthouse to the Barnagat Light. But we have not, until now, featured one of the best fishing areas along the mid-Atlantic Coast- the Indian River Inlet in Delaware. The Indian River Inlet and Delaware State Seashore Park are heavyweights when it comes to places to fish. The Inlet offers direct access to the Atlantic Ocean from the Indian River and Rehoboth Bays, and it can be challenging to navigate even for seasoned boaters. Shore bound anglers need to be aware of the strong tides and large breakwater rocks that line the inlet. The north and south rocks also lead out directly into the ocean and are flanked by beaches. Fishing out on these points offers excellent opportunity to catch large fish on both the incoming and outgoing tides. The Indian River estuary provides good fishing, but it takes a bit of preparation and some learning experiences before you really understand how to catch the many fish that ply this water. The first few trips will have some frustrations no matter how much you've prepared.
The most exciting time to fish the inlet is when the stripers are busting the surface chasing bait under diving birds. Your adrenalin will be flowing and the lures will be flying, and most assuredly you will not be alone. The chances for tangled lines and heated words will challenge even good friendships. This is where heeding some advice you read or heard could minimize the chance of problems. When the action starts, take note of the anglers to your right and left and pay particular attention to what they are throwing. You're going to want to match the type and weight of the rigs or lures they are throwing in order to not drift faster or slower than they are drifing. You have to keep an eye out for anglers throwing odd weights- that is, using too-heavy or too-light tackle. Casting to breaking fish requires a cool, clear head, and cast placed with care. The standard lure for stripers is a white bucktail with a white plastic trailer so having a variety of sizes in that presentation will be a good start.
What makes this even more complicated is that Striper fishing is really best after dark, and if If your plan is to chase stripers at night on the jetty, that adds to the care you need to take.to avild falls on those rocks. Proper footwear like Korkers are the standard, and it's not a bad idea to wear a PFD. Don't wear waders- they will fill up and pull you under if you fall in. Carry a small plug bag with lots of white bucktails and white worms, white Storm or Tsunami shads and a favorite plug or two, including topwater if conditions warrant. A headlamp or a small flashlight around the neck along with a good pair of clippers and fishing pliers will come in handy. Starting at the falling tide is a good way to fish the jetties.
The inlet features a lot of rocky bottom areas. This also presents challenges to those wanting to bottom fish for tog. Most big tog are taken right in the rocks. This is why you need to bring lots of tackle. You will feel as if you are losing more than your share. Local wisdom says use as small a bank sinker as possible and try to fish directly down from the rod tip. Using one-hook rigs will save money. Sand fleas and green crabs are good tog baits, and JoeBaggs tog jigs are also popular.
The further up river you go the more the waters flatten out making them more friendly to bottom fishing and where nice fluke can be taken. Heading the other way opens up to the traditional surf fishing opportunity. Working from small craft around marinas can also be productive. Surf fishermen should find plenty of kings in the surf along with small trout, spot and croaker. Keep your rig moving across the bottom for best results. For boaters venturing offshore, fluke fishing over ocean structure is good, and if you don't have a boat there are some charter boats doing well jigging with bucktails. If you run out of Indian River, to fish any of the wrecks and reefs in 40, 60, or even 120 feet of water, you’ll need lots of lead and heavy jigging spoons. You should work to position your boat over and around the
structure, fighting both current and wind. You will be rewarded with fat sea bass and doormat fluke.
Local tackle shops like Sport Fishing Outlet in Norristown PA, and Old Inlet Bait & Tackle in Rehobeth Beach stay well informed as to what is biting, where and on what so don't hesitate to give them a call. Old Inlet Bait and Tackle, Inc. was established in 1962, and is located in the Delaware Seashore State Park two miles north of Indian River Inlet. They are a full service tackle shop with full service rod and reel repair capabilities. Pictures feature Parker Pastorius who with his dad Justin are contributors to the info at the Sport Fishing Outlet.