For many anglers, the official beginning of each new Delaware Bay fishing season is in mid-May, when seatrout action gets underway near the small town of Lewes, at the mouth of the bay in southern Delaware.
Seatrout are also known as trout, or weakfish, and there are a number of reasons why this annual springtime bite in and around Roosevelt Inlet is so highly anticipated. Tops among them are accessibility, consistency and the size of the fish that are available.
Anglers in boats as small as 14-footers can easily get in on the action. The bite is usually very consistent, and at times it can be spectacular. Seatrout of 2 pounds to 5 pounds are common, and a number of beautiful fish to 7 pounds are often boated
Fishing Roosevelt Inlet
Boating anglers who launch at the public ramp in Lewes have only a relatively short distance to motor on the Lewes/Rehoboth Canal before coming to the intersection of the canal, Roosevelt Inlet, and the Broadkill River. A right-hand turn puts the boater in Roosevelt Inlet, which features well marked submerged jetties on both the right (southern) and left-hand (northern) sides.
While some boaters will drift and/or anchor in the inlet between the jetties, it’s important to realize that the inlet is used by both recreational and large commercial craft. Instead of staying in the inlet, it’s a better idea to motor toward Delaware Bay, then make a U-turn around the end of either jetty to head back toward the beach before anchoring about a long cast from the submerged boulders.
For directions to the ramp in Lewes, bait, tackle, and in-depth information on how to fish for seatrout at Roosevelt Inlet, contact Bill’s Sport Shop at 302-645-7652, or visit their website at www.billssportshop.com. Another good contact in Lewes is Joe Morris at Lewes Harbour Marina at 302-645-6227.
Usually, Roosevelt Inlet is also an excellent location for surf fishermen, but not this year (2004). A project is underway to extend the southern jetty at Roosevelt Inlet, and to replenish the sand on the beach, and as a result the parking area at the end of Cedar Street in Lewes, and the fishing area near the south jetty, will be closed, until at least September. Boating anglers would probably be wise to fish on the outside of the north jetty, or to move farther down the beach on the south side, well away from the jetty extension project.
Good Action Into July
The best action begins every spring when the water temperature climbs to at least 52 degrees, which usually occurs by the middle of May. The good action at Roosevelt should continue through June and even into July, but by then many anglers will be spread out all over Delaware Bay fishing for flounder and other species.
Spinning reels filled with 12-pound-test monofilament, or braided line, work well for casting light lures and soaking bait on the bottom, and provide plenty of fun when hooked up with spunky seatrout. When fishing lures, some anglers will use an Albright knot to connect a 2-foot piece of 17-pound fluorocarbon or mono leader to their line. When a leader isn’t used and a lure or bait rig is tied directly to braided line, always use a Palomar knot. The popular improved clinch knot can slip or fail when tied in thin braided line. Either a Palomar knot or an improved clinch can be used with monofilament or fluorocarbon line.
Anglers in small boats enjoy exciting, near-shore, shallow-water seatrout action in Lewes, Del. Trout begin to bite in May, when the water temperature climbs to 55 degrees, and continue into July.
The favorite bait for springtime seatrout is peeler crab, with each live crab cut into several chunks. Small pieces of peeler are hooked through a leg socket and fished on a three-way swivel rig featuring a plain hook, or a hook with a hair teaser. The hook is connected to one eye of the swivel via a 2-foot length of mono or fluorocarbon leader. A short piece of mono is tied to the other swivel eye, and a loop is tied in the end of the mono to hold a 1-, 2- or 3-ounce sinker. Sliding egg sinker rigs, and fish-finder rigs are also effective (one of my favorites is a floating Maw’s Tail rig used on a sliding egg sinker rig). Along with peelers, other productive baits include cut chicken breast, bloodworms, and squid strips.
Try Artificial Lures
Roosevelt Inlet weakfish will whack a variety of artificials, including small bucktails tipped with a squid strip (even shad darts with a very short squid strip), Storm Shads, Rat-L-Traps, Halco Tremblers, and leadheads dressed with plastic Mr. Twister tails or plastic bodies (Bass Assassins are but one example).
Boating anglers should cast and work the lures parallel to the jetties, or cast them over the boulders and retrieve just fast enough as to not get snagged. Once they have cleared the submerged jetties, artificials such as bucktails and leadheads with plastics can be bounced and twitched along the sandy bottom. Bait rigs should be fished on the sandy bottom near the jetties. It is not necessary to fish right on the rocks to catch fish.
Early mornings, evenings and after dark are prime times because trout most actively feed during low-light periods, and there are fewer boats at these times; boat noise is a real concern in the relatively shallow water around Roosevelt Inlet. The end of flood tide and the very beginning of outgoing, when the water is the warmest, usually provide the most consistent action.
For a fine assortment of fishing gear, click here.