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Fourth of July fishing heats up; White Marlin Open a go

The White Marlin Open announced Friday that its tournament, set for Aug. 3-7, will go on with limited attendance at weigh-in.

With the weather heated up and the Fourth of July weekend arriving, summer fishing season is in full swing.

With it comes a reminder to stay safe, follow fish limit rules, and stories of unusual catches.

Reminder to follow creel, size limits

Delaware Fish and Wildlife Natural Resource Police recently made an undersized fish bust, prompting a reminder to check the state’s creel limits. The bust included nine undersized rockfish, 12 croaker and a weakfish at an undisclosed location.

Anglers can find legal creel and size limits online here.

In addition to enforcing creel limits, police will also be out in full force for “Operation Dry Water,” promoting sober boating during the holiday weekend. Officials say the leading factor of fatal boating accidents is drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs/medication and boats should designate a sober driver. 

Unusual catches

On Sunday, a group of friends brought an unusual catch for weigh-in at Old Inlet Bait and Tackle at the Indian River Inlet: A 28-pound cobia, caught just north of the inlet.

Cobia, or what anglers call “the man in the brown suit,” are a migratory fish that follows the Gulf Stream towards warmer waters. They are a rare catch on the surf in Delaware. Cobia and can grow up to 100 pounds, with the state record at over 79 pounds caught in 2018.

“Half a dozen or so are caught on the beach every summer and this is one of the bigger ones I’ve seen,” Clark Evans with Old Inlet Bait and Tackle says. “Usually when cobia are brought in they are in the 12- to 14-pound range. [The group] was taking in just how rare of a catch it was. Everyone was happy.”

Evans says the rare catch was caught on a kingfish.

White Marlin Open remains a go

Some good news for fans of the area’s largest fishing tournament.

Officials for the White Marlin Open announced Friday that the tournament, scheduled for Aug. 3 thru 7, will stay on schedule despite the coronavirus pandemic.

In cooperation with the Worcester County health department, capacity will be reduced with the use of wristbands given out each day on a first come, first served basis for weigh-in spectators at Harbour Island. Facemasks also will be required.

“Social responsibility and safety are always paramount,” said the organization in a news release. “We are doing everything we can to enhance protection for the community while enabling people to continue to participate in the tournament experience.”

For those who cannot attend this year’s tournament, a live-stream will also be available at

What’s being caught

The real question is what’s not being caught!

The fishing, like the heat, has been hot right now. On the surf, plenty of croaker, drum, kingfish, flounder, and bluefish being caught. A few sheepshead have also been caught at the inlet on sand fleas.

At the Cape Henlopen fishing pier, crabbing is really good right now with plenty of croaker caught on bloodworm and fish bites. The boats are bringing back tuna, mahi, sea bass and flounder. A few mako sharks also have been caught. Reports have come in of white and blue marlin on the hooks, which should make for a good August tournament in Ocean City.

Captain’s Lady Charter out of Bowers has been getting people on weakfish and flounder lately. Some blowfish also reportedly have been caught on an afternoon trip.

Gale Force Charters out of the Indian River Inlet reports bluefish and flounder caught on recent trips.

Those catches are a great reminder to support local fishing boats who are struggling this season due to the early pandemic lock-downs that kept them on the docks. If you are looking to get on fish, booking a charter is the best bet.

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