Delaware Bay The Eights - The Fisherman

Delaware Bay The Eights

2017 10 The Eights Map
Images courtesy of Navionics.

While the Eights sit a bit outside the Delaware Bay they are well inside the Line of Demarcation and therefore a legal location to fish for striped bass. These three red buoys (38 50/75 02.050) mark a series of shoals that rise and fall from 23 to 48 feet creating quite an active set of rips on both incoming and outgoing currents. When the direction of the current opposes the direction of the wind things can get a bit interesting, something small boat captains should be aware of.

For Delaware anglers in particular, these rips are the closest to port with Lewes’ Roosevelt Inlet offering easy access and the very large Lewes Boat Ramp about 300 yards from the inlet. Non-resident boat owners must purchase a ramp permit in order to use Delaware ramps.

There are several techniques that will work on striped bass at the Eights. The most popular is trolling deep-diving plugs. Some anglers will pull the plugs over the rips, some will run along the shoal and allow the current to carry the plug over the rip and a few brave souls will hold their boat with the bow facing into the current while the plug runs across the shoal.

I don’t care for the idea of pulling the plugs over the shoal because the lure is only in the strike zone for a few seconds. Trolling along the shoal puts the plug in the strike zone for as long as you can maintain your course. Facing into the current keeps the plug where you want it, but when the seas build up this can be a bit hazardous to your wellbeing.

As you may have guessed, having all three of these methods ongoing at the same time along with seas in the 5- to 6-foot or larger size plus a strong current can keep a captain pretty busy. For these reasons it is important for the captain to keep a sharp lookout and be ready to take evasive action at a moment’s notice.

2017 10 The Eights Map
Images courtesy of Navionics.

Another very popular technique is drifting over the rips with live eels. I rig eels on 3 or 4 feet of 50-pound Hi Seas pink fishing line. A circle hook goes on one end and a perfection loop goes on the other. The main line is passed through a fish-finder and tied to a snap swivel. The snap is attached to the leader.

Eels are kept as cold as possible and always handled with a rag. I hook mine up through the lower jaw and out the top jaw. I always hold the rod and reel when eel fishing so I can let out line as soon as I feel the pickup. Some charter captains will dead stick the eel because their parties may not be familiar with feel of a striper strike. In this case, wait for the rod tip to bend over and line start coming off the reel before allowing the angler to touch the outfit.

There will be times when eeling will not be productive on the rips at the Eights. When this happens, move a bit west and fish the deep water adjacent to the shoals. This is known as the Valley. The water here drops from 42 to 93 feet and there will be times, probably due to high boat traffic, when this area is much more productive than the Eights.

Jigging with a bucktail or leadhead and soft plastic tail can work at the Eights and the Valley. Once again I use a 3- to 4-foot piece of 50-pound Hi Seas fishing line as my leader. I use a large black Cross-Loc snap on the 30-pound braid running line to attach my leader. My son Ric uses a slim beauty knot to connect the leader to the braid and he catches almost as many fish as I do.

I have one other technique for fishing the Eights that I picked up while running out of Virginia Beach. I have two custom-made wire line rods matched to Penn level wind star drag reels filled with 60-pound braided wire line. The leader is 30 feet of 50-pound Hi Seas line attached to a three-way swivel. Four feet of 30-pound mono drops down from the second eye on the three-way and the wire line is attached to the last eye with a figure-eight knot. A 1/4-ounce bucktail with a 7/0 hook is tied to the 50-pound leader and a 10- to 16-ounce sinker goes on the end of the 30-pound line.

This set up is deadly when the stripers are on small baits.

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