Epic Days Remembered - The Fisherman

Epic Days Remembered

A where-to article in “The Fisherman” magazine about the popular and easily-accessed Outer Wall (OW) at Lewes, DE described a substantial rip that developed during an outgoing tide. As a result, an exploratory visit to the OW rip was on the late-summer agenda during a casual trip out of Lewes with my wife Eilene back in 2012.

The ebbing tide was cranking as we rounded the top of the OW. Hundreds of screaming and diving gulls and terns swarming the rip greeted us. It was still pre-Labor Day but abundant baitfish, in this case silversides, were clearly the attraction. Such an aerial feeding frenzy started me literally shaking with anticipation, as I figured bluefish were also actively feeding from below. I quickly tied on a Stingsilver and positioned the boat to drift through the uptide side of the rip. I figured I would remove my wife’s croaker rig, still baited with small squid pieces on small circle hooks, and tie on a metal jig for her after our first exploratory pass through the rip.

First cast, fish on. As we neared the rip itself, I asked my wife to grab the net, not sure what size fish I had on. She rested her rod on the gunnel with the croaker rig still dragging bottom and readied the net. As we passed through the rip I happened to glance down just as her rod was about to disappear over the gunnel. I grabbed her rod, holding on to my bucking rod with the other hand. She reclaimed her rod and began to fight her fish. I quickly boated my bluefish, then grabbed the net and waited to see what she was battling. It turned out to be a 23-inch summer flounder. Whew, what a first drift! Below the rip I decided to keep her croaker rig on, baited it with a long squid strip, and re-positioned the boat above the rip for the next drift. Bluefish again attacked my metal jig but no more flounder. After a few more bluefish drifts without flounder I switched her rig to a fluke ball baited with another squid strip, which quickly produced another 20-plus inch flounder. As the rip eventually slowed down so did the action.

This unexpected catch
This unexpected catch of summer flounder made for an epic day.

As soon as we arrived home I phoned my fishing buddy Ray, told him the story, and also “suggested” he cancel anything possibly planned for two weeks in the future (my next opportunity) so we could hit the rip again. Two weeks hence, and loaded with plans and bait options, another fine day of weather and a good morning ebb awaited us. Bird mayhem greeted us as we rounded the tip of the OW.  We quickly cast metal jigs uptide of the rip and began to hook and boat blues. After a few productive drifts I noticed Ray adding a large strip bait to his diamond jig and dropping his rig to the bottom. Soon he was fast to a big fish, and I netted a large flounder. Before the next drift through the rip I switched to a flounder rig, and over the next hour we concentrated drifts on the deeper, downtide side of the rip. All told we boated seven keeper-sized flounder, four of them over 20 inches, a dozen short flounder (18-inch minimum size in 2012), along with a dozen bluefish. Ray took big fish honors with a 24.5-inch flounder. We couldn’t believe our plan actually worked out! Once again large bait strips on various flounder rigs, as well as the diamond jig, did the trick. An epic day indeed!

Another phone call to another fishing buddy with a “save the date” message occurred upon arrival home. Another nice day and hundreds of diving, wheeling birds at the OW rip greeted us once again, this time chowing down on peanut bunker. More blues in addition to two keeper flounder, one at 23 inches, rounded out another fine day. A fourth and final trip to the OW with my wife (by now it was early October) yielded only five short flounder although we had missed the peak of the morning ebb. Even the blues and baitfish had apparently relocated, since the gulls and terns remained perched on the top of the OW. There have been other fine late summer or fall days in subsequent years with good bluefish action at the OW rip, however, I have never caught another flounder at the OW rip. Desired expectations of good catches always keep anglers coming back for more, but as an angler acquaintance used to say about fishing many years ago, “ya just never know.”

Related