Delaware — where we have snow flurries up north and frozen foggy mornings in the south. Winter just can’t get a foot in the door. Yesterday someone asked me where they can get a snow blower fixed, in Sussex County. I said you pronounced rototiller wrong. Snow would be nice, but it isn’t going to last long enough to fire up that monster machine. These warmer days are wild. I have a lot of soft plastics running around my woods still. I heard a few of those frogs the other day when it got really warm. I just planted more carrots and winter veggies.
The fishing has been cold to hot. It depends on where you go and what you are targeting. The usual white perch, with some small puppy drum and short striped bass mixed in, are around the waterways. Canary Creek in Lewes was fun a few days ago. Broadkill has been producing as well.
The surf is skates and dogfish. However if you went around the Indian River Inlet or fished the point area, you should be targeting migratory striped bass. They are making an appearance and not far from shore. There are short striped bass schools along the beaches. They are on the move so you either stay put or walk and surf cast looking for a school. I’ll sit put on a nice day, and move more on the less favorable days. Keeping warm is key.
If you are looking for an interesting fishing trip, try ghost hunting. Tuna follow striped bass to feed on, much like striped bass follow bunker. The tuna following the bass are fun to catch, hard to hook up and almost impossible to find. It started years ago, with tuna breaking the surface up north at the end of the season chasing migratory striped bass schools in close (miles from shore). Captains would scramble to get gear to catch them, using stick baits and large plugs to get the bite. Most of the time once you get into casting range the fish disappear, never to be seen again. Many started saying it was like chasing ghosts, hence the term ghost hunting. It is a lot of fun, with disappointment and/or reward, all wrapped into one trip. Add it being too cold and it is a perfect winter fishing trip.
Some migratory striped bass moved into our area around the inlet. Jimmy Young caught and released a nice red drum while targeting striped bass with white swim shads. Most of the bass action has been the larger schooling short bass, meaning they are short of the 28-inch keeper creel limit. But some big girls came through the other day, too. That action will change on the hour.
Speaking of striped bass, there are a few meetings left you can listen to online. The ASMFC should have the meetings up on YouTube soon. The issue for us will be the Delaware Bay summer slot season. We will either have to adjust the main creel or catch regulations or possibly get rid of the summer slot season to comply with reductions. That depends on how Delaware wants to set up to comply with the required reductions. I know a lot of anglers that are big fans of the slot season. I’d take a hit on our main creel size to keep that season. Delaware might be able to change the slot sizes for the summer season to help comply as well and keep both creels in reason. We are headed to a moratorium at some point at the rate things are going. Too many do not remember what that was like or about. Pay attention and get involved in your fishery, not just striped bass but everything. It is all related. Blue catfish are now a much larger problem that could get exponential in issues and numbers.
The options for the Striped Bass Draft Addendum II to Amendment 7 are:
Option A. Status Quo: 1 fish at 28” to less than 35” with 2017 seasons (all modes). This option allows for the continuation of the existing Addendum VI CE plans. Status quo has little to no probability of achieving the objective of this addendum.
Option B. 1 fish at 28” to 31” with 2022 seasons (all modes).
Option C. 1 fish at 28” to 31” with 2022 seasons for private vessel/shore anglers; 1 fish at 28” to 33” with 2022 seasons for the for-hire mode.
Option D. 1 fish at 30” to 33” with 2022 seasons (all modes).
Option E. 1 fish at 30” to 33” with 2022 seasons for private vessel/shore anglers; 1 fish at 28”-33” with 2022 seasons for the for-hire mode.
For all ocean options (besides the status quo), the following states would be required to submit area-specific measures to achieve the same percent reduction in total removals as the selected ocean option (relative to 2022 levels) as part of their state implementation plans:
• New York: the Hudson River management area
• Pennsylvania: all state waters
• Delaware: the state’s July–August 20–25” slot fishery.
All state implementation plans are subject to review by the board, technical committee and plan review team, and should incorporate the best available data for each area (MRIP data are not available for all areas).
Winter fishing is in full swing. Check your local shops for winter hours. A lot are changing now and have holiday specials.
Be careful on the warm days — that water is cold now and it is deceiving.