An annual excursion and a special Scout project

By Rich King
Posted 11/8/23

The weather, whether you like it or not, is constantly flip-flopping warm to chilly to cold and back. It’s that fun time of year. Jackets in the morning, to T-shirts by afternoon and back to …

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An annual excursion and a special Scout project


The weather, whether you like it or not, is constantly flip-flopping warm to chilly to cold and back. It’s that fun time of year. Jackets in the morning, to T-shirts by afternoon and back to jackets for the evening. I test drove some underlayers the other day in my waders. Is it colder now, or am I older? I lost weight, that’s my excuse — less homegrown insulation being carried around.

The fishing has been hit or miss as usual for this time of year. North of us, the migratory striped bass are along many New Jersey beaches. A few large migratory striped bass have been caught around Chincoteague. The northern striped bass are on the move and the Chesapeake fish are on the move. Use bunker chunks for bait. The northern guys are throwing every lure you can think of and bass are hitting a wide variety. The fish are in blitz conditions hammering bunker. They will smash anything you throw at them. Bone white and pearl are popular fall colors for plugs and soft plastics. Blurple is better for night fishing. That is a black and purple colored lure. Both colors work fine alone, too, but are more popular in combination. We have some random keeper striped bass being caught around the area. I haven’t seen much in migratory bass action. The smaller local bass are decent sized for the usual schooling striped bass in Delaware, where the migratory fish rarely visit, though we do produce migratory striped bass in our bays.

There’s a lot of white perch action in the waterways. Be careful in the kayaks with the cooler waters and warmer days. It is deceptive how cold that water is until you’re standing in it.

Crabbing is still happening around the inland bays. Hand lining crabs from piers is fun on a warm fall day.
Clamming is much easier this time of year — less pressure and competition.

Short striped bass action for Delaware has been fun around our waterways and beaches. The bass are in schools along the beaches hunting for food, but not in blitz conditions like New Jersey. If I wanted migratory bass from the beach here in Delaware, I’d fish a cloudy overcast day or at night. If you get lucky, maybe a bunker school moves along the coast with fish on it. I’m not saying fish won’t move along our beaches during the day. It happens, but it’s random action that you have to be out putting in the time to catch. An eight-hour trip that could produce none to one fish, or you get lucky and start dropping fish on your first cast. The joy of fishing is we never know.

The charters are doing well on triggers and sheepshead, but I’m not sure how much longer that will last.

These temperature drops have been mild but the water is dropping nicely. Inland bays are back up into the upper 50s again.

George Mummert and his buddies met up at Assateague last week for their annual surf fishing excursion. This is their 26th year. They caught a decent variety of species for this time of year: puffer, sharks and rays, skates, spot, flounder, black drum and one small blue. He said, “We didn’t get any reds or striped bass this year. Since we started this (26 years ago) we have kept records of every single fish caught. Our numbers are up more than 30% overall from Delaware to Assateague.”

That makes sense compared to what others see. I’d venture to guess it’s due to much less crowded beaches, and better structure, as well as the fact the estuaries behind the island are huge and vast. Millions upon millions of fish are in protected estuaries all the way to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It’s like if you protect areas and don’t build on there, it keeps producing and supporting wildlife. Crazy, right?

Get out and fish, target everything. It is still summer fish straggler season. There are kingfish still moving about, as well as spot and the usual suspects. Flounder are around, as well. Everything is fattening up for the winter trip or nap. Dogfish are abundant in the surf.
Fishbites is still working fine, since it isn’t too cold yet.

Congrats to Jack Thornton, a senior at Odessa High School, and the crew at Troop 902 in Bear. Jack has been working on his Eagle Scout Award. These Scouts put together boxes for catfish to breed in the pond at Hillside Park in Newark. They also installed fishing line disposal receptacles. It’s great to see these kind of projects happening in our communities. No, these boxes are not for noodling catfish.

Jack Thornton: “My project will involve work at Hillside Park in Newark, DE. It is managed by the City of Newark Department of Parks & Recreation. There is a large pond located at the Park, and they will be stocking it with catfish in late summer of 2023. I am proposing the design, construction and installation of three catfish spawning boxes and two monofilament fishing line disposal receptacles. Catfish will be provided by the Department of Corrections Aquaculture Program at Sussex Correctional Institute in Georgetown, DE. The boxes and receptacles will all be built off-site, and then placed at the park. Design ideas were provided by the Pennsylvania Fish and Wildlife Commission, and approved by the Delaware Division of Fish and Wildlife, as well as City of Newark Parks and Recreation. The construction portions of the project took place at my home in Middletown, DE. The completed structures were transported and installed at the project site.”

Why catfish boxes and monofilament disposal systems, you ask?

Well, Jack Thornton says, “The City of Newark Department of Parks and Recreation has a pond located at Hillside Park. The park is used by many in the local communities. They will be stocking the pond with catfish in late summer of 2023, and the pond will be a public fishing area. The spawning boxes are needed to maintain a healthy population of fish. The boxes will provide the catfish and panfish safe spaces to spawn, as well as offer protection from predator fish. The monofilament fishing line disposal receptacles will be placed conveniently to encourage anglers to properly and safely dispose of fishing line and hooks. This is necessary to reduce environmental impact of improper disposal and the harm it can cause to the fish, as well as reducing the risk to personal safety of the visitors to the pond.”

I have fished with many of these kids at Cape Henlopen when they camp in the fall. We help the troop out and host a fishing day so they can work on their fishing merit badges, and play in the ocean. They are all involved with the environment and have a great care for and interest in increasing their knowledge of the outdoors. It’s good to see them put that to better use. Keep it up, gang, the world needs more of that.

If you are a space nerd like me, you may have seen the stable auroral red (SAR) arc. This is a rare event that occurs during the northern lights. It is a ring current of energy within our atmosphere, and that is a lame description. It is a rare phenomenon. It could be seen worldwide. I watched it with the camera for a couple hours. There have been some great shooting stars, too. I love the crisper atmosphere this time of year. I can really see the sky. Now if we could just turn all the lights off for a couple hours. We no longer see the sky too well at night and it is a shame.

Here’s a gift idea for the outdoorsperson in your life: a small backpack for a “go” bag. I have four of these packed with warm dry clothes. Add some nice wool socks to a go bag for a gift that is perfect. We all carry around too much gear and organizing it is a nightmare. Having multiple bags set up with different gear for the seasons is great. This time of year, all four of those bags are in the truck so we can do summer to winter in one day.

If you have a boat angler in your life, get them a reef site book with maps for the area.

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