Be careful with your striped bass measurements

By Rich King
Posted 6/5/24

The weekday fishing has been easier than weekend fishing. The crowds are bad on weekends. I fixed that by leaving for nine days to fish in the mountains. Compared to the coastal chaos, it is a very …

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Be careful with your striped bass measurements


The weekday fishing has been easier than weekend fishing. The crowds are bad on weekends. I fixed that by leaving for nine days to fish in the mountains. Compared to the coastal chaos, it is a very monotonous place. That is exactly why we visit our family place which is so remote our cell phones barely work — a serious bonus these days. It is like getting off the grid without leaving the grid. I spent every day floating around in a canoe or kayak and catching fish: large and small mouth bass, giant yellow perch, huge panfish and chain pickerel. It was a great time and now it is time to fish the surf. Or maybe go back to the mountains.

Beautiful weekend weather is approaching. The bluefish action is still decent and random. It is fish and see what you catch, not a blitz condition. There are still some nice bluefish in the surf and some smaller snapper sizes are showing up. The big gators are fun to catch, though many prefer to eat the smaller ones. Mullet rigs are the best with mullet for bait, of course.

DS Custom Tackle modified mullet rigs are perfect for catching more fish and using less bait. David Okonewski, DS Custom Tackle owner, said, “We are making mullet rigs as fast as we can and the crews can barely keep up.” It has been a banner spring for bluefish catches and apparently gear sales for the bluefish. Now they need to roll out of here so we can target everything else before they eat all the fish.

A couple croaker were caught at Augustine Beach recently. They are up there rather early. Everything is early this year. It might have something to do with this ridiculous heat we are about to get this summer. It’s June and my grass looks torn up like it does in August. I’m so glad I planted the gardens six-plus weeks early. The growing seasons are wacky now. It gets too hot too fast.

Snakes on the Dundee III, the third annual snakehead derby, is this Saturday at Gunpowder Falls State Park at the Dundee Creek Marina, 7400 Graces Quarters Road, Middle River. It should be a fun time. The only issue with some snakehead contests are anglers going for the largest fish. That really doesn’t promote removing these fish since everyone wants a bigger one for next year. Maybe do the most weight removed and most fish removed for all snakehead tournaments. It does help remove a lot of these invasive fish.

Heads-up, anglers, I was made aware of an issue at DNREC. Apparently, officers are using their discretion for measuring striped bass. People could be getting tickets for a legal fish that was measured incorrectly. Maybe it’s time for a “how do we all measure our fish the same way?” class and get on the same page. I’ve heard of this issue before with the circle hook rule when it first was introduced. So am I to understand that depending on which officer checks me, I could or could not be in compliance when I am in compliance? Also there apparently is an issue with flounder, too. Since the 17.5-inch season (which started June 1) is not on the fishing ruler, some people are just going off the ruler’s 16-inch flounder limit which is now wrong. DNREC, you have a few issues you need to get worked out. I’m not naming anyone. It isn’t like there are a lot of these folks. They are way understaffed as it is these days. For the record, I don’t blame the officers for the ruler issue. DNREC had an entire winter to set up the flounder regulations and put them on a ruler.

Striped bass or rockfish have to be measured to overall length in Delaware. Pinch the tail together and measure from the closed mouth to the end of the pinched tail. Make sure the tail is stretched out as far as possible when you pinch it together. This is a straight-line measurement, so it is recommended to use a measuring board or lay the tape on the ground. Do not measure along the body of the fish, the curve will skew the actual length. DNREC will also be looking for people who have trimmed tails to make the slot length. That became an issue a couple of years ago.

Sea bass action has been good for the boats getting out. Offshore flounder is picking up rather well for spring into summer. Charters and head boats are filling up quickly on weekends. Book ahead of time to find space. If you strike out in Delaware, try the Ocean City marinas. OCMD has many more times the amount of charter boats than Delaware. Head boats are fun with a group, but I am personally not a fan of fishing with way too many people I don’t know. I either take a group or go hit a beach.

Black drum action is still OK in the Delaware Bay but will end soon enough. Fish that show up early tend to leave early, too, with hotter water temperatures.

The surf has seen decent action of bluefish, black drum and the occasional migratory striped bass. Sharks have been here for a hot minute. Make sure you are aware of the rules about keeping prohibited sharks in the water. An easy way to tell is any shark with a dorsal ridge is prohibited in Delaware. That raised looking line down the back of the shark is the dorsal ridge. The best rule of thumb is to just let any shark go as quickly as possible and leave it in the water when you do. Avoiding shark catches is easy by not using cut bait.

Weakfish action has picked up around the Delaware Bay beaches. I’m seeing some nice fish landed at the Cape Henlopen pier and Bowers Beach area.

Have a great weekend.

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