That frost the other morning, it was fluffy. It’s good to see the frosty mornings again, and walk in the crunchy grass with the dog, drinking my coffee.
Hit the surf or the rocks predawn. The guides get a little icy, and fingers go numb. Fall into winter fishing takes a minute to get used to the conditions. Once you are back in the groove, dealing with the cold gets easier and easier.
The migratory striped bass along the beaches up north are closer each day. They should be showing up more and more in Atlantic City and all the way up the coast of Jersey. Soon they will round Cape May and swim right on by Delaware.
The local fish action has been great for many anglers putting in the time. The after-hours fishing has been productive for striped bass, the resident fish and schoolies. We don’t have blitzing bass on bunker conditions but there are schools of bass moving around our waterways, waiting to leave or join that northern migration. There is action south of us around Chincoteague, too, for migratory striped bass.
Measuring a striped bass correctly is important so you are within the new slot limits.
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 measure 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.
The surf is producing skates and dogfish for most anglers. There are short striped bass along the beaches hunting the waves for food. You can target smaller fish just to see what is what, but most anglers will be targeting striped bass with bunker chunks hoping for a large migratory fish. I’d still target everything, you just never know this late into the fall.
Northern puffers and croaker are still here and there as random catches, as well as large kingfish. Sand fleas are in the sand now, so you have to dig. They aren’t too deep in the wetter sand.
Trigger and sheepshead are still showing up around wrecks and reefs, inlets and the bridges of Ocean City. There is a lot of structure to fish around the way when you really sit down and think about it all.
On any given day this time of year you can hit most spots and there is hardly anyone around. It makes for great fishing when there is little competition and more contemplation.
Tautog has been hit or miss for keepers at the inlets, with plenty of throwbacks. There’s a lot of pressure on those fish.
Catfish in the C&D Canal has been great for many anglers. Some really big cats have been caught this past week. Follow the Delaware Catfishing Facebook page to see some big catches. Those folks are serious about catching those big kitties. The big blue cats really pull. Surf anglers would have some fun with the big rods in the C&D Canal. There have been some decent striped bass moving around the canal, too. This time of year those bass are moving around everywhere in schools, feeding.
It’s been fun exploring places that are normally overgrown and harder to access in the dead of summer. The bugs aren’t as bad. There are still some ticks and chiggers to deal with but not like it was weeks ago.
They keep talking about how much snow we might get this winter. I can work on my fly casting, I am terrible. It’s funny, you can cast terrible and catch fish, but that isn’t the point. It’s the art in the fly casting. I just like catching fish on that wet noodle of a rod. Then there is the Ronco Pocket Fisherman, that thing works.
We are still crabbing in the back bays of the inland bays with hand lines. Clamming is great — the winter seasonal grounds for the inland bays will open Dec. 1.
It’s 4:54 p.m., midnight is in an hour and the dog is staring at me like I’m a pork chop because he is fed at
5 p.m. — the old 5 p.m. — and I have 15 minutes until he turns into Cujo. How is your time change adjustment going?
It’s getting colder, keep that in mind when you are out during the warm afternoon on nice days. That water is dangerous if you fall in when it gets into the low 60s to upper 50s.