Projects, restrictions, regulation changes continue

By Rich King
Posted 2/21/24

More winter doldrums, but at least we get nice days or even a week at a time of decent weather. Then it snows. The gardens are already being turned and I am planting seeds much earlier this year in …

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Projects, restrictions, regulation changes continue


More winter doldrums, but at least we get nice days or even a week at a time of decent weather. Then it snows. The gardens are already being turned and I am planting seeds much earlier this year in mini ground greenhouses I made like little tunnels. Seeds are cheap so I am curious if I can get some things started earlier than normal. Every time we plant indoors, it seems many seedlings can’t handle the replanting and we lose a lot, so trying it outside with small covers will be a new experiment. I have a lot of compost to keep it all warm, thanks to the yard birds. Fishing makes for a great break from hoeing all day in the garden.

White perch for the win as usual. On warm days we are finding fiddler crabs roaming the marshes. They make great bait but are tough to catch, quick little buggers. A coffee can with a hole cut in the top works well buried to the rim. We just check it while we fish. Grass shrimp are easy to find on warmer days along bulkheads and the mud banks. I’m still seeing crabs on warm days in the shallow waters. Mild winters always create different conditions depending which waterway you are near. Bait shops are carrying bloodworms, but call ahead because they tend to go fast.

In the surf, you might scare up a skate or dogfish on a warmer day, or maybe some short striped bass around inlet structure. Taug are always a winter catch at the inlets.

Freshwater anglers are catching bass. I’ve seen many a mud shad in Indian River being eaten by cormorants. Many Maryland areas are starting to see more yellow perch. Be careful on these warm days, it gets deceptive, and that water is dangerous if you fall in or get too wet. Hypothermia doesn’t take too much to set in on a semi-warm day as it gets colder faster at the end of the day. By the time I get back to the truck for a jacket I feel like maybe I’ll just stop, it’s good and chilly now. A nice hot meal helps knock that chill off.

If you want to check out fly fishing the salt, check out the Saltwater Fly Anglers of Delaware club on Saturdays during their fly tie meets at the Presbyterian church in Lewes.

There are several projects occurring in or on our waterways in Sussex County. The south shore marina at the Indian River Inlet is getting a new entrance on the bayside. This will help alleviate the shoaling in of the marina during storms. Unfortunately, it will change the fishing along the wall there. The Lewes canal is getting some steel bulkhead sheeting installed to help shore up the shoreline. The Army Corp of Engineers will be fixing the inlet this spring. Some people are upset about the timing. When the ACOE starts doing ACOE things, it is best to just stay out of the way and let them finish.

Delaware Wild Lands recently put out an announcement: “Delaware Wild Lands, Inc. updated policy for use and visitation at our Milford Neck holdings: Due to the sensitive nature of the beach, dune, and marsh habitat, vehicle trespass (including trucks and ATVs) is strictly prohibited. Access by foot is not permitted at Bennett’s Pier beach. Foot traffic for non-destructive recreational activities is permitted at Big Stone Beach only, between dawn and dusk, strictly on a carry-in, carry-out basis. Access to forest, marsh, and agricultural lands remains off-limits to the public without written permission.”

It is a shame we keep losing more and more land-based fishing access. Surf fishing is hard enough these days due to more and more restrictions.

Surf anglers have been asking if the reservation system is still in play this year. Unfortunately, yes. Parks needs to review that system. When it rains, no one uses the reservations and us actual surf anglers are stuck looking at empty beaches we can’t drive onto until after 4 p.m. That’s just wrong on so many levels. Getting the reservations is a nightmare for some people because they have jobs and can’t just blow that off for the 3 minutes it takes for all the reservations to disappear.

We are losing anglers to other states, not just tourists but locals as well. I haven’t bought my tag yet this year and I am seriously contemplating not buying one. I spent all my time elsewhere last year, or just caught a ride or walked on and fished what little time I have these days. Walking on with a park pass and catching a ride is cheaper anyway. It’s not like we are going to catch much anyway, it’s still too crowded. Maryland has some amazing fishing and, farther south, the Outer Banks has insane fishing compared to Delaware.

The Charles W. Cullen Bridge north tower finally has a new traffic camera and wow, is it a clear view. Well done DelDOT, you’re going to have to up your bandwidth now. Also, can a brother get a constant view and not that 20 seconds then you’re kicked off loop? The view is much clearer in HD and it is even crystal clear at night. On a clear night you can see the lit-up shoreline of Cape May. Everyone uses those cameras to check beach conditions before fishing some days. If you are hiding from your boss and fishing, be careful where you park. It’s that clear. You can see into the water much better now and see the surf structure. It’s a great way for a new angler to learn how to read a beach. Schools of bunker will be much easier to see now.

There is legislation being proposed at the federal level to update fishery laws and limits for a shifting Atlantic Coast fishery. Changes in climate are creating warmer waters and fish stocks are shifting north — black sea bass being one of the most obvious examples. The increase in commercial anglers having to travel farther to find fish and, in some cases, dumping some of the catch is creating higher mortality rates.

“The SHIFT Act would require the Secretary of Commerce and encourage the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission to account for the impact of climate change on the current distribution of fish populations when deciding fishing quota allocations.”

Yeah, I always hear “big gubmint needs to stay out of my fishing,” but oddly those are the same people that create the need for regulations. Funny how that works.

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