Spring catches await once the weather improves

By Rich King
Posted 4/3/24

Mud season is upon us, which is good, mine was drying up and I really needed more wind. The leaves just blow back into the woods — no raking required out here in the country. It has been a wet …

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Spring catches await once the weather improves


Mud season is upon us, which is good, mine was drying up and I really needed more wind. The leaves just blow back into the woods — no raking required out here in the country. It has been a wet start to spring which has made it rough on some of the trout anglers. Many are watching the flow meters on the rivers. Opening day is coming for Maryland this weekend. Water might be a little calmer by then but not much lower. There is a significant amount of weather dumping a lot of water into our river valleys. My gardens are loving it. I planted more seeds weeks and days ago. Everything is starting to come up so far. I still have some warmer weather plant seeds to sow. The weeds in the garden are mostly vegetable plants I just relocate to another area to grow out. Actual weeds get fed to the chickens, who feed the veggies black gold. It’s a nice little balance.

Striped bass anglers pay attention to changing rules in Maryland: “The 2024 Chesapeake Bay Recreational and Charter Boat Striped Bass Summer and Fall Fishery Size Limits … The Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources announces a change to the size limit for the striped bass recreational and charter boat summer and fall fishery for the Chesapeake Bay and its tidal tributaries, including the Maryland tributaries of the Potomac River. Effective 12:01 a.m. May 16, 2024, the minimum size for striped bass is 19 inches and the maximum size for striped bass is 24 inches. This rule is effective for the 2024 striped bass summer and fall season, which runs from May 16, 2024, through July 15, 2024, and August 1, 2024, through December 10, 2024. All other rules, including those established by emergency regulation which close all Chesapeake Bay and tidal tributaries to targeting striped bass from April 1 through May 15, and the Susquehanna Flats, Susquehanna River, and Northeast River to targeting striped bass from April 1 through May 31, remain the same.”

And a side note, the striped bass populations are not shifting north. That is literally not possible. Striped bass return to the waters where they were born to spawn again. A noticeable shift in waterway populations would mean a population in another waterway area increased due to favorable spawning conditions. That is the only way you would see more fish north of us and less south of us. Spawning would be down and that in turn would affect the population. A striped bass didn’t just decide to go to a new place to spawn. It doesn’t work that way. I keep hearing people repeating that false information. A simple Google search will pull a lot of information about spawning striped bass facts.

The Delaware Bay beaches are seeing some striped bass action, mostly on bloodworms. These are resident schooling fish. In the spring, bloodworms are always the best bait for striped bass. Green crabs work, too. What do you think they were eating up north? That’s where the bloodworms and greens are sourced.

The shad are up the Delaware River, too. They make excellent bait for striped bass, and also make great bait for catfish, another catch that is increasing as the waters warm up a little more. The only factor keeping catch numbers low is the weather. Not many of us like fishing in cold, wet rain in spring. The fish don’t care. They came in wet, they will go out wet.

White perch remains a steady catch for anglers using grass shrimp, minnows or bloodworms. The small jigs work great, too, under a bobber. It’s an easy and clean way to fish, minus having to touch the fish you catch. I like less messy fishing when I am running around for the day between errands. Lures and the like make for a cleaner day, but will catch less.

Fishbites fast action formula is working fine, too. The long lasting will start working better soon enough. Usually water over 60 degrees is best for long-lasting Fishbites formulas. Fishbites also has a couple new six-inch grub colors out. The Slugger six-inch grub is a chartreuse and pink combo, and the Pink Shiner six-inch grub is self-explanatory in color; pink and white. They look like they will be great for flounder. These grubs allow the angler to present a larger bait for larger fish. Big bait catches big fish.

Baby flounder are showing up in minnow traps around the inland bays. That’s good to see. Baby flounder grow up in nearly freshwater in winter. They will move into the more brackish water in spring to feed and grow. I am sure there are some flounder around here now. A few have been caught below us in Chincoteague.

Black drum are showing up more and more around Chincoteague. It won’t be long now for Delaware. The OBX is seeing black and red drum catches on the beaches now. It would be great to see another red drum run for Delaware this year. That is usually just in the fall for Delaware, so it would be nice to see a little spring run too. It does get a little better each year. It shows how a fishery can come back after nearly being wiped out, once allowed to do so. Think of striped bass — if you kill all the breeders from one area, then nothing ever returns to that area to spawn. Then eventually that population dies out in that waterway.

The water has subsided from the dune breach on Route 1, but the erosion of the dune at the northern beach of the Indian River Inlet is wild. It just goes to show how not pumping sand for a couple years really messes up everything it was protecting. Trucking it in has been barely a Band-Aid. Now the debris that was covered by sand is being removed. Meanwhile it is the only thing helping keep the sand there. I think that beach is going to be that thin for a long time. Crews will be dealing with this erosion from here on out. There will need to be some major changes to that area. Taking out the old Coast Guard tower base seems like a bad idea, too. But what do I know? I’m not an engineer, I’m just going on observations. That thing breaks up waves as they crash into the north beach pocket. The marsh bed exposed on occasion is interesting — it’s clay.

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