Use proper techniques when releasing your catch

By Rich King
Posted 7/10/24

Well, we wanted summer and boy did we get it! It’s hot, hot, hot out and the fishing isn’t too bad either.

Grab the kids and head down to Bowers Beach this Saturday for the First …

You must be a member to read this story.

Join our family of readers for as little as $5 per month and support local, unbiased journalism.

Already a member? Log in to continue.   Otherwise, follow the link below to join.

Please log in to continue

Log in

Use proper techniques when releasing your catch


Well, we wanted summer and boy did we get it! It’s hot, hot, hot out and the fishing isn’t too bad either.

Grab the kids and head down to Bowers Beach this Saturday for the First Annual Youth Fishing Tournament hosted by Bowers Bayside Bait and Tackle. Registration is from 7:30 a.m. to 10:45 a.m. It should be a fun day. DS Custom Tackle is giving away gear packages to all of the kids. Fishing runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., with an awards ceremony at the bait shop. There will be spotters on site in different locations to record fish catches.

The kingfish and spot bite in the surf and around our waterways has been fire. A lot of kingfish are being caught most days, even these really hot days. Just cast out a little further in the surf if you aren’t seeing bites closer to shore.

Keep an eye out for passing bluefish schools and toss spoons in their direction. I’m hoping to see some decent summer blues this year. The best little blues to eat are the two-pounders. I love catching summer blues on ultralight gear and small spoons. Sometimes we break out the Ronco Pocket Fisherman for some real fun action.

The Cape Henlopen fishing pier is seeing decent spot and kingfish action, with lots of croaker, too. The high tide action has been on point, according to the boys in the pier shop, Breakwater Bait and Tackle. The flounder action has been mostly shorter throwbacks but there have been the occasional keeper. Despite the end of the pier being closed, anglers are doing well. Anglers would be doing much better if we had a longer pier. And everyone would be making more money because of that.

Flounder action for larger catches is better offshore. Even the beaches have mostly undersized fish. The keeper average size gets smaller each year. Maybe we should back off flounder for a season or two. Meanwhile two tournaments will hammer the populations around the inland bays and then offshore as well, especially with all the culling of fish for the largest catches.

Chesapeake Channa action has been good around Delmarva. It’s a channa and in the Chesapeake, so the name actually makes a lot of sense. They fight like a beast and should be destroyed once landed. That is a fun constant argument. The catches get bigger each year, and at some point that larger size is going to become a real issue for many waterways.

Top water action has been great for the freshwater anglers. I love fly casting larger flies and poppers for bass on top water. It’s a lot of fun on the long wand.
A lot of shark anglers are out there this year. Many of them are doing it wrong and landing prohibited species incorrectly. Everyone wants to catch a shark until they catch a shark.

We try to be proactive online and teach people the rules. But at the end of the day it is on the angler and that is part of the problem. Most don’t know the rules and some just don’t care. That’s one reason I will always say recreational anglers do the most damage to a fishery. You always hear the cry about commercial anglers but recreational anglers are a large part of the problem. Make sure you know the rules and the best techniques to release your catch no matter the species of fish. At this point DNREC should outlaw land-based shark fishing in Delaware. The species constantly caught are all prohibited. Technically it is illegal to target a prohibited species. The main issue is the inexperienced anglers taking way too long to land the fish and release. By the time the shark is landed it is exhausted and the lactic acid buildup will kill the shark once it is released. “Swam off strong” is not accurate with released sharks in this case. Yes we all know you can’t help what you catch but you can care for its release properly.

Maryland DNR is daily telling people whether they should or should not fish for striped bass in the Chesapeake due to water temperatures. Hot water is low in oxygen and a stressed fish can not recover after being released and often dies due to low oxygen water conditions — especially the fish stressed out for all the hero pictures. The anglers that constantly complain about rules like this are the problem. Real anglers understand the need to protect fish species from unnecessary stress. Many anglers that I know, once they reach their personal limit they stop fishing for that species. Some of us don’t keep all we are allowed, instead just the one fish for the meal that evening. I stopped fishing for flounder years ago because the sizes were just terrible and still are today. When you have to pick through 50 short fish to get one keeper maybe it is time to target something else. Because all you are doing is stressing out a lot of fish just to get that one. There is a mortality rate for released fish — not all released fish survive the release.

Have a great weekend. Stay hydrated. Heat exhaustion can come on fast and hit hard.

Members and subscribers make this story possible.
You can help support non-partisan, community journalism.