Water Temperatures Are Plummeting
Old Man winter wants to go rock fishing. Because of the last storm (last weekend) and this first snow for some of you storm, the water temperatures are dropping fast. The inland bays have dipped as low as twelve degrees in six days. Last weekend started out around sixty degrees and then the temperatures just dropped dramatically in two days. A week later and the inland bays at Masseys Ditch is fluctuating forty-seven to fifty-two degrees. You can see the fluctuations in the temp chart below. The surf is averaging fifty-three degrees, as is the Delaware Bay. Perfect striped bass temperatures.
The warmer temperatures are on the high tide and the lower temperatures are the low tide, due to the air temperatures. The bass are responding well, there are short striped bass schooled up everywhere.
There are bass in numerous places. Basically the same places they are every year at this time. Casting lures to them is your best bet. White bucktails either single or tied in tandem, swim shads either match the bait or try a white, bombers preferably purple for nighttime, flies on a longline set up or as the top “teaser” on a bucktail rig, spoons silver or gold. All of these lures will catch striped bass, not all of these lures will work at the same time or in the same places. The bucktail is the most versatile.
If you are in a boat once you find a school of bass stay out of the school. Don’t drive through them cast to them and figure out which way they are heading. Usually you get lucky and the boat will drift with the school as it moves. The boat will drift faster than the school moves, don’t start back up until you are well away from the fish then go reset your drift. Schools will camp out in front of sloughs and small creeks, you can literally anchor there and slam bass as long as that water is moving out of the marsh, creek, or slough.
There are schooling striped bass in the creeks, such as Canary, Broadkill, and Pepper creek. There are schools moving up and down the Broadkill and Indian Rivers. Best way to find them is to fish the marsh grass and mud banks. When the tide is dumping out of the marsh the bass will sit along the mud banks and ambush bait fish as they move out of the marsh grasses with the receding water. Lewes canal is loaded with bass due to the amount of food, structure, and the marshes along the canal.
Every bit of structure you can find will hold bass at one point during the day, the schools are moving with the tides. The Indian River inlet form Bubble gum beach to the north and south pockets have striped bass. You just have to fish the tides to get to the bass, opinions vary on the better tides to fish, because the action varies daily. Some spots produce like clockwork on certain tides, and that is easy to figure out.
Resident striped bass are moving into the surf and that action has been picking up that is why around the Indian River Inlet it is much hotter at times. The surf right now is wide and wind washed and that wash is a good place to look for small bass chasing bait. We are going to spend the day doing that.
Jersey is seeing the same action with some large resident schools moving into the surf. Hopefully we get some surf fishing action for migratory bass this year, we hope for that every year. We also hope it lasts more than a day. Bass up north are feeding on sand eels as usual.
The migratory bass are not even close yet, but there have been a few really big bass caught on the Jersey side of the Delaware bay. These are probably early arrivals, there are some bass that move apart from the main migration, and head out early. They could also be huge resident fish that have been here for twenty plus years.
There are still bluefish here, and plenty of little stuff to catch but all anyone ever wants to hear about this time of year is striped bass. Offshore action has been good for sea bass, tautog, weakfish, atlantic bonito, and blues. Some boats out of Ocean City got into swordfish and yellowfins during the week. Charters out of Indian River and Lewes have been doing well. Check out Surface Tension, (302) 249-4599, Captain Keith Beebe has been on the fish.