Beware the ice tides of March

(March 1, 2015) … The Delaware Bay, inland bays, and ocean are covered with a pancake ice pack.

Well it is March, we made it, now onto spring!  The Delaware Bay ice pack has been flowing onto Lewes and Rehoboth beaches.  Jamming onto the flats at Cape Henlopen and stacking up on itself.  The Cape May Lewes Ferry had to shut down for two days.  There is slush in the surf making the waves look like a giant a Slurpee.  It is definitely an experience to see something that has not happened in over thirty years, and maybe once back in the nineties for a brief period.  I remember when I was a kid this would happen almost every year and that was definitely over thirty years ago.  We had ice on the inland bays and Delaware bay Last year, but nothing like this, the ocean looks like the arctic.  The weirdest part is the silence, there is no sound of waves.

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The Point covered in ice and snow 2015

This morning in Rehoboth the ice was out as far as you could see and heading towards the Indian River Inlet.  There were no waves, it is very strange to stand near the ocean and hear nothing.  Yesterday I visited the point and Beach Plum Island.  The pancake ice was stacked up on the beach three to four feet thick.  You could hear the ice shift with some crazy grinding and scraping sounds, it was surreal.  Far offshore I could see the ships slowly moving in the bay, commerce may slow down, but it does not stop despite the ice pack.  

The Delaware Bay Launch Service crews have been going back and forth in the ice pack carving a path for the Ferry with the Pilot boats and tug boats.  Those boys said they have not had to deal with this in a long time.  There are icebergs floating around that are as big as a small cottage.  I can’t imagine the damage that would do to a small boat, but it would be on a scale of the titanic.  

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Beach combing this weekend took on a whole new level, because there is little sand to be seen due to snow cover and ice of all sizes.  There are ice chunks the size of marbles up to cars, piled four feet deep on the beach.  We are going to wish we had this ice around the middle of July when we are baking in the sun.  It looks like the north pole out there these past few days and hopefully it will melt soon so we can get to fishing.  The ponds are frozen over, and most of the creeks.  It shouldn’t be long now before we are back at the water wetting a line.  I saw an iceberg the size of Buick in the Broadkill river, stuck in the mud at low tide yesterday.  

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Harbor Seal soaking up the sun at Fenwick Towers

There were a lot of people here this weekend, looking for seals, and checking out the iced over bays and ocean.  The parks were packed for this time of year.  For many this will be a once in a life time experience.  Not long ago we were sent a picture from the forties of two kids standing on the ice pack in front of Rehoboth beach.  That is exactly what that looked like today.  The seals are not vising the ice packed beaches as many had hoped.   Seeing a seal is becoming more common, but still not an easy find.  It is kind of like fishing, one day you get lucky and spot one.  Some folks were treated to a harbor seal on the beach Saturday in front of Fenwick Towers.  I had a lot of people message me wanting to know where they could see a seal this weekend, or was the seal still at Roosevelt Inlet.  That is impossible to predict.  They move around a lot, you can usually see them at the Indian River Inlet and on a beach on a sunny day, unfortunately the ice pack made that difficult on the northern beaches, but the southern beaches below the Indian River Inlet, did not have the ice pack issues.

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Seal riding pancake ice near the coast guard station at Indian River Inlet … photo by Bryan Thurman

 There is usually a couple of seals that hang out at Masseys landing, but I have not seen them this year.  An otter was spotted by the crossover at Burtons Island today feeding on fish.  Now we have sleet and rain covering the roads and making a mess of things.  I am not alone wishing spring would hurry up and get here.  Unfortunately this ice will effect the fishing just like last year.  The great lakes are over eighty percent covered with ice and that cold water will flow down our coast all spring, keeping the water temperatures low.  It happened last year, it will happen this year.  I hope everyone enjoyed their winter day at the beach, it certainly has been an experience.  I can’t wait to write about fishing, boating, and playing in the sun.  It was fun visiting the point for the last time until it reopens in the fall, that will be a memorable trip.  Until we thaw out …

Fish On!!
Rich King

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