Delaware Surf Fishing Report March 9, 2023

Get your surf fishing gear ready fish are on the move.

Spriiiiinnnnngggging into fishing!  Sorry it has been a hot minute since we did a fishing report. The winter has kept us busy elsewhere with work and we had to fix this website from a few “issues”. Always good when you find the right people to help out with those issues. Even if they do work for the federal government.

 The tress are popping buds, the daffodils are blooming, and the Bradford pears are in full bloom in the county of Sussex.  Until … Old Man winter rolls back in, slams open that door screaming and another thing beaches!   He just can’t leave peacefully.  Mild winters are wild.  It might snow Saturday?  Water temperatures are in the mid forties.  

  March came in like an angry lion and he better lamb it out of here by the end of the month.  The wind has been crazy, with big waves and wide surf wash.  Fun for the surfers when the waves aren’t blown out.  Not so much for us surfcasters.  I have sand in odd places and I am missing five layers of skin.  Free exfoliations at any Delaware beach. I have a love hate relationship with wind.  I love fishing, I hate fishing in heavy wind.  But that westerly will let you cast to the UK.  A south wind you can cast along the beach from the inlet to Ocean City. 

cut for surf fishing, casting for surf fishing , delaware surf fishing
The cut, on the left, cast out on each side and the middle to jig or with spoons. The beach area between cuts, just cast along the shore line.

      Opening day for trout season was great for many anglers.  The crowds can be avoided with some waders and a little motivation.  You will find fish away from the crowds.   The addition of the youth day has decreased the crowds a wee bit on opening day according to some anglers.  Great idea to let the kids get a shot first.  

       If you are getting a surf pass for Assateague Island National Seashore OSV beach.  You must order them online first form the park’s website then pick you passes up at the ranger station.  That was changed over the winter.  If you don’t know this and arrive at the park you can use a phone or  ….  “This online option will help streamline the OSV sales process for visitors to the island as permits may be purchased in advance online and then picked up at the park office within 10 days of purchase. OSV permit sales will continue to be possible in person via online computer stations located at the North Beach Ranger Station in the Maryland District and the Toms Cove Visitor Center in the Virginia District. ”  

   Striped bass are schooling up around all the waterways.  Commercial anglers are getting some decent fish in their nets already.  Seen a few beasts hit the deck.  The question about those fish are they early arrivals or resident fish?  “Most that I caught seemed to have spawned already.” 
The short schooling bass will move out of the inland bays and into the surf soon enough. The Delaware bay beaches will have short striped bass schools up and down the coast feeding. It is time for some rat wrangling!
The white perch are thick for the netters as well and I have heard of some shad already showing up in a couple nets.  Just waiting for that first big drum or bluefish to show. It won’t be long now. Mid march is usually a starting point for many fish including summer flounder.

north beach, indian river inlet, charles w cullen bridge, delawaresurf fishing, learn to read a beach
This is a cut and sand bars at the Cape Henlopen Fishing Pier beach. It is small but is a great example of how a cut works.

Don’t hold your breath for a big bluefish blitz like years past along the coast.  That has died out completely.  We are back to normal action where for a hot minute some are caught along the coast and then they are offshore for the season.  The lack of the big gators like the years past along the coast just shows how fast a fishery can change with heavy fishing pressure.  That is why we have bluefish size and creel limits much less than years past.

Despite the coming cold snap.  once the fish start moving it is not likely they will stop.  The cold snap will shut down the bite to a degree, but fish never stop eating.  I was once asked … “You fish in winter” … Me “yes, yes we do, all the time”  Apparently people think fish don’t feed in winter.  Fish don’t hibernate, they migrate or stay put and live in the area, big difference. 

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Migratory fish come in waves, they do not all leave an area, nor arrive at once.  They follow the food.  There are large striped bass that will all but travel alone.  I’ve always figured due to the fact their usual school or crew has been reduced in number dramatically and old fish don’t want new friends, maybe.    

Extension Of Right Whale Slow Zone East Of Ocean City, Maryland

Puppy drum (small black drum) are moving out of the estuaries as well mixing with the white perch.  One of my favorite fish to eat when they are just over the size limit (16 inches), and/or before they lose their stripes.  I won’t eat a large drum.  Ever scale a fish with a hoe?  Not just that, but very large drum are old fish, and tend to have worms in the meat especially the caudal area.  They have been marinating in these waters for a long time.  Collecting pollutants and building up toxins.  Nope I’ll eat the younger fish and the breeders can be left alone to make more fish. 

black drum agechart, puppy drum, delmarva
Black Drum age chart for Delaware

  The beaches south of Delmarva (OBX) are seeing some pompano catches already.  Larger pompano not the smaller ones.  That is good sign of some early spring fishing.  The northern puffers are arriving there and all kinds of the spring fishes.  Red rum catches are happening as well  

   The inland bays and Delaware bay, in the shallows are seeing crabs in crab pots already.  Not a lot and not very fat but the crabs are moving in areas they weren’t before.  Cold snap will slow that down too, but not for long.  

       Watch your water temperatures they are going to roller coaster the next week or so.  If you are on or near the water, wear warm/wet gear.  Hypothermia can set in quick on a warm day with forty five degree water if you end up “swimming”.  Even that breeze coming off the water will cool you off way too fast. I’d rather sweat in my waders, than freeze in my regular fishing clothes.  This time of year sitting next to the ocean is like standing near the fridge with the door open, naked.  Enjoy the imagery.  

  Seals are showing up on beaches and that will probably continue into April.  If the seal doesn’t seem stressed stay 150 feet away and leave it alone.  No one likes hearing this, but I usually just leave them be and I don’t call anyone.  Unless I am in an area that I know will have random people show up all day. Also if I know the seal is stressed or sick, yes it is easy to tell once you learn how to do so.
   Little dude just wants to take a nap, not have an audience watching it sleep.  Most of the time they are just sleeping and other times they are avoiding predators.  

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Fish On!
Rich King

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