Keeper striped bass finally in the surf

keeper striped bass in the surf of Delaware, rockfish, rock the rocks, jetty jockeys, sandblasters, migratory atlantic fish, fall run, spring run, bunker heads, chunkin bunka
Keeper striped Bass caught by Phil Spare at Cape Henlopen State Park

Finally the website is moved and it is good to go, there is enough bandwidth to fly a plane through.  There will be no more issues with crashes from heavy traffic, thank you all for your patience.  Huge thanks to David Okonewski for being the webmaster of disaster, for the past year. He has had one heck of a job keeping the site online. If you took the movie Scanners and crossed it with the Exorcist, that is what his job has been like. Now he has a much better space to work on the site.  Now we can fish more.

The weather the past few days has been beautiful.  Mild temperatures which drop at night, but not too uncomfortable.  That will all change after the storm front moves through tonight.  Some are even saying there will be wet snow seen in some areas inland.  The water temperatures in the surf have averaged fifty nine degrees, the inland bays have been holding around fifty four degrees and the same for the Delaware Bay.  Optimum fishing temperatures for striped bass.  The sudden arctic blast temperature drops should not affect the water temperatures too badly.  It will be a bit uncomfortable fishing, but we just throw on the heavy winter gear, or sit in the vehicle.  Setting up the vehicle so you have a nice wind shield helps a great deal on the beach, when in the boat you can’t really escape the wind.  Last year about this time we had an arctic blast, and the sunset was amazing, hoping to see that again.  I know we all prefer sun and sand, but after all it is November.  So what has been going on out there?  What can you expect this weekend?  Good question.

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Karl Hitchens with a nice tautog from the inner wall

The first keeper striped bass was caught in the surf yesterday by Phil Spare.  I asked him what he was using, because we all want to know … “I was using a fish finder rig w 8/0 blood red circle hook baited w a fresh bunker head. Hooked up 2.5 hrs before high tide.”  My buddy Corby Fulton wanted to know … “ I need lat/Lon, bait used, depth fished, color, hook size, and how you were holding your face when you casted! ” Phil told me the exact location, but we figure that is not important, and I want to go fishing today.  I’m kidding, he was in Henlopen State Park near the point on the ocean side, hopefully we will see more of that action as the week progresses.  Jersey has been hot to not depending on where you are fishing, it changes day to day.   These fish are on the move up there (Jersey) heading this way, and not hanging around.  The Delaware Bay has seen random catches of nice sized keeper striped bass.  Many guys are mostly hooking up with large spiny dogfish using eels and live spot.  Trolling bright colored stretches or bombers are working well for the striped bass when they are biting.

The upper Delaware bay started seeing keeper migratory striped bass recently, caught on bunker chunks.  More than likely the fish are coming out of Cape May and heading up the bay.  A week ago a nice keeper was caught on Assateague Island in the surf, on a kingfish rig of all things with bloodworm.  There are still kingfish in our surf and bloodworms were working well for Henry Busby hitting kings two at a time last weekend, as well as hooking up some of the smaller yellow eyed devils (bluefish) while he was on the hunt for the rockfish.  You can put the fishbites away for next year, the water is too cold.

The bluefish action has been decent in the surf, and at random locations.  Bluefish are still at the inlet mixed in with shad and shorty striped bass.  A few keeper striped bass have been caught at the inlet on live spot and eels, but mostly it has been non stop shorty action, and still a lot of fun.  I was catching shorts and blues last night one after another on a two ounce green long deadly dick from the rock pile, by the north marina parking lot on the outgoing tide, while watching  the sunset.  You can’t ask for a better time and scene, baitfish so thick along the rocks you could scoop a handful.  Blues and shorts jumping fully out of the water feeding on the baitfish, as well as birds diving for them. It was one of those scenes you always read about, that we are fortunate to experience almost daily.

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Last years Arctic blast sunset. Photo by Kim Johnson
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The walls and haystacks are producing tautog but that has been random as well, that action is hot one day and not the next.  It will pick up very soon. Green crabs and live sand fleas are the best baits as always.  If you can find some hermit crabs or Ovalipes ocellatus often called calico crab, or lady crab.  These are native to our waters and tog eat them like candy.  The hermits you have to break out of their shells and tautog eat them like we rip into pistachios.  You will have to catch the lady crabs, stores here do not carry them.  They are available in some stores in New Jersey.

There were still sand fleas in the surf last week, and this may be the last week we see them around.  The wreck sites are producing better than the walls right now and hopefully that will change up soon.  Sea Bass action has been hot with some triggers and big bluefish in the mix.  Clams are the bait of choice and would be a good bait to try in the surf as well for striped bass.  Fresh surf clam is usually in most shops, you just have to call around.  Mullet has been great for bluefish but has been scarce to find fresh here this year.  The mullet run was more like a jog, and no one showed up.  It was a bad year for the mullet run in Delaware, for the most part, a few folks have their own honey holes and did just fine.  A few flounder have been caught while fishing for sea bass in deeper waters.

isle of wight bay, short striped bass,
Richard Moore with a shorty in the Isle Of Wight bay.

The inland bays still have large schools of short striped bass moving around you just have to find them.  Bucktails, white two ounce with or without a white plastic worm, swim shads, and poppers are doing great for constant action.  Catching these on light gear will turn your arm to Jello in no time, and is hours of fun.  Look for water moving out of the grass on the mud banks on the outgoing tides, or fish a rip on the back side of a sandbar.  Cast into the area, do not run your boat in there, you will just spook the fish.  Even some bluefish schools and shad are moving around the back bays.

Clamming has been hot for the commercial guys and crabbing is pretty much over unless you find a nice warm spot on sunny day.  The crabs are fat if you do find them, since they are feeding as much as possible to store fat reserves for their winter dormant period, crabs do no hibernate.  They bury themselves in the mud, in deeper water at a forty five degree angle with just their antennae, tips of the eye stalks, and breathing channels above the mud.  Tuatog are showing up at Masseys Landing but mostly undersized, but still fun to catch.

Striped bass action at night under the lights has been fun, and I mean like two o’clock in the morning fun.  It is no wonder my sleep patterns are all messed up this time of year, and my neighbors must think I work weird hours.  I can just imagine the conversation in that house.  “He is leaving again at midnight and then comes home at six in the morning, who does that?  Where does he go?   It seems like he sleeps all day.”  Striped bass fishing is a strange hour activity, and takes a toll on your sleep.  Hope everyone has a great weekend, be safe out there, the cold can creep up on you, and make for an uncomfortable time.

Fish On!!

Rich King

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