Striped bass, bluefish, redfish, and ling cod … full moon this week

Fenwick Island State Park
Hank Busby fishing the surf at Fenwick Island over the holiday weekend. The surf was very rough, and large this weekend. It has since laid down a bit, and should be a tad easier to fish. Waders are still a good idea to manage the beach conditions carved by Hurricane Sandy.

Hey gang, sorry this has taken some time.  I have been very sick with the flu for the holidays, not much fun, and it was hard to even look at a computer screen.  There has been a lot going on around here at DSF, and in our waters.  I was supposed to meet some friends for a Thanksgiving eve fishing trip on Wednesday, and just could not go outside. Chris Barton, Kristen, Sherry, Jim Raymond, and Andres all fished 3R’s on that day, and did good catching redfish, small stripers, and even a ling cod.  They were using fresh bunker, something that has been hard to find these past few days.  I wish I could have gotten in the surf that day, but my health was more important.  Instead I spent the holidays doing minor updates on our DSF Facebook page.   One of the updates was a 52 1/4 inch striper that was caught in the Delaware Bay on the Jersey side.  It was a monster fish, and stirred up a few folks online.  The fact that people are catching, and keeping huge stripers has some folks upset.  These are large “cows”, and part of the spawning populations.  I can understand some anglers reasoning for wanting these fish returned to the schools.  This is an age old argument that has merit.  We think the best way to help the populations of striper remain intact and increase, is to get the creel limit changed to one fish a day, and possibly go back to slot sizes.  The argument always falls onto the responsibility of the angler as to how many fish they really keep.  A one time catch of a lifetime, we always understand, and congratulations to the young man that caught that monster striped bass.  I know anglers that catch and release everything, and I know anglers that do the exact opposite.  Last year we had a guy bragging he caught over 60 keepers in roughly 2 months, and yet he saw nothing wrong with that, but at the same time he had a problem with people limiting out on other species.  Whether you catch your limit in one day, once a year, or limit out daily for a few months, the responsibility is left up to the individual.  Granted feeding your family is a great thing, but that is a lot of fish for one person to keep, just for bragging rights.  Yet the creel limits allow this to happen.  In short, it is best to be a responsible angler, and promote catch and release, so we do not decimate the populations again.  We already know the spawning in the Chesapeake was not as well as scientists hoped for this year.  My personal rule, keep as little as possible, and we will have more next year.  Another rule I would love to see created would be not to allow people to fish spawning grounds.  Catching and releasing is one thing, but stresses the fish, and the boat’s motors that use water to cool the engine, are killing fertilized eggs in the water column.  The trout we saw this year, another good example of angler responsibility, people went nuts trying to limit out each day.  That is a creel limit (only one) that needs to be changed to none, for at least 2 years, or change the size limit above 24 inches.  Just my take on the subject I am sure as many that agree, will disagree.

3rs beach, delaware seashore state park, redfish, red drum, puppy drum
A small redfish or puppy drum caught in the surf at 3R’s during the Turkey Eve fishing excursion … photo by Andres Ferreiro

Everyone has been asking how is the striper bite this fall?  It has been slow so far, and hopefully will continue to increase over the next few weeks.  The fast changing temperatures may keep the fish deeper this year.  Probably the reason many of the keepers are showing up in the Delaware Bay, and not as much in the Indian River Inlet, beaches, and back bays.  That is not to say keepers are not showing up, just not in the numbers expected compared to last year.  The surf has been hot north of Indian River Inlet, there are more keepers showing up on our northern beaches.  Cape Henlopen State park beaches have been okay, and the bay beaches even have produced.  The problem we are seeing is the water is very dirty along the coast, thanks to Hurricane Sandy stirring up the bays, pollution, and runoff.  Dogfish, redfish, and ling cod have been showing up in the surf on the bay beaches.  Cut mullet and bunker has been the choice of bait.  A few keeper stripers were caught over the holidays at the Indian River Inlet.  Some big blues and keeper stripers were hit in the Delaware bay yesterday (Sunday).  Stretch 25’s were my buddy’s choice for the other day.  Bucktails and swim shads are working in the back bays, which are loaded with shorty stripers.  Fishing the grasslines when the tide is outgoing will produce fish.  The baitfish and food “dump” into the water along the mud banks, and the fish sit there and wait for them.  If you find a school stay out of the way, and you will catch fish.  Massey’s Landing has been okay for keeper stripers, and great for tautog, just not many keepers.  Holt’s Landing has been decent for shorty stripers and great clamming nearby as well.

striped bass, fenwick island, rock fish, stripers, delaware surf fishing
Henry Busby with a shorty striper he caught in the surf this holiday weekend at Fenwick Island State park.

The University of Delaware Sea Grant College has been using their OTIS probe (Oceanographic Telemetry Identification Sensor), designed to pick up tagged sand tiger sharks in our waters.  Some of these sharks may be the ones we tagged in the summer for DSU, and we will keep you updated.  Another interesting study they have been working on is checking the changes to the sea floor due to Hurricane Sandy.  This is an environmental impact study to see the changes created by these large storms.  They did the study on the Redbird reef, an artificial reef 16 miles from the Indian River Inlet.  You can see the articles for both of these studies at the following links … Shark Social Networking and Sandy’s Underwater Seascapes.  Another interesting study being conducted at the Sea Grant College is about invasive species from the bait many of us use, especially bloodworms.  I will have a detailed article on that soon with an information brochure.  This is a very important study, since most anglers toss the seaweed that bloodworms are packed with into our waters.  You would be surprised at the number of creatures that hitchhike in these packages of bloodworms.  It is best to dispose of these packages, and not introduce unwanted, or harmful species into Delaware’s tidal waters.  We already have green crabs living in the rocks of the Indian River Inlet, a non native species.  Please be careful when disposing of anything, and technically tossing anything in our bays is frowned upon by the folks at DNREC, and in some cases may be illegal.  They have a hard enough job as it is watch dogging our environment.  Please be wary of how you dispose of unwanted or unused bait.

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fly tying, dry flies, striper flies, long lining with flies,
Jason Snead has been tying flies getting ready for the season. We will tell you more about his new found skills soon, he will have these available for purchase through our DSF online shop.

Jeff Wildonger is the winner of our caption contest, and has won a DSF sticker and Frankenstorm bumper sticker.  Yesterday his neighbor was fishing the surf … “Neighbor caught some shorty stripers today at 3R’s. Biggest was 21″. He also pulled in 2 ling, 14″ and 16″ and some dogs.”  Thanks for the heads up Jeff, and congratulations.  We are way behind on getting our T shirt, and Hoodie orders filled, and I apologize for this.  We will be shipping everything, next Monday.  Anyone whom would like a refund just email DSF, and let me know.  I appreciate everyone’s patience, our orders keep getting bumped, and that is not anyone’s fault just an is what it is situation.  Hurricane Sandy, the nor’easter, and the Thanksgiving holiday really put everything, and everyone behind.  We use a local company for our apparel, and he has been working overtime to fill these orders.  We are not the only ones waiting for orders, everyone here has been hindered by the storms.  Again I am sorry for the delays.  The moon is almost full and this week should be some decent fishing for striped bass.  Last night I fished Broadkill Beach, and when I returned to the house I started to write a report.  The following, 10 minutes later, is what it turned into …..

Moon lit beach, surf is glowing and calm, like the edge of a lake.
The moon reflects bright in the wet sand.
Wind is non existent, almost to the slack of the low tide now.
Nothing stirring in the water, but the lap of the waves.
The ships at the anchorage are aglow, small cities floating on the bay.
The light houses turn and turn.
I can see my shadow as clear as daytime.
Casting plugs along the jetties hoping for a strike.
Nothing hits, nothing stirs.
Except the feeling of pure peace.
It is beautiful outside, cold, crisp, and clean.
The moon will be full soon, for now it is close enough.
I can hear the geese in the marshes of Prime Hook behind me.                                                     The plug pops, hops, and pops on the retrieve.
Seeing an occasional shooting star and the milky way in the background.
These are the good things in life.
The rat race can wait til the dawn.
I will return to the surf for the rise of the sun.


Fish On!!

Rich King




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