Delaware Fishing Report

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    This Delaware Fishing Report came from Delaware Fish and Wildlife

    Updated: April 16, 2010

    ADVISORY: The black sea bass recreational fishery will reopen in federal waters May 22 after an extended closure in effect since last October. The National Marine Fisheries Service pushed back this year’s start date to correspond with recommendations by other fishing councils including the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Council. The black sea bass fishery was ordered closed last year by NMFS as an emergency measure for protecting fish stocks, and this year’s start date means the mandatory 180-day closure will have been extended by an additional 39 days. No closing date for the black sea bass fishery in 2010 has yet been determined by NMFS.

    By Eric Burnley Sr.*

    DELAWARE BAY The hot rockfish bite in Delaware Bay has cooled off as I expected it would. The fish are here to spawn and once the water reaches the correct temperature they head to the spawning grounds and won’t return to the lower bay for a couple of weeks. The spawning grounds are between Claymont and Chester where the rockfish season is closed until May 31.

    We did have reports of rock over 20 pounds caught near Augustine and Woodland beaches. Bloodworms and cut bunker have been the top producers.

    Once the spawn is complete the rock will move down the bay and hopefully stick around such places as Brown Shoal, Brandywine, the Eights and the Rips for a few weeks. This is when lower bay boats can have a decent shot at some big fish.

    Tautog fishing remains good in the bay. Several boats have recorded limits of fish to 10 pounds. The tog have been caught from boats out of Bowers Beach, Slaughter Beach and Lewes. Crab or clams have been the best baits.

    White perch fishing has been very good in the lower Delaware River. Grass shrimp and bloodworms have caught several perch over the 1-pound mark.

    No sign of bluefish so far, but once the water temperature goes past 55 degrees these toothy critters should be available.

    We had reports of a few flounder in the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal. This fishing is just getting started and will do nothing but improve over the next two months.

    INSHORE OCEAN Tog provided fine sport over the weekend. The inshore wrecks and reefs produced good numbers of keepers with several boats scoring a limit catch. Once again clams and crabs caught most of the fish. A few cod continue to show up along with the tog.

    INDIAN RIVER INLET Beautiful weather Wednesday created ideal flounder fishing conditions at the inlet and Indian River Bay. Anglers who were able to take advantage of the situation had limit catches. Minnows, squid, cut bait and smelt were used to catch the flounder. The VFW Slough continues to garner most of the attention.

    Thursday was another kind of day. With a 15- to 20-knot west wind and morning temperatures in the low 40s we did not see many boats on the water and most of them were fishing for rock. I was with Harry Aiken and Ken Williamson in Harry’s boat. We fished from 6:30 to 9:30 in the morning covering the water from the rip by the Coast Guard Station, to Burton’s Island Slough and around to the rip by South Shore Marina. Harry caught a 15-pound rock on his second cast. He had another just before we left, but this one was a short. As always, Harry was using a white bucktail with a white worm. I used a green D.O.A. TerroEyz and Ken had the same lure as Harry. We both failed to attract a hit.

    We did not see a lot of bird activity and no sign of hickory shad. The SONAR did show schools of small bait.

    SURF Capt. Mike Pizzolato and I fished Herring Point on Wednesday afternoon. We caught the falling tide down to the ebb. The wind was light southeast and the water was clear. We used cut bunker and clam. The clam failed to attract a bite. I did catch three skates on the cut bunker.

    I have had scattered reports of rockfish in the surf, but scattered is the operative word. Most of the people I talk to have caught skates and sharks, but no rock. This is what usually happens in the spring until the water warms and the rockfish finish their spawning run. Then, with a little luck, we will see much better fishing from the beach.

    FRESHWATER The spring run of herring has hit the spillway in Laurel and should soon be at the Milton Spillway. My dogwood tree is in full bloom and that is a sure sign the herring and shad are on the move.

    Bass should be bedding anytime now and will be caught in the shallow areas of state ponds. Plastic worms and spinner baits should be effective.

    Look for crappie in the ponds and spillways. They will take small minnows, grass shrimp and shad darts or crappie jigs.

    SPRING BOATING PROBLEMS Every spring most of us can count on doing some work on our boats. Perhaps we will be lucky and the motor will start right up, the first trip will go without a hitch and navigation of a sea as flat calm as a billiards table.

    My motor would not turn over. I had a problem with it in the fall when I put it away and was completely surprised when it did not heal itself over the winter. Fortunately, my mechanic was able to find the problem and fix it rather quickly. Now if I can get the batteries to my electric trolling motor charged up, clean out all the dry leaves, scrub the mildew off the seats and inflate my trailer ties to the correct level I will be all set until something else breaks.

    A few years ago I did not check the air in the tires before my first trip of the year and ended up blowing one out about a mile from the house. Of course, the spare was flat so I had to unhook the trailer, run back home, inflate the flat spare and then run back to the boat and change the tire. So much for that fishing trip.

    Another little gem that is likely to go bad in the spring is the water pump. I would change the one on my 24-foot Albemarle every other year and change the thermostat every spring. Even if it looks like it is pumping water, it may not be enough to keep the engine cool under open throttle. If you experience mysterious overheating problems, replace the water pump.

    Cooling problems with an I/O or inboard may be caused by corrosion in the manifolds. The problem can be a bit expensive, but is not a difficult job. This is a proven fact because I have done it more than once on more than one engine. I found if I take out the thermostat in the fall and run regular antifreeze through the engine before storing it for the winter the manifolds last much longer.

    Owning a boat is a wonderful thing and a joy forever; just don’t be surprised to find Mr. Murphy waiting to come aboard with you when you try to take it out for the first time this spring.

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