Welcome to the year’s first Delaware Bay Report!
Some really nice white perch were clobbered from Maurice River, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. The fish were beautiful, and no saltwater fishing reports came in yet this season. The entire weekend blew a gale, anyway. Catches of small striped bass were heard about from Delaware River from places like Elsinboro, from shore, near the Salem nuclear plant. Warm water discharged from the plant apparently attracted the fish. Sharon traveled to North Carolina this past week. Oregon Inlet there was closed to boat traffic, because of dredging. Farther south in North Carolina, boats from Hatteras returned with a few bluefin tuna and a few yellowfin tuna, not a lot of either, but some. No catches of red drum were heard about from the surf at Hatteras during the trip, though the drum fishing can turn on at this time of year. The surf was cold or 45 degrees. Bloodworms and fresh clams are stocked. Fresh bunker is on hand on occasion. Bunker were somewhat scarce this early in the season. Not many of the baitfish migrated to local waters yet, and weather often kept boats from sailing for the menhaden. Sometimes the shop’s netter only landed a bushel or 1 ½ bushels in a day, when the netter had the weather to sail. Starting this weekend, The Girls Place will be open 5 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturdays, 5 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sundays and 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays. The store’s been open fewer hours until now, but has been open. The Girls Place, located on Route 47, just after Route 55 ends, carries a large supply of bait and tackle, and is the long, one-story, yellow building on the right. It’s on the way to the bay.
Crabbing is usually opened during the weekend before Memorial Day weekend for the season at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Linda said. That would be the weekend of May 16 this year. However, the shop might participate in the Horseshoe Crab Festival in Fortescue on that date this season, renting kayaks, and so on. If so, crabbing will be opened starting on Memorial Day weekend at the shop this year. The water was cold around the shop, and the crew hadn’t even fished yet. Linda didn’t know whether white perch swam Oranokin Creek yet. Customers crab and fish on the creek on the shop’s rental boats, once the boats are made available for crabbing for the season. The boats are towed up the creek, and the staff checks on them every hour. If customers need a break in the meantime, they simply cell phone the shop to be picked up. The store is open for supplies, including jumbo minnows, big ones. The minnows grow large, because the crew raises them throughout winter. Beaver Dam’s minnows are often considerably larger than elsewhere, throughout the year, because the crew raises them. Other stores buy minnows from suppliers who net them in the wild. Minnows can also be on hand at Beaver Dam when other shops can’t supply them, like when minnows are often scarce in the wild in spring, because the baitfish don’t pot in cold water. The big minnows are currently great for chain pickerel bait for freshwater fishing. When summer flounder season is opened later this spring, the bait will be super for flounder in saltwater. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.
Drum fishing usually sails the bay in May on the Heavy Hitter, Capt. George said. Those trips are being booked, and blackfish could be targeted aboard the ocean, and blackfish season is open this month. The ocean warmed to 45 degrees, according to the news. Trips aboard will striped bass fish on the bay or ocean, if stripers can be boated this spring from Cape May. One of the mates from the boat tied into striped bass, none keepers, but plenty, on Delaware River, from shore at Elsinboro, on bloodworms recently. The fish were up to 24 or 26 inches, and many were small, like 18 or 22 inches. The angler thinks the migration of large stripers will arrive soon, George guessed. George did seasonal maintenance on the boat this weekend in dry dock, and hopes to splash the vessel in the next week for the fishing season.
Striped bass will eventually be slid from the bay’s surf, at places like Reed’s Beach, in Cape May this spring, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. That’s some of the best surf angling in the town. Stripers can pop into the ocean surf in spring in the town, but the bay’s surf angling is usually consistent for a time during the season. An occasional drum is usually in the mix. The water was 44 degrees recently at the Cape May ferry, near the bay, at the mouth of Cape May Canal. A few anglers currently landed throwback stripers from the back bay along the sod banks on warmer days. That was on soft-plastic lures, worked slowly along bottom. Throwback stripers were pulled in from rivers and creeks at warm water near power plants, like Delaware River near the Salem nuclear plant, and, farther north, Oyster Creek, the warm-water discharge from Forked River nuclear plant. Blackfish season was opened Wednesday for the month. The tautog might bite in deep, warmer water in the ocean. Whether they’d bite closer to shore yet was unknown.