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Delaware Bay Report

Report from Tuesday, May 24.

| Port Elizabeth | Money Island | Newport | Wildwood | Cape May | Last Week's Report |
THIS REPORT IS UPDATED EVERY TUESDAY
Port Elizabeth
Some drum were boated on the lower bay, on the New Jersey side, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. “I don’t know that anyone loaded up,” she said, and most reports talked about a trip catching one or two. One crew reported five or six taken on an outing. Weather was often windy or rough around the weekend, and not a lot of anglers sailed. Summer flounder season opened beginning Saturday, and feedback was scarce in the weather. A few customers headed for flounder fishing, and results were yet to be heard. This year’s flounder regulations include a smaller, 17-inch, minimum size and a four-fish limit on Delaware Bay, compared with an 18-inch minimum size and five-fish limit in most of the rest of the state. Click the link for details, including regs about legally transporting flounder smaller than 18 inches aboard Cape May Canal. Good striped bass fishing was sometimes boated near Bug Light and off Reed’s Beach and Pierce’s Point. Chunks of fresh bunker are popular bait for that, but clams and bloodworms were also fished for stripers, depending on location. Several reports said large striped bass, like 40 pounds, were sometimes beached from the ocean surf at Avalon. Puppy drum were heaved from the surf at times. One angler landed some in the surf near Corson’s Inlet. Big blues were sometimes fought from back bays. Weather was tough, but a variety of fish were around, and forecasts look like weather might improve. Weakfish were also around, Sharon knew, though few anglers target them in the one-weakfish bag limit. This weekend, Memorial Day weekend, is traditionally when recreationally crabbing becomes popular for the season. Not a lot was reported about crabbing yet, but a few people reported decent crabbing from waters near the ocean coast. Commercial crabbers caught but said catches dropped off compared with crabs they trapped at first this season a moment. Commercial crabbers saw signs that the blueclaws might’ve been about to shed for the first time this year, saying shedder crabs might be available for bait this weekend. When shedders are available, the shop will stock them. Fresh clams have been stocked every other day or so. Fresh bunker have been stocked every day. Baits carried also include minnows, popular for flounder, and bloodworms. 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.

Money Island
From Money Island Marina, a couple of trips sailed for summer flounder Saturday, opening day of flounder season, but no results were heard, Bruce said. Weather was stiff that day and throughout the weekend, and on previous days, for that matter. Customers will be all about flounder now, but they need better weather for getting after the fish. Forecasts look like that might be coming. Trips will still fish for striped bass from the marina this season, but news about the angling was unavailable in the weather, too. Customers had been boating large striped bass near Salem nuclear plant on bunker chunks. Those fish might’ve migrated south in the bay, headed for the ocean, by now, but anglers will see. No trips usually run for drum on the bay this far north. Drum usually bite in the southern bay, a long trip from the local bay. Nobody fished from the fishing docks in the weather. That’ll probably change this Memorial Day weekend. The shop will offer barbecues with talks about the bay this fishing season, beginning on Sunday. A Marina Barbecue and Lecture will be held 2 to 5 p.m. that day at the marina on Money Island’s conversion to aquaculture. Steamed crabs, barbecued chicken, corn on the cob and salads will be served. The event is open to the public, but a donation is requested to help future food costs. Click the link for more info. The marina features a bait and tackle shop, a boat ramp, boat slips, dry-dock boat storage, fishing docks and gas. The fishing docks, $5 per adult and free for kids, are located on Nantuxent Creek, running passed the marina. Angling can be good from the docks, including for white perch, small striped bass, and croakers, at different times of year. A 12-foot aluminum boat with a 2.5 h.p. outboard is available to rent to fish the creek. Additional fishing docks and rental boats are expected to be launched this year. Bait stocked can include fresh bunker, live grass shrimp and minnows when in demand. Minnows are popular flounder bait, and the minnow tank was just being set up.

Newport
Crabbing will become available beginning this weekend for the year at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Paul said. It’ll be available Friday through Monday this weekend, Memorial Day weekend, and Saturdays and Sundays afterward, until it’s available daily beginning in late June. Paul dropped a trap into the creek at the shop, and crabs definitely began to be seen. About half were keepers, usual for the time of year. His brother said crabs were nabbed well at Cape May. Those waters are different from near Beaver Dam, but signs were seen that customers might trap crabs this weekend. Crabbing at the shop usually begins either before crabbing on Delaware Bay does, because water can be warmer in the shop’s back waters, or after the bay’s crabbing, if colder weather attracts crabs to deep water. Crabs had retreated to deep water in the bay earlier this season, apparent because the bay’s commercial crabbers set pots deeper. That could be different now, and the only way to know is for crabbers to hit the shop’s waters. Nobody fished the creek at the store, but anglers at the bridge hooked small white perch. So Paul would assume perch swam the creek at the shop. Some of the boats that customers reserved for the weekend were for experienced anglers Paul knew, so more should be known about the creek’s fishing after the trips. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running passed the store. Reserve the boats ahead, because they book up. Beaver Dam carries everything needed for crabbing, from bait, traps and nets to snacks, drinks and suntan lotion. Rental kayaks and canoes are available to paddle the scenic creek, on the days the rental boats are available. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.

Wildwood
“Drum are biting,” Capt. Jim from Fins & Grins Sport Fishing wrote in a text during a trip Sunday evening aboard, and included several photos of the fish. He telephoned minutes afterward, saying the trip was fishing Delaware Bay, and catching. Two of the fish in the photos were from that day, and one was from the previous day, aboard. He couldn’t speak long, but trips are drumming on the bay. Summer flounder fishing was a little slow on the back bay on this opening weekend of flounder fishing, in cool water. Sea bass season opened Monday, and Fins fishes for all species available. Trips are slated to fish daily, and reservations aren’t required but suggested. Telephone for availability.

Cape May
Two drum were boated already, and another was landed, when Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter gave this report on a trip Sunday evening in a phone call on the bay, he said. The third was hooked, fought and gaffed aboard, as he spoke. The first two weighed 20 and 40 pounds, and the third weighed 40. That was with Ray DeCrane’s charter, and lots of sharks and skates bit. The angling was mostly slow for the fleet, fishing on the New Jersey side of the bay, 1 ½ miles north of Cape May Canal. On boats that fished for them Friday, some trips heaved in a good catch, like seven or eight, and the rest caught one or two. George wasn’t asked whether a trip fished Saturday aboard, and he didn’t mention Saturday. Weather was rough that day, and maybe no trip sailed because of that. On Sunday’s trip, a light breeze blew, but seas were a 1-foot roll, calm, not bad. A little drizzle fell. A couple of boats during the trip heard the fish drumming, and George heard none so far on the outing. Whenever he hears drumming, he seems not to catch. Sea bass season opened today, and trips for them are available on the ocean.

Not much was doing with drum fishing on the bay on the party boat Porgy IV, Capt. Paul said Wednesday, in his most recent report for this website. Trips aboard had been catching the fish on the Delaware side of the bay. Then the catches began to be reported from the New Jersey side, and the boat fished there. But now the vessel was back on the Delaware side, when Paul gave this report that evening. He was on a trip fishing the Delaware side then at 6:30. No drum were landed on the trip, running 2 to 10 p.m., so far. But drum fishing can be up and down and change in an instant, depending on when the fish want to bite. Another captain on the water Sunday said he was fishing among a fleet on the Jersey side, just north of Cape May Canal, and said the Porgy IV was there. The boat had returned to that side. The Porgy IV was slated to switch to sea bass fishing daily on the ocean beginning Monday, opening day of sea bass season. The vessel is a bottom-fishing boat for catches like that, and fished for drum between blackfish and sea bass seasons.

Good striped bass catches were still had, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle on Thursday. Both boaters and surf anglers pasted them, and boaters hooked them on Delaware Bay in shallows near shore on chunks of bunker. Or they trolled the bass on the ocean. Surf casters banked the fish on the bay on bunker or on the ocean on bunker or clams. Lures connected well at both places for shore anglers. When the boaters and surf anglers found the stripers, the fish often seemed big, in the mid-30 inches to mid-40s. Photos were posted on Hands’ Facebook page. Boating for drum seemed a little slow the past couple of days on Delaware Bay, he said that day. But the fishing might amp up during last weekend’s full moon, he said at the time. May’s moon is often a time for drum. Bluefish were sometimes around, like blues that popped up at Poverty Beach the other day. Anglers began to report weakfish taken at times at jetties on bloodworms under a float or soft-plastic lures on bucktail jigs. A couple of trips scouted for summer flounder on the back bay, before last weekend’s opening of flounder season. They picked the fish and released them and also some on Delaware Bay.

Last Week's Report
Port Elizabeth

One of the party boats that buys bait from the shop reportedly totaled 14 or 15 drum from the bay Friday and four Saturday, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. Drum might’ve been boated from the Delaware side of the bay this season, but were hooked from the New Jersey side recently. Weather was difficult for boating beginning in the storm Saturday. Wind blew terribly Sunday and strongly Monday, and also blew more often than not in the recent past. Sometimes lots of dogfish were a nuisance during drum fishing. Good catches of striped bass were made from Fortescue’s surf this past week. If shore anglers caught them, boaters could probably catch the bass in the area. Stripers were reported boated from the bay in the Cape May area tight to shore. The netter found a few weakfish, not large, in the catch lately from the bay. On Maurice River, good white perch fishing was nabbed, and stripers were picked. Commercial crabbing somewhat dropped off recently, apparently because of cooler weather. But Sharon sees crabbing boats from the bay daily, and they caught the blueclaws, and the crabbing was better currently than this time last year. Fresh clams, favorite bait for drum, were stocked, but were difficult to obtain in the weather that kept clam boats from running. Clams were provided in the order that anglers requested the bait. Order them ahead. Fresh bunker were usually on hand, when the supplier could sail for them. 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.

Money Island

Wind kept boaters from fishing the bay throughout the weekend from
Money Island Marina, Bruce said. One angler attempted to fish from the dock and quit in 5 minutes because of the weather. Docks were rocking and rolling. Customers dropped off boats for the fishing season this weekend, but didn’t even launch them in the slips, because of the weather. Striped bass could surely be found on the bay from the marina. Previously, customers bunker-chunked them near Salem nuclear plant. An angler shared a photo of one of those last week on the shop’s Facebook page. Drum fishing is usually far from the marina, on the southern bay, so boaters from the docks don’t typically sail for them, and reports about drum are uncommon locally. The marina features a bait and tackle shop, a boat ramp, boat slips, dry-dock boat storage, fishing docks and gas. The fishing docks, $5 per adult and free for kids, are located on Nantuxent Creek, running passed the marina. Angling can be good from the docks, including for white perch, small striped bass, and croakers, at different times of year. A 12-foot aluminum boat with a 2.5 h.p. outboard is available to rent to fish the creek. Additional fishing docks and rental boats are expected to be launched this year. Bait stocked can include fresh bunker, live grass shrimp and minnows when in demand.

Newport

Crabbing will become available Saturday and Sunday for the crabbing season at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Paul said. It’ll be available on weekends beginning then and daily beginning in late June. Someone crabbed around the corner, landing four keepers and lots of 2-inch throwbacks. The throwbacks could bode well for July, when the 2-inchers grow to keeper-sized. The moon will be full this weekend, and sometimes crabs shed on full and new moons. Sometimes crabs begin to shed only after weather and water become warmer. Weather was 39 degrees yesterday morning. A commercial crabber docked 10 bushels of females and two dozen No. 1 males or Jimmies from the bay. A “she run” seemed on. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running passed the shop. Everything needed for crabbing is stocked, from bait, traps and nets to snacks, drinks and suntan lotion. Though crabbing from the rental boats will only be available on weekends for now, the store is open daily for supplies. When the rental boats are available, so are rental kayaks and canoes to paddle the scenic creek. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.

Fortescue

Trips for drum are slated to sail soon with Erica Leigh Charters, Capt. Tom said. On one boat, 18 were landed and 10 were lost Friday. On Saturday, many boats were skunked that fished for the boomers. The difference was amazing. Striped bass were sometimes beached from Fortescue’s surf. One woman banked two good-sized the other night.

Cape May

Boaters reported dynamite, lights out, fishing for drum Thursday and Friday on the bay, said Capt. George from the Heavy Hitter. That was on the New Jersey side of the bay, and the fishing became slow Saturday. A trip that day aboard caught none. A few were landed among the fleet that day, and anglers hope the fishing lights back up. Just seemed a slow day. George heard the fish drumming a few times and marked drum on Saturday’s trip. Weather began pleasant, then stormy weather began rolling through, then weather calmed again, that day. George canceled a trip Sunday for the drum, because of forecasts for wind. The day ended up windy. Anglers are reporting boating a few striped bass in the bay’s shallows, close to shore, off places like the Villas and Bidwell Creek, on bunker chunks. Sometimes as many as seven or eight stripers were reported from a trip, and that angling seemed slow Saturday, too. A few of the bass were reeled in. George looks forward to sea bass fishing on the ocean, once sea bass season is opened beginning next Monday. Telephone if interested in any of this fishing. Summer flounder season will be opened beginning Saturday, but Heavy Hitter’s flounder trips usually sail later in the year, because they usually target ocean reefs. The ocean warms enough for flounder to bite there later in the year. Flounder will probably be caught in back bays – warmer, shallower water – when the season opens.

Five drum were decked from the bay two Saturdays ago on the party boat Porgy IV, Capt. Paul said. That was the year’s first trip for them aboard, and seven drum were totaled two days later on the boat, on Monday of last week. The next trip sailed on Wednesday, and four were caught, and two broke off, so far at 6 o’clock that evening, when he gave this report on the outing in a phone call. Another was hooked and was being fought when he spoke. Drum had begun to bite, and the trips fished on the Delaware side of the bay. Wednesday night’s trip fished 2 to 3 miles off Delaware, when he gave this report. No drum really bit on the New Jersey side then that Paul knew about. But that will change any time, and the boat will fish the Jersey side then, he said. That did change, and the fish began biting on the Jersey side in the next days, according to other reports on this page. Most of the drum caught were smaller or 25 to 35 pounds, until that time, at least, but a couple of better-sized were landed on Wednesday’s trip so far. The Porgy IV is fishing for drum 2 to 10 p.m. on every day when enough anglers sign up and weather is fit. Telephone for availability.

Fishing was pretty good, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Striped bass, big, including 40-inchers, were picked from Cape May’s surf last week. They all seemed quality fish, hooked on fresh bunker. They were mostly weighed from Delaware Bay in town, but also came from the ocean surf in Cape May. A few drum were clammed from the surf. Bluefishing seemed to slow locally, and mostly produced farther north. But blues probably still popped up in the ocean, and at Cape May Rips, like chasing bunker. Boaters on Delaware Bay began to fight drum to 35 or 40 pounds last week. That was on the New Jersey side, and a few boaters headed to the Delaware side, off Slaughter Beach, to catch. On the Jersey side, the drum came from places like close to shore off Coxhall Creek. Boaters bunker-chunked a few large striped bass in the bay tight to shore, like in 4- or 5-foot depths, in areas like off the Villas. A few customers worked the back bay for smaller stripers. A few pre-fished for out-of-season summer flounder on the back bay, releasing the fluke, trying to figure where they swam for the season opening beginning Saturday. The population of the flatfish seemed to be picking up there.