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Delaware Bay Report

Report from Tuesday, August 26.

| Port Elizabeth | Newport | Fortescue | Cape May | Last Week's Report |
THIS REPORT IS UPDATED EVERY TUESDAY
Port Elizabeth
Fishing for summer flounder seemed slower the past couple of weeks than before on the bay, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. But anglers still sailed for them, and this was still the time to do that. Cooler water, because of cooler weather, seemed to make the flatfish stick around in the bay longer than during some years, before the fluke migrate to the ocean for the year. The bay’s flounder fishing was good earlier this season. Anglers now sometimes talked about numerous throwbacks. Forecasts for rough weather kept some from fishing the bay this weekend, though the shop still had business during the days. Without hearing a lot about flounder, maybe better catches were possible, but anglers just didn’t get after them. Even if the fishing is slower than before, the fish are still in, and won’t be later. Sharon would fish for them if she had more time. Trips will likely get into big flounder again later in summer, but in the ocean. Nothing was heard about the ocean fishing recently, and most customers who fish for flounder, fish the bay. Croaker fishing wasn’t bad in the rivers and ditches. Croakers even swam far up Maurice River, and that was unusual. White perch, catfish and even striped bass are usual catches there. The croakers in rivers and ditches weren’t a bad size. Spots had been around, somewhat, and might’ve become scarcer recently. Fish like spots and weakfish that prefer warm water seemed scarcer than usual this year, because of cooler water. No good reports were heard about weakfish, though the trout were reported earlier this year, when they push in during spring a moment to spawn. Afterward, they usually become scarcer a moment and return heavily in summer. A variety of fish can usually be hooked around the bay’s lighthouses now. That can include puppy drum, striped bass, weakfish and more. Plenty of customers geared up for crabbing. Baits stocked include minnows, shedder crabs, fresh bunker that arrives several times a week, fresh, shucked clams, and eels. Customers started to ask for eels more often, so more might begin to be carried. Clams in the shell are carried when demand for them picks up. Customers sometimes asked for green crabs for blackfishing, but no green crabs are stocked during the current one-blackfish bag limit. Demand is too low, but green crabs are stocked when the limit is increased in autumn. Other baits including clams can be dunked for blackfish. 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.

Newport
The new moon was on Monday, and crabs were definitely shedding and mating, said Paul from Beaver Dam Boat Rentals. Crabbing wasn’t good, and new and full moons can trigger the blueclaws to shed and mate. Crabs won’t eat when that happens, making them difficult to trap. That usually lasts three to five days, and maybe crabbing will “cut loose” by the weekend. Crabbing hasn’t been the best this season, probably because of the cold winter and even Hurricane Sandy the year before. Both events killed crabs, the hurricane shoving crabs inland to die, and the winter freezing many. Two generations were affected. The last full moon, the super moon, two weeks ago, slowed crabbing an unusually long time. Crabbing was coming off some adverse influences. But this weekend will be between moons, usually ideal for crabbing. The crabs that were trapped were decent-sized, and crabs shed to grow throughout summer. Many crabbers prefer this late season for crab size. Fishing improved for customers. Catches sometimes included good-sized white perch, a few croakers and a few small striped bass from the creek. A decent run of small drum, babies, showed up there, like can happen this time of season in the state’s back waters. Some spots even showed up. A couple of rental-boat trips only fished, didn’t crab. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. The staff checks on them every hour, and if crabbers want a break in the meantime, they simply cell-phone the store to be picked up. Reserve the boats ahead of time, because they can book up. A 7-inch crab, nabbed on the shop’s first day of crabbing this year, is the crab to beat in the season-long contest for the largest. The rental-boater with the biggest will win a free rental next year. Rental canoes and kayaks are available to paddle the scenic creek. Beaver Dam hosts groups like scouts, family reunions and birthday parties, and can offer an educational day about the environment. Check out Beaver Dam’s online store for gifts. A card for a 15% discount is available for holiday gifts, when customers request in person. Beaver Dam will be open daily for crabbing through Labor Day. Afterward, crabbing will be available on Fridays through Sundays, but the store will remain open daily for supplies and bait. Beaver Dam carries everything needed for a day of crabbing, from bait, traps and nets to suntan lotion, snacks and drinks. Fishing bait includes minnows, and the store raises them, unlike other shops, so the baitfish are unusually large.

Fortescue
Summer flounder, not a lot, but some, including a few keepers, were decked on the party boat Salt Talk, Capt. Howard said. Probably 10 percent hooked were keepers, and the angling slowed compared with earlier this season. Still, this cooler summer seemed to hold flounder in the bay later than usual, before they migrate to the ocean for the year. The Salt Talk’s temperature gauge said the water surface was 79 degrees, the same as in past weeks. But other captains were heard on the radio saying the bay was in the mid-70s. Jim Butler on Saturday’s trip bagged two flounder, and both weighed about 4 pounds or more, and he won the pool. Mike Buehler won Sunday’s pool, but Howard didn’t get the fish’s weight. Bluefish and banded rudderfish were also swung aboard trips. The rudderfish were unusual, but lots swam the bay, and anglers took them home to eat. The boat fished between the wreck buoy and the shipping channel through the weekend, including because of rough weather. Wind blew strongly on Saturday and somewhat less on Sunday. A trip earlier in the week fished at the stakes, but not much bit there. Other boaters landed a few croakers closer to shore. The Salt Talk is fishing for summer flounder daily when no charter is booked.

Cape May
The northern bay toward Miah Maul and Fortescue seemed to fish best for summer flounder, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Not much was heard about flounder from the bay near Cape May, the southern bay. Most customers who fished for flounder worked the ocean, and catches were good there at Reef 11 and the Old Grounds. Cape May Reef on the ocean also turned out some. On the bay, decent-sized croakers were yanked-in near Bug Light. Surf anglers hit the croakers at the concrete ship. Blackfish were boated along the rocks at Brandywine on the bay, and were cranked up along the jetties at Calpe May Inlet. Snapper bluefish swarmed around Cape May Point. Sand tiger sharks, required to be released, haunted the surf at night. Mullet started to be seen in the surf, so anglers might keep an eye out for early season striped bass in the water that might feed on them. Other baitfish, including lots of peanut bunker, filled the back bay. The baitfish will pour into the ocean this fall, feeding the migration of stripers and blues. Minnows, fresh clams, jumbo and regular-sized bloodworms, and green crabs are stocked.

Last Week's Report
Newport

After 9 inches deluged the local area last Tuesday, crabbing was terrible, including this weekend, because of the freshwater, said Linda from Beaver Dam Boat Rentals. Catches started to pick up a little now. When crabbing is slow like that, the shop is supplementing catches with gratis crabs from the supply it sells, when the blueclaws are available. Plus, on a slow day like that, the shop has offered crabs for only $10 a dozen to crabbers who wanted even more, when the crabs were available, and that’s a great price. Crab sizes were healthy, and crabbers had a shot at the big ones if crab traps were weighed enough. The traps had to be sunk to the bottom for the large crabs. Crabs were still seen that were paired, though the mating usually happens around full or new moons for several days, and the full moon was two weekends ago. But that was the super moon, closer to earth than usual, exerting stronger gravitational pull, and greater influence on crabs, apparently. The new moon is this weekend, and both moons can trigger crabs to mate or shed. That can affect crabbing, because crabs won’t eat while mating or shedding. But not all crabs mate or shed at once, and not all moons trigger either. Fishing remained alright, giving up white perch, croakers and spots. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. The staff checks on them every hour, and if crabbers want a break in the meantime, they simply cell-phone the store to be picked up. Reserve the boats ahead of time, because they can book up. Beaver Dam is hosting an event for Wounded Warriors this Friday, so especially reserve boats for that day. Rental canoes and kayaks are available to paddle the scenic creek. Beaver Dam hosts groups and events like scouts, family reunions and birthdays, and can offer an educational day about the environment. Check out Beaver Dam’s online store for gifts. A card for a 15% discount is available for holiday gifts, when customers request in person at the shop. Beaver Dam will be open daily for crabbing through Labor Day. Afterward, crabbing will be available on Fridays through Sundays, but the store will remain open daily for supplies and bait. Beaver Dam carries everything needed for a day of crabbing, from bait, traps and nets to suntan lotion, snacks and drinks. Fishing bait includes minnows, and the store raises them, unlike other shops, so the baitfish are unusually large.

Fortescue

Summer flounder fishing this past week was a little slower than before, said Capt. Howard from the party boat Salt Talk. A few keepers were managed, and more throwbacks were hooked than keepers, of course. The number of throwbacks caught was probably fewer than previously. Sometimes long drifts of the boat produced no bites. The boat usually drifted well for the fishing on Saturday in beautiful weather. Sunday was somewhat windy. A few bluefish hit, and a few sand sharks chewed. Sharks were mostly sand sharks recently. A few were brown sharks, but browns were less abundant than before. Browns are required to be released, but can be sizeable. Trips fished at the stakes, the slough between the wreck buoy and the Old House, the shipping channel near the Old House, and the deep toward Miah Maul. Only junk fish bit in the channel near the Old House. A few croakers that were hooked were heard about from a trip on another boat that fished for blues inshore. More croakers, and bigger, seemed to swim creeks than the bay. Weather was cooler than usual this season, and a couple of mornings were 55 or 57 degrees this past week. That might’ve prolonged the bay’s flounder fishing this year, before the fish migrate to the ocean. After flounder departed last year, and flounder season closed, kingfish put up a fishery aboard the bay, before striped bass fishing in fall. Open-boat trips are fishing for summer flounder daily when no charter is booked.

A few summer flounder and a few blues were decked, nothing great, but some fish managed to be scraped up on every trip on the party boat Bonanza II, Capt. Mike said. A few croakers were also found, and one trip ran into some puppy drum. Trips mostly fished in the middle of the bay around the Ditch, but the croakers were located farther south in the bay. A couple of trips were weathered out last week, and the water wasn’t really clear afterward, through the weekend. But the bay seemed to be clearing up, and maybe that will perk up catches, but anglers will see. More than a month remains before flounder season is closed on September 28, and trips will keep after them on the bay. One of the special trips to the Old Grounds is slated to fish for flounder on Wednesday, August 27, and reservations are required. Telephone to reserve: 609-381-2978. The Old Grounds is an area of rocky bottom in the ocean off the state of Delaware that can attract flounder, including large, and other fish, like sea bass. Flounder fishing there lit up a little recently, and Mike hopes that continues. Special trips to the Old Grounds are run aboard each year for flounder. Open-boat trips are fishing for summer flounder on the bay daily when no charter is booked.

Cape May

A group of six from Harrisburg fished the bay Saturday with Fins and Feathers Outfitters, Capt. Jim said. They tugged in 40 or 50 summer flounder, including one keeper, a small cobia and small blues. The trip fished the stakes near Fortescue and toward Miah Maul, and seas were flat calm. After the anglers departed, Jim headed back on the bay with a friend that day, and they fished 60-Foot Slough and the mouth of Cape May Canal. Not much was doing in the area, and two throwback flounder were released. No boats were seen at 60-Foot and the mouth of the canal, but boats were seen toward the Punk Grounds, the 19 buoy and 14-Foot Light. The trip fished for flounder with Gulps and minnows on double-hooked rigs. Gulps definitely caught better. Fins and Feathers offers a variety of outdoor adventures, including duck and goose hunting, during the waterfowl seasons. Anglers can even enjoy a combo of duck hunting and striped bass fishing on Delaware Bay over a series of days in autumn. Fins also offers salmon and steelhead fishing on upstate New York’s Salmon River from Jim’s lodge. The salmon fishing can begin around Labor Day, but the first trip is booked for the first days of October, when the angling should be peaking. Fins also fly-fishes for trout on Pennsylvania’s streams like the Yellow Breeches.

Not a lot was heard about summer flounder fishing on the bay locally, but the catches were heard about from near the Old House toward Fortescue, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Ocean fishing for flounder sounded good at wrecks and reefs, at places like the Old Grounds and Reef 11. A couple of customers scored well on flounder at Cape May Reef on the ocean. Another at Cape May Reef pounded four keeper flounder, 12 sizeable bluefish and a few bonito. Carol Hanson wrenched a 7-1/2-pound 26-inch flounder from Cape May Canal. Lots of flounder carpeted the back bay, but catching a keeper was tough. Croakers were around in the back bay, but were small. Croakers were also around in the surf at Cape May. Flounder came from the surf around Cape May Point, and snapper blues kicked around the water there. Sharks were fought from the local surf. Blackfishing could be good along jetties.