Tue., May 26, 2015
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Delaware Bay Report

Report from Tuesday, May 26.

| Port Elizabeth | Newport | Fortescue | Cape May | Last Week's Report |
Port Elizabeth
Drum fishing fell off in past days on the bay, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. The reason couldn’t be known, but the angling seems to undergo lulls like this at times, and wasn’t finished, anglers hoped. Sometimes anglers think the lull is because of spawning, when the fish don’t feed. Drum enter the bay to spawn, after all. Sometimes the fishing seems to come on like gangbusters a moment at first, lull afterward, and come back on again. The full moon is coming up, and the fishing can be good around this full. The angling began late this year, like much fishing did, apparently because of cold water this spring. So whether spawning was the reason for the current slowdown couldn’t be known. Trips had caught 10 or 12 drum apiece last week. That slowed starting about Thursday. Drum could’ve moved to other locations. But the fish were still marked, and customers who fished for them two or three times a week said they read the drum, but the fish wouldn’t bite. Drum do move during the season, and might be caught deeper, at places like Tussy’s Slough or the Pin Top, if they bite again. Until now, they were boated in shallows 10 or 12 feet on the New Jersey side of the bay. Nothing was heard about the Delaware side, because customers caught on the Jersey side, had no reason to sail to Delaware. Wind was pretty relentless lately, maybe another reason for the slowdown. Wind might’ve been calm in mornings, but built up strongly during the day into afternoon, sometimes calming in evenings. Drum bite softly, and wind could make the fishing difficult, when boats bob like a cork in a storm. Lots of sharks and skates began to bite. That could be an indication that drum moved. Almost all the bay’s boaters drum fished until now. Summer flounder season was opened starting Friday, and some keepers were heard about, mostly from back bays. Croakers sometimes schooled Delaware Bay. Big bluefish swam all around, like before. Big striped bass were caught at Atlantic City and Brigantine. So some of those remained locally, and one woman hauled in a 58-inch striper from the surf at Cape May in the Delaware Bay area. A few weakfish bit along the jetties. Clams, the favorite bait for drum, were stocked but scarce last week. They were scarce throughout the state, for several reasons. One was that clams simply seemed over-harvested. That seemed a reason large clams were especially difficult to obtain. Smaller were more common. The supply of fresh bunker was okay, though bunker was in less demand. The supply of minnows, a favorite flounder bait, was also okay. Minnows might become scarce in June sometime. Spawning seemed to cut back on the supply then in past years for a moment. 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 was kicked off for the season this weekend at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Paul said. Many small crabs were trapped, rental-boaters said, and maybe 1 in 10 was a keeper. But most boats averaged three dozen keepers on Saturday, and two dozen on Sunday. The blueclaws were caught, and “signs” seemed good. Many of the throwbacks were a quarter-inch undersized, and when crabs shed on the next moon, those should grow larger than keeper-sized. Crabs shed to grow on full and new moons. This beginning of crabbing was much better than last year’s, and water froze less during this winter than the previous winter, maybe a reason. Maybe the cold killed more crabs during last year’s winter. Not much happened with fishing on the creek this weekend, probably because low tides happened in the middle of the day. Customers on one of the boats made a serious effort at fishing during the weekend, landing two large white perch. Good catches this time of year can include the perch, throwback stripers and sometimes croakers in the creek. Croakers usually arrive somewhat later, but have appeared this time of season, in the past. Croakers caught were heard about from Delaware Bay, currently. A few minnows are stocked, and a strong supply will become available soon. The minnows are known for large size, because Paul raises them. The store doesn’t get the baitfish from suppliers, who trap them in the wild, like most stores do. Paul had to do maintenance on the livewells, so the supply became limited, but is coming back strongly. Customers crab and fish from rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. The staff checks on them every hour, and if customers want a break in the meantime, they simply cell phone the shop to be picked up. The annual largest crab contest will be held this year again. The rental-boater with the year’s largest blueclaw will win a free boat rental next year. A Father’s Day Special will be offered this year, like in past years, and details will be announced. A police versus firefighters crab-off will be held, like last year. Whichever side docks the most crabs during about a week wins a discount on boats for all police or firefighters for the rest of the month, depending on which side wins. Last year, the crab-off was held in the week leading up to July Fourth. Beaver Dam stocks everything needed for a day of crabbing, from bait, traps and nets to suntan lotion, snacks and drinks. Rental kayaks and canoes are available to paddle the scenic creek. The rental boats, kayaks and canoes are currently available every Saturday and Sunday, and will become available daily on June 29 for the season. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.

Drum trips caught zip Friday and Saturday aboard, but so did trips on most other boats, said Capt. Tom from Erica Leigh Charters. The fishing was great previously, and he assumed the drum now began to spawn. This happens every year. The catches light up a week or two, and suddenly stop, about five days, apparently because of spawning. Then the fishing kicks right back in. Erica Leigh fished off the Villas. The angling was the same, slow, on boats that fished elsewhere. One of the party boats, and a party-boat sized charter vessel, fished another spot. Many boats fished at Cape May Channel. A friend fished at Little Egypt. Drum fishing lasts about five weeks on the bay. By mid-June, the angling’s not worthwhile. Puppy drum can be caught toward the lighthouse rock piles through summer, but that’s not fishing worth targeting, except as an extra on a trip. A few clams might be fished for them on other trips, like for flounder. If anglers telephone for drum fishing, Tom will wait to sail until catches turn back on. But that could be soon. After drum fishing ends, trips aboard will home in on summer flounder and other catches, like weakfish, on the bay. Flounder season was opened starting Friday, but nothing was heard about the angling on the bay. The fleet drum fished. But flounder trips are available currently, if anglers want. Flounder trips are more economical than drum charters, because flounder trips don’t need to sail as far.

Cape May
A couple of drum were boated Friday on the bay on the Heavy Hitter, Capt. George said. But that was a much slower catch than previously aboard, when trips cleaned up on good catches of drum. A trip aboard Sunday returned to port early, because drum fishing was dead. Maybe the fish were spawning, and the angling should pick back up. Drum could definitely be found, were marked. A few trips on other boats landed drum Sunday that were known about. Three were decked on a boat from the docks, biting immediately, when the trip began fishing. Two or three were taken that day on a larger, party-boat-sized charter vessel, after none was bagged on the boat on the previous several trips. On Friday’s trip, with Doug Ahn, on the Heavy Hitter, one of the drum weighed 50 pounds, and the other was small. Summer flounder season was opened starting Friday, and the Heavy Hitter begins flounder fishing later this year, when waters warm. The boat usually fishes for flounder on the ocean, at places like Reef 11 and the Old Grounds.

Last Week's Report
Port Elizabeth

Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle had been away from the shop a few days, she said. But sounded like a few drum began to be picked from the bay. That was somewhat late, but fishing seemed to run late this spring, after the cold winter. Bluefish arrived late, maybe a week, and big bluefish currently swarmed everywhere, from the bay to the ocean. A population of blues like this hadn’t shown up in a few years, and seemed a good sign for the fishing season, she thought. Plus, when blues are around like this, striped bass usually are. Not much was heard about striper fishing from boats, and not a lot of anglers had boats in the water yet. One marina did report stripers could be boated from the bay. The shop’s bunker netter, who works the bay toward East Point and Egg Island Point, saw large stripers to 50 inches in the nets. So stripers were around in the bay. Striper catches this season were first heard about from shore at places like Fortescue and Reed’s Beach on the bay. Later, stripers were really nailed on Delaware River. Some beautiful, big stripers were reeled from there. Stripers now spawned in the river and began migrating downstream to the bay and ocean. Sharon’s boated stripers in the bay as late as mid-June. If anglers fish for them, they catch. Sometimes that can especially happen at Blake Channel, on the Delaware side of the bay, across from Miah Maul Lighthouse, as the stripers migrate from the river. A few croakers even showed up last week. Some fish are around right now, or fishing is good. Lots of fresh bunker and fresh clams were sold for bait this past week. The shop was probably the busiest of the season. The supply of bunker’s been good, and quite a few bunker schooled the bay. How was the supply of clams? Sharon was asked. “Clams are clams,” she said. At the beginning of last week, clams were bigger that were available. Afterward, they were smaller. Demand for clams will pick up, including because of drum fishing. The quality of bloodworms wasn’t good last week, and that happens, maybe once a month, because of spawning. Bigger worms become unavailable then, and the bloods available then are softer and fragile. Little was heard about crabbing yet this season. Whether crabbing picked up or not was unknown. 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 on the rental boats will become available on Saturday, May 23, for the season at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Linda said. That’s Memorial Day weekend, and little was known about how crabbing was currently, because the crabbing’s not been available yet at the shop this year. But crabs were seen in the creek, and throwback crabs, lots, were heard about. The creek was beginning to “wake up,” she said, and the water was 60 degrees, cooler than usual. “It’s been such a late spring,” she said. A commercial crabber this week said crab catches were beginning stronger than last year. Nothing was known about fishing in the creek, because the rental boats were yet to be available. Customers crab and fish on rental boats towed up Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. The staff checks on them every hour, and if the customers want a break in the meantime, they simply cell phone the store to be picked up. The rental boats usually become available this weekend, the weekend before Memorial Day weekend. But Beaver Dam will instead participate in the Downe Township Horseshoe Crab Festival at Fortescue 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Saturday. Beaver Dam at the festival will offer kayaks to be tried out for $5, games for kids, some crabbing supplies for sale and, not least importantly, coupons for a 35-percent discount on a rental boat or a kayak. Beaver Dam also rents kayaks and canoes that can be paddled up the scenic creek. Speaking of scenic, the bald eagles on the grounds had triplets. The nest is one of the state’s oldest. Events for the coming season will include the Community Hero Challenge that was also held last year. That’s a crab-off between police and firefighters for a week, and the winner earns a 25-percent discount for police or firefighters for a month. Summer flounder season will be opened beginning on May 22, and the shop is known for large minnows, a favorite flounder bait. The baitfish are especially big, because the shop raises them. Most stores get minnows from suppliers. Not a huge number of minnows was in supply currently, but the ones that were, were huge. Anglers can telephone for them. The rental boats will be available on weekends, and also on Memorial Day, starting May 23. They’ll be available daily beginning June 29. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.


The party boat Salt Talk has been in the water some time, and some finishing touches are being done to it, like painting, Capt. Howard said. A Coast Guard inspection will need to be done, before the vessel can fish, and he hopes the Coast Guard can schedule that this week. The boat’s fishing for the year mostly begins with summer flounder trips, when flounder season is opened, on May 22 this year. But a few drum caught were reported from the bay farther south, and the Salt Talk might sail for them. Howard’s nephew, who fishes from Cape May, said drum were boated off the Cape May ferry, close to shore. Howard supposed the fish were also boated at the Punk Grounds, where drum often bit in recent years. Howard heard about a few flounder caught and released. His nephew let go two or three that were sizable, 19 or 20 inches, in the back bay. Open-boat trips and charters fish on the Salt Talk. Open trips will fish for flounder, when the flatfish season is opened. Those trips usually sail on weekends, sometimes on weekdays, at first during the season. They sail daily as demand increases. Anglers can telephone for the schedule.


Anglers, a bachelor party, wanted to wreck-fish on the ocean Saturday and Sunday with Fins & Grins Sport Fishing, Capt. Jim said. But a few drum began to be boated from Delaware Bay, and trips aboard will target them. The drum fishing just began, and usually peaks in mid-May, though the bites began later this year than last. A few drum were heaved from the Delaware side of the bay last week. But they began to be caught this weekend on both the Delaware and New Jersey sides. The boat fishes every day, if enough anglers want to sail, and reservations aren’t required but suggested. Telephone for availability. Jim will try to fish for drum as much as possible, but if a group wants to fish for striped bass, that’s available. Sometimes stripers can be mixed in, during drum fishing, biting the clams for bait. If trips strictly striper fish, bunker is usually the bait. The wreck-fishing reeled in lots of fish, and that’s what the anglers wanted: action. But the abundant fish on wrecks were mostly out-of-season. Many out-of-season blackfish, including good-sized, were released. So were sea bass, including sizable, and sea bass season will be opened soon, beginning on May 27. A throwback cod and an out-of-season porgy were tossed back. The trips fished different wrecks, in fog both days, moving from wrecks just to move. Plenty of fish schooled. In other news, big, slammer bluefish filled the back bay at Wildwood. Blues aren’t usually that big there. Out-of-season summer flounder, including big, bit and were released in the back bay. The flatfish season will be opened beginning on May 22.

Cape May

The Heavy Hitter sailed for drum on the bay Saturday, Capt. George said. The fishing was okay, and one was landed, and three or four were missed. Three or four caught should’ve been totaled, and the New Jersey side of the bay was fished. Most boats in the fleet picked up a couple of drum. A few drum were seen caught on surrounding boats. The fish weighed 25 pounds, and drummed away, could be heard. The angling was reportedly good Friday night. The water was 66 degrees during the fishing on the Heavy Hitter, and was 63 on the ride back to port, because of colder ocean water on incoming tide. This was the beginning of drum fishing, and charters aboard fish for them this month. Telephone if interested.

Some bigger striped bass were bombed from the surf in the past week at Cape May Point and along Delaware Bay in town, said Joe from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. Some weighed 40 pounds, and Nick, the store’s owner, clammed a 39-incher the other night. Mostly clams caught the stripers, but some were beached on bunker. Bluefish 2 to 4 pounds were dragged from the same surf the past couple of weeks. A few weakfish began to be flung from the same waters. None was huge, like 30 inches, but they were 24 inches. One angler sailed on a drum trip on the bay last week, and none of the anglers picked up the fish. A few drum might’ve been boated from the bay then, but nothing was heard about that. Out-of-season summer flounder bit in the back bay, and flounder season will be opened beginning on May 22. Fresh clams, both in the shell and shucked, fresh bunker and bloodworms were stocked.