Fri., April 28, 2017
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Delaware Bay Report

Report from Tuesday, April 25.

| Port Elizabeth | Fortescue | Cape May | Last Week's Report |
Port Elizabeth
Reports rolled in about larger striped bass, keepers, beached from shore at Fortescue on Friday and Saturday nights, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. One was 44 inches, and a small black drum was reported banked there last week. Catches seemed to be picking up on the bay. Small drum were landed from the ocean surf a while ago. Small drum usually show up first in spring, until bigger do. Boaters on the bay usually target the big drum in May. A couple of large bluefish were supposedly wrestled from Fortescue’s shore. A few of the slammers seemed to be showing up, not unusual this time of year. Striper fishing supposedly improved from shore on Delaware River, too, in the Salem and Elsinboro area. Bigger were heaved in there, after smaller had been. Not a lot of anglers had boats in the water yet this season who fish the bay. People began crabbing, and one crabber trapped more than 200, including 45 good-sized, in the Beaver Dam Boat Rentals area. Pretty much all baits are stocked. If anglers want fresh clams, calling ahead to reserve is best. The clams have been scarcer in recent years. Green crabs will be carried for blackfish bait until blackfish season is closed beginning Monday. Shedder crabs will be stocked when they become available, usually by late May. 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.

The Salt Talk is bunker-chunking for big striped bass that swim lower Delaware River this time of year, Capt. Howard said. The boat is running from Cohansey River for that, and will be returned to Fortescue afterward, for the rest of the fishing season. Salt Talk used to be a party boat. But the new Salt Talk is a smaller vessel for charters for 1 to 4 passengers. Chunking for the big bass began to produce last week and usually lasts three to four weeks. One boat landed six on Friday, ran another trip later that day, and landed seven. Those stripers were up to 36 inches. The same boat on Saturday landed seven of the fish. Outgoing tides seemed to produce. Other tides might have, but that’s the tide when Howard saw catches. At Fortescue, some big stripers seemed to be banked from shore. Howard was there Sunday, seeing a 38-incher, and an angler said a 40-incher and a 41-incher had been cranked in there. Salt Talk will charter for black drum from Fortescue when the angling begins on the bay. That usually peaks toward late May. Afterward, charters aboard will sail for summer flounder on the bay.

Cape May
Big bluefish were sometimes pounded from the surf along Delaware Bay in town, said Nick from Hands Too Bait & Tackle. No particular place held them consistently, but the blues chased bunker schools in the area. Anglers concentrated on fishing along jetties. An angler tackled a 36-inch blue from the area. Swimming lures or chunks of bunker could be fished for the blues. A couple of boats were known to get into the blues on the bay. When birds worked the water, and baitfish schooled, the blues could be on them and easy to find. Not a lot of boaters fished yet this season. Local marinas just opened two weeks ago. Nothing was heard about boaters trying for striped bass on the bay yet. Tons of small stripers, not many keepers, swam the bay. Surf casters lit into them on bloodworms under a float and soft-plastic lures. Big stripers still migrated Delaware River for spawning. They’ll probably drop back to Delaware Bay beginning in a week, and reach the ocean surf in two to three weeks, after spawning. Blackfishing was good on the ocean, including at Cape May Reef, and along jetties. Fresh bunker, fresh clams, bloodworms and green crabs were stocked.

Last Week's Report
Port Elizabeth

Striped bass were heard about a couple of times that were beached from shore at Fortescue, said Sharon from The Girls Place Bait & Tackle. Many of the fish were throwbacks, and some anglers said they got no bites there. One angler talked about scoring well on stripers on Delaware River while fishing from shore with friends on trips. Many of the fish were throwbacks but some were sizable. Be aware about regulations for fishing the river. Striper fishing is closed on much of the river this time of year for spawning. Anglers release the fish, and certain types of circle hooks are required to be fished. No black drum were heard to be boated on the bay yet, but they could be in less than two weeks. Drum fishing is usually best in May, and sometimes begins in late April. White perch fishing caught okay on brackish rivers, and perch tournaments were held lately. Crabbing was improving already, probably because of the mild winter. One crabber talked about trapping a couple of hundred including 30 or 40 keepers. The shop was fairly busy with customers during the weekend. Bloodworms were popular sellers for bait, and the worms have been scarce, because weather’s been cold to the north, where the worms are from. The worm population didn’t seem low, but low temperatures kept the worms buried in mud, difficult for harvesters. Fresh bunker were available pretty much daily, when the shop wanted the bait. Bunker became scarce a moment during the weekend, because weather blew a gale Saturday, keeping bunker boats from sailing. Fresh, shucked clams but no clams in the shell were stocked during the weekend. Clams have been scarce in recent years, apparently because of over-harvesting. 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

A couple of boaters fished during the weekend, said Bruce from Money Island Marina. But most customers were launching boats into slips for the first time this year, getting ready to fish. One of the boaters who fished sailed toward the Salem power plant for stripers, meeting rough seas from stiff wind, catching nothing. Weather was often windy and sometimes cold and damp in past days. The shop stocks bait like fresh bunker when demand begins. Currently frozen bunker was on hand, and the bunker supplier pulled the boat from the water for maintenance, but now splashed the vessel back in. 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, can offer angling 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. Ask the marina when the boat will be available for the fishing season. A couple of aluminum boats like that will be available this year, Bruce noted.


The rental boats will become available for crabbing on the weekend of May 20 at Beaver Dam Boat Rentals, Paul said. They’ll be available on weekends until becoming available daily in late June, the usual schedule. This might be a banner year for crabbing, because mild winters usually cause that. Cold winters can kill many crabs. Lots of crabs already skittered around the dock, and many were undersized. But crabs grow quickly, and many should be keepers by the time the rental boats become available. Rental kayaks are also available in-season. Customers crab, fish and kayak on scenic Oranokin Creek, running past the shop. The store carries everything needed for crabbing, from bait, traps and nets to suntan lotion, drinks and snacks. It also hosts events like birthday parties and family reunions, and also events that teach about the environment for groups like scouts. Visit Beaver Dam’s website.

Cape May

The Heavy Hitter was splashed Friday at the marina in Cape May for the fishing season, Capt. George said. Black drum charters will fish the bay in May. The boat had been in dry dock along Maurice River for seasonal maintenance. On the trip to Cape May that day, the river was 60 degrees, and Cape May Canal was 54, where the canal meets the bay.

Trips for striped bass will begin May 1 with Fishin’ Fever Sportfishing, chunking bunker on the bay, Capt. Tom said. Those are big, mature stripers headed for the ocean, after spawning in Delaware River. Trips for black drum on the bay will start May 10. That angling’s usually good off the bat when the trips begin.