There's a lot I can say about the 2013 spring Sea Bass season opener and the subsequent trips following that big day, however much of what's really on my mind might not exactly be suitable for print.
May 19th was the big day and there was a lot of hope, anticipation, and lots of excitement surrounding this opening day for several different reasons. To say I was a little disappointed with our end results would certainly be an understatement. Right out of the gate we knew the cards were stacked against us as the southeast and the east winds were blowing in excess of 20 knots throughout the prior night and into the morning. Just getting out of the mouth of the Delaware Bay was nothing short of a victory at sea on Sunday morning. This would only be the beginning.
Both captain H.D. and myself took off on pretty much a parallel course; he was headed a lot further offshore with the extended trip and I would be fishing the structures within 20 miles off of the beach. It was painfully obvious within a mile from the Lighthouse that it was going to be a long ride out into the swells and the confused seas on top of them. It wasn't that the waves were two big to navigate across but the swells were actually heaped up in the mouth of the Delaware Bay due to the wind directly against the current making for a sloppy ride. Once we got away from the mouth of the Bay and the hard running current the swells actually spaced apart and we were able to get back up on a normal cruise speed. When we arrived at the fishing grounds that's when the real disappointment set in. We were kind of thinking that with the amount of Bass that were around over the winter months that it just might be easy catching these fish inshore, however that did not seem to be the case. Now after day four it still does not seem to be.
We caught fish, we actually caught a lot of fish but it just wasn't the lock n load Sea Bass fishing that you would expect for this time of the year. There were no fewer than a dozen boats out scouring nearly 40 miles of ocean in our vicinity and covering depths from 60 to 150 feet of water on the various wrecks and artificial reefs. Unfortunately it seemed the best any of us could do would be just pick fishing. I personally fished over a half a dozen different wrecks and a few different parts of the reef that first day and we did catch fish on every stop. Some folks actually ended up with a nice mess of fish for their effort, but I can remember sitting on just one small wreck at this time of the year with a boat full of fisherman and never having to move just constantly beaming up the fish. What's going on you say? If I knew the answer to that question it is likely that instead of composing this report when I'd rather be sleeping I would be vacationing on an island somewhere with a fishing rod in my hand!
The fishing that we saw on that opening day while somewhat disappointing to those expecting limits of nice fat Sea Bass was actually not horrific. We have certainly seen tougher fishing and it gets much worse than what we have seen so far. Top hooks each trip that I have made have been anywhere from the low to mid teens with the Bass and yesterday while scouring for something better we managed to find a nice batch of Red Hake (ling) that helped fill the boxes immensely. The part that has been hard to swallow is the fact that some folks are walking away with just barely supper. You can have one lucky stick land a dozen or so nice fish on a stop and the fellow standing beside catch next to nothing. I have also stopped over certain wrecks that would normally produce hundreds of fish this time of year and we caught nothing but Tautog or Bergalls. For me that is the most frustrating part.
The beat goes on, this start that we have had is similar to the start that we have been seeing ever since we had opening days. There is no doubt that if we had been allowed to fish for the Bass a few weeks ago we would have had some really good trips. The weather hasn't exactly been doing us any favors either, we continue to have a big ground swell with all the southerly winds and the Bass generally bite better without the swells. Surface temperatures are up we have seen nearly 60 degrees at times on top however divers report bottom temperatures at only 44 degrees which is still a little cool in my book. As far as the outlook for our Sea Bass season this spring? The jury is still out. There is no doubt in the next couple weeks that we will have some decent fishing however it looks like we are going to also have some pain if some more fish don't move into our area as the water gets warmer.
I plan to continue targeting the Sea Bass anchoring over wrecks rocks and artificial reefs as long as we continue to have success I just don't know how long that will be. After that we will likely start doing some drift fishing with a variety of both Sea Bass and the Flounder. All indications so far are pointing to a good season with the Fluke and everyone is looking foreword to being able to land the 17 inch fish this year for a nice change. Seventeen inches is the smallest size limit that we have seen in Delaware for a very long time, we actually get to keep a smaller sized fish than our neighbors in New Jersey for the first time I can remember. The New regulations will take effect on June 11th and by that time I am fairly certain that they will be at least one of our target species.
The Memorial Day weekend will kick off a few more scheduled trips this weekend, along with the daily All-Day trip we will start running more Half-Day trips as well as the sight seeing and Dolphin Cruises. We will also be Drum fishing both Friday and Saturday evening. Half-Day trips will likely target Kingfish, Trout and Croakers and my All-Day trips will be targeting the Sea Bass and the Ling. If you would like any more information about trips sailing out of the Wharf or you would like to book a private charter or reserve space on a special trip please give us a call at (302) 645-TUNA. Also like us on facebook for daily updates as well as some more pictures taken during our trips.
Until Next Week Happy Fishing!
Capt. Rick Yakimowicz
Thelma Dale IV