We officially kicked off our 2011 fishing season this past weekend with a ten hour wreck trip. The weather was pretty much in our favor and the anticipation from cabin fever sufferers such as myself and about twenty others was high as we geared up and prepared for a nice day on the water and high hopes of a fresh fish dinner.
As we departed the dock the surface water temperature in the canal and across the Delaware Bay was right around 41 degrees, cold but not nearly as cold as the 37 degree water that Capt. H.D. had reported just a couple of long weeks ago on one of his offshore bird watching adventures. Hopefully this warming trend will continue with the longer days and warmer spring weather that is just around the corner. For the most part I would have to call these temperatures fairly normal for this time of the year.
The plan was simple we were headed offshore in hopes of finding some biting fish such as Cod, Tog, or maybe even some Ling- all of which we could normally see at this time of the year. The weather wouldn't seem to be a factor given the forecast. After nearly a two hour ride within the first couple of minutes of fishing it was what we captains call a successful trip! Not only was there a poolfish but there was a contest. Cod were coming up intermittently around the rail and they were all keepers. No big numbers of fish but hey we caught some and they were nice sized fish; we had hope! It didn't take long before it was apparent that we more than likely had caught the hungry ones that were living around this wreck so Capt. H. moved on.
Our second stop was similar with a smattering of decent Codfish coming up within minutes of dropping the lines to the bottom and again in just a short period it was seemingly over. The water was cold and what I like to call pick fishing didn't seem to be available on these first two wrecks. Not many bites, no Tog, no Cunners, and oddly no Spiny Dogfish. It was once again time to move on. After another short run we dropped back on what would ultimately be our best stop of the day. This time when the lines hit the bottom there were multiple hook ups all around the boat and in the couple minutes it took for folks to wind there fish up from the depths, cries for the net was all you could hear! Codfish were coming up and it was what I would have to call a little better than a pick!
I was standing at the rail with a rod and believe me when I tell you, you wanted your line to be on the bottom there were fish biting.
This type fishing continued for quite a while on this stop and some anglers would land as many as five or six nice Cod that would range anywhere from about five to twelve pounds. It was really nice to see some of these beauties coming up. They must have been pretty thick because even I managed to land three nice keepers providing some excellent food for the table! All good things must come to an end once again in about an hour the bite seemed to shut down. It is likely that we had once more caught up the hungry ones but then again for a while they really seemed to be biting and perhaps they had just shut off. We moved on.
We would fish three or four more wrecks by the end of the day but never saw the action that we had seen early on. There were a few more fish landed but they were few and far between perhaps they really had shut down with the incoming current? Like I stated earlier pick fishing just didn't seem to be available we didn't see any Tog at all, and bites were nearly nonexistent. Surface temperatures hovered right around 41 to 42 degrees most of the day and I would have to say judging by the feel of the sinker and the fish we caught that the bottom was even a little colder. The absence of the Spiny Sharks would also be a confirmation of cold bottom temps.
By the end of the day I would have to call it a decent trip; while there were a few anglers that would be stopping at a seafood market or having a burger for dinner most anglers would be having a fresh Codfish supper and in my book it is hands down the finest eating fish that we can catch around here. This was the most Cod that I have seen on a party boat fishing out of Delaware in one day fishing with hook and line since the mid seventies and I would have to call it a good sign for the future. Maybe there is hope for this fishery once again in our region!
We will have more of these trips going in the next few weeks and hopefully we will see more of this type of action. As the water warms up we should also start catching Tautog. As it stands now we will have another Ten Hour trip this coming Saturday 3/12 and the weekend after that is when I plan on resuming our regular All-Day trips sailing four days a week on Friday's through Monday's starting March 18th. Regular All-Day trips will be wreck trips anchoring over shipwrecks and reefs targeting primarily Tautog and likely a few Codfish we depart at 7:00 am. and return around 4:00. Some of you will remember that last year it was common to see a few Cod mixed in with the Tog on just about every all day trip early on and hopefully this year will be the same. Capt. H.D. is also planning a few special 18 hour trips for Tilefish starting Sat. 3/19.
If you would like any more information about trips sailing out of the Wharf or you would like to reserve space on a special trip or book a charter for the upcoming Spring Rockfish run please give us a call at (302) 645-TUNA.
Until Next Week Happy Fishing!
Capt. Rick Yakimowicz
Thelma Dale !V