Along with some of the best weather that you could possibly ask for at this time of the year we started out our 2010 fishing season with calm seas and some decent fish catching action. March certainly came in with a lion's roar but as the first day of Spring rolled in over the weekend, the weather was more like the purr of a baby kitten with an Ocean resembling more like a small farm pond with it's mirror like slick flat seas.
We were geared and ready to start this past Friday and with an ensemble of fisherman that more closely resembled a reunion of old friends than a party boat crowd, off we went. With flat seas and a great forecast I headed out for our first trip of the year with hopes of finding a few fish. A few is about all we found. Fishing in depths from as shallow as 80 feet to as deep as 120 I tried several different wrecks and locations and the results were less than spectacular. We did see a smattering of fish on nearly every stop but the size was not impressive and there seemed to be no great numbers of fish that were willing to take a bait. We finally did find a few biting fish late in the day with a trickle of ebb tide but with time running out and being 30 miles from home we had to call it a day. All tolled I think we had nine keeper Tog, a bunch of short Tog and a small handful of Cod for our efforts.
Saturday rolled in with a similar forecast and another nice group of willing participants. With the cold water I had found further offshore on Friday I decided to try a little closer to the beach and it ultimately turned into a good move. While we had a slow start in the morning by mid-day the fish began to bite and we ended up with a decent catch of Tog that averaged from three to nearly seven pounds and we also had a nice smattering of keeper Codfish for a bonus by catch. Tog fishing has officially started the bite was on. By the end of the day we had landed well over 100 Tautog and kept better than half of them we also had several decent Cod. Crabs and clams were the bait of choice with some anglers having a hard time deciding which bait was best. Some of the bigger Tog were landed on the Crabs but they were certainly biting the fresh clams a little more aggressive and all of the Cod were caught on the fresh clams. A few anglers tried Shrimp but that didn't seem to be the bait of choice as of yet.
Sunday's trip was very similar. The flat seas did begin to give way to a slight southerly chop but we started catching fish right out of the gate on Sunday morning. With easy anchoring and some skilled anglers on deck the fish were indeed coming up however most of the fish caught were falling shy of the required minimum size of 14 inches. The keepers did however start to add up for some and by days end we once again had a respectable catch with Tog and another good handful of keeper sized Codfish. Had the fish not shut down towards the end of the day it could have potentially been the best trip of the weekend.
Water temperatures seemed to be the key to finding the bite this past weekend. With surface temperatures hanging right around 45 to 46 degrees the bottom temperature was much cooler. When you brought up your rig your sinker felt like it had been sitting in a refrigerator. I noticed on Friday that the further off the beach I got, the cooler the surface water was until I reached the twenty fathom line where it began to creep up again. Bottom temperatures were also a couple degrees cooler in this mid range which is why I suspect the fishing was a little better inshore. As time progresses these temperatures will begin to stabilize and we will undoubtedly see even better fishing at the various depths. As far as the Mackerel I have no good news. In my travels this weekend we saw quite a few Herring but no sightings of the Mac's the water temperature is right where it belongs to see them too. It is still possible that some may show but I'm not holding my breath.
With a lot of the regulations still up in the air it is hard to say how this Spring season will play out. All eyes are on the Sea Bass season right now and we will indeed be having one. We just might not be too happy with the dates we are given. Look for Sea Bass season to open sometime in May and I am certain that we will see some very good fishing on this sought after fish but as it stands now (and this is subject to change) it will likely be short and sweet. There is a meeting in Dover tomorrow night to help finalize the 2010 Flounder season with several options on the table. None of these options are particularly to my liking either. Our best case scenario is either option #4 with an open season year round being able to keep 4 flounder at 19 inches or option #1 with a keeper size at 18 1/2 inches and a creel limit also of 4. With this option there would be a closed season from October 14th till the end of the year. Public opinion can be expressed in person at this meeting or by letter or email to the fisheries section at DNREC. The email for comments is Craig.Shirey@state.de.us I am personally in favor of option #1 with an 18 1/2 inch fish and a creel limit of 4. Even though this option includes a closure from mid October till the end of the year the Flounder are mainly a by catch this time of year and I would give up those few weeks to be able to land a little smaller fish while they are around in the Summer months.
Despite the bumpy road we are on with all the Government fishing regulations being forced upon us the outlook is good to have a great year at catching fish. I look to continue wreck fishing for the Tog for several more weeks and then we will start fishing for Sea Bass. It is possible there may be a short time frame in between during which we will target Stripers and Black Drum with the regular all day trips this will depend on just when the Sea Bass season opens. Stay tuned I will keep you informed with what is going on.
If you would like any more information about trips sailing out of the Wharf or you are interested in booking a private charter please give us a call at (302) 645-TUNA. Also be sure to check out the website for the new tackle shop here at the Wharf. The Old Hookers are gone now and the revitalized Tiderunners Bait and Tackle Shop has taken over. Their website is tiderunnerstackle.com and is worth checking out and book marking they will be running some very good specials. We are looking foreword to seeing and fishing with you here at Fisherman's Wharf this year.
Until Next Week Happy Fishing!
Capt. Rick Yakimowicz
Thelma Dale IV