It seems as though theses last couple of weeks we have spent much more time tied up to the docks and working on boats than we have actually spent fishing. I was finally able to get out this past week fishing for the Tog five of the last seven days however my results were much less than favorable as far as I was concerned.
Wind, fog, cold ocean breezes, tough currents and too many throwback fish dominated my last several trips. Keeper sized Tog have become difficult to catch here in the mouth of the Delaware Bay other than around the lighthouses and the breakwaters and even then its best when the water has been clear. It seems as though we have had wind from one direction or the other keeping water clarity at more of a chocolate milk brown color than some of the clear clean water we had seen earlier this year. This coupled with the full moon tides this past weekend made for some tough fishing in my book. We did find a few nice fish and there were times the fishing wasn't half bad but the keeper ratio when we were able to find some biting fish was horrible. In a way I think I will be happy when the spring Tog season comes to an end, there has been just so much pressure put on these fish since last fall they seem to have really taken a beating and with the minimum size limit at 16 inches now other than an exceptional bite, finding keeper fish has become somewhat of a chore. Throw in the wind, some fog, strong currents and a very finicky biting fish, and at times it has been a stretch calling what we have been doing fun!
We did have our moments however, we were able to see several personal bests with the Tog, a few limits here and there and even a couple of bonus Stripers that happened to eat a crab at a very inopportune moment. We also saw a preliminary to what we might expect once the Sea Bass season finally opens. There was a couple wrecks that I tried within just a few miles of the beach that were covered up with some beautiful Bass that would approach two and three pounds. Of course much like the many three and four pound 15 1/2 inch throwback Tog we were seeing, they too had to be returned to the sea due to the current regulations. It has been very frustrating catching nice fish and having to throw them back due to the faulty "best available science."
Water temperatures have continued to rise; we are now seeing some 60 degree water and above in the Delaware Bay at times, and along the coast surface temperatures have been as high as 57 degrees. Baitfish have been on the move and there has been a nice migration of Stripers up and down the beach and in the Surf. There has also been a nice showing up in the Delaware Bay with Sea Trout that are actually being measured in pounds and not inches. These big Trout could perhaps be a glimmer of hope for our future if they continue to return to the Delaware Bay to spawn the way they once did. Along with the Stripers biting there have also been a good number of nice Flounder being caught by those targeting them. I look for a really good Flounder season this year and it is quite possible we will be seeing some good numbers of flatties rather early this year. Drumfish have also started to bite in some pretty decent numbers on both sides of the Delaware Bay and there has even been several landed in the surf along with the Stripers.
We have just a few more days of targeting the Tautog as of this writing, Friday May 11th will be the last day. Once the Tog season closes we will be targeting Drumfish, Flounder or possibly even Stripers with the Full-Day trips until the Sea Bass season opens. I will play it by ear with the weather and the fishing conditions as to what we may target on any given trip. If the Drumfish continue to bite in the daytime it is possible that they will be on the top of the menu and if drifting conditions are really good we will most certainly try for some Fluke.
I still can't give you a rock solid date on the opening day of the Sea Bass season. It has become a political nightmare trying to get an answer. NOAA has proposed an opening day of Saturday May 19th however for some reason this date may not be signed off on until May 18th if at all. There is strong speculation that we will be good to go on the 19th but there is also an element of doubt whether or not federal waters outside of three miles will be open for fishing. Also the state of Delaware says that this late of a signing won't give them enough time to change the opening date which they had already set for May 22nd. If any of this confuses you welcome to the club. I put in a call to the Governor's office but I am still waiting for a reply. Maybe if enough of us call it will get somebody's attention! As it stands now though I'm going to have plenty of bait ready for the 19th because after what I witnessed this past weekend the Sea Bass are here and they are hungry and willing to take a bait!
I will continue sailing daily with the All-Day trips departing the docks at 7:00 a.m. or shortly there after. We generally return around 4:00. We will also be running evening Drum trips at 6:00 p.m. when we get enough folks to make the trip. With the Drum we are fishing very close to home so we can still sail with a bare minimum crowd. As a friendly reminder it's been rather chilly out on the water so I suggest several layers of clothing -you can always take them off. Even though the weatherman will promise 70 or 80 degrees, I promise you it won't be that warm on the water especially if there is just the slightest of a breeze!
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 one of the upcoming special trips please give us a call at (302) 645-TUNA.
Until Next Week Happy Fishing!
Capt. Rick Yakimowicz
Thelma Dale IV