Noticing signs that spring’s finally on the way

Outdoors column logo by . Compared to last year the outdoors is like night and day. There isn’t any ice on the waterways and the weather this week has felt like spring.

Last night a staccato of peepers was coming from the tax ditch near my house. The spring peepers have been coming out off and on recently, but last night was a full-on concert. Always a good sign that spring is almost here.

Ryan Henry and the boys were fishing Broad Creek in Laurel the past week.

“Doubled up on two big girls today, top one being a citation weighing in at 1.3 pounds. Caught it in Broad Creek in Laurel and caught it off of minnows on a top and bottom rig on outgoing tide,” he reports.

“It’s honestly been slow the past two days. (We) got lucky with them. We caught maybe four white perch the past four days, just been sticking it out.

“We have been catching a short striper every once in a while off of bloodworms.”

The striped bass action for shorts in several areas have been great, but also getting in the way of people trying to catch perch. That is how it always goes; you have to get through one fish to get to another.

Once the perch turn off, everyone will want the stripers to bite.

To the north of us in New Jersey in the back bays and to the south and west of us in the Chesapeake the striped bass are starting to hit more.

Water temperatures are on the rise. These are resident fish not migratory bass. The “run” is still a little ways off.

The inland bays have been peaking to 50 degrees on the warmer days. The Delaware Bay has been averaging 41 in the lower bay and 45 degrees in the upper bay. As the temperatures rise the fish will become more active. Striped bass will school up and the action will be fun and fast.

The Murderkill and Mispillion rivers and all other tidal rivers have been hitting 50 degrees in the afternoons. The cold snap earlier this week will change those temperatures but they will be back up after the weekend.

Tournament time

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Frank Payton Sr. shows off the first entry in the All Species Fishing Tournament, a pan sized bluegill. The card this week is the ace of clubs. (Submitted photo/Rich King)

Frank Payton Sr., of Milton, entered the first catch in the annual All Species Fishing Tournament. He caught a monster bluegill in Milton at the boat basin.

I put together a tournament last year based on the fish ID page on Delaware Surf Fishing. The rules are simple, enter the tournament online, catch one of every fish on the list. You hold the weekly card up with the fish in the picture, that also has to be time and date stamped. First person to fill the list wins.

The tournament began Tuesday and runs until Nov. 31. You can enter at any time.

Since the fish on the list are seasonal you have plenty of time to try to fill the list. Last year was a lot of fun and we only had 41 people enter. First prize is $750.

You can see all the rules at www.delaware-surf-fishing.com; click on All Species Tournament information. You get a T-shirt and a DSF deck of playing cards with your entry. Fee is $50.

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Ryan Henry with a double down of yellow perch (neds) from Broad Creek in Laurel. One was a citation at 1.3 pounds. (Submitted photo/Rich King)

Pickerel and geese

Pickerel action has been off the hook and some of the Saltwater Fly Anglers of Delaware Club members were crushing pickerel on the fly.

Shawn Rakes and some of the club guys hit the Choptank River and got into some nice sized pickerel.

These are fun fish on ultralight gear but even more fun on a fly rod. When they crush that fly and start to run, you have a fight on your hands.

Bass and crappie action is still good with crappie being the hottest hook up. The bass are still slow moving but they are feeding.

If you aren’t hunting for snow geese, you are pretty much waiting for deer season, which means hunters are getting their fishing gear ready.

Unless you are waiting for turkey season: thunder chicken season starts in April.

In the meantime fishing is getting better and the temperatures are on the rise. We will see a couple of cold snaps, but for the most part spring is just about here and much earlier than last year.

Rich King’s column appears Thursdays in the Delaware State News.

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