Bass, perch and crabs catching on

Robbie Payton, of Milton, shows off his first large mouth bass. He released his catch after the photo. (Submitted photo)

Robbie Payton, of Milton, shows off his first large mouth bass. He released his catch after the photo. (Submitted photo)

Fishing is heating up for many anglers all over Delmarva — from striped bass schooling up in the tidal creeks and tributaries of the Chesapeake Bay to white perch all over the state of Delaware.

Herring are moving into spillway areas trying to move upstream. Bass are getting more active in ponds, and yellow perch are still a hot catch.
Minnows and worms have been the best baits for the freshwater fish.

Striped bass are hitting bloodworms and small swim shads.

The best news a few days ago was osprey showing up in Lewes which is a about a week early from their usual arrival around St Patrick’s Day.

First bass

Frank Payton took his grandson Robbie fishing over the weekend and he caught his first ever large mouth bass. He was excited to say the least.

Frank Payton Sr. even got Dan from Dan’s Tackle box make up a certificate for his grandson to frame and hang on his wall.

Outdoors column logo by . “When a kid catches his first fish, you do what you can to keep that feeling going, especially when it is your grandson,” he said.

I was there when Robbie released the large mouth bass and his final words were, “Catch ya later.” Priceless.

Fishing reports

Bunker are all over the inland bays and the upper Delaware Bay in the creeks and rivers.

Netters are starting to catch an abundance of them for crabbing and fishing bait.

The migratory striped are usually not too far behind when the bunker move into our waterways but we will have to wait and see when they arrive.

The Chesapeake has seen some huge catches of large spawning bass, which are starting to move into the spawning grounds already.

Pickerel action has been hot in all of the ponds on lures and the fly fishing community is seeing some nice action. Those fish will hit anything with action or shiny. Great fun once you hook into one just not good table fare.

The surf has been seeing skates and spiny dogfish caught on bunker chunks. The dogfish are a fun tug on a line but many anglers get tired of catching them. They are good to eat and in England are used to make fish and chips. The surf will heat up as soon as the water temperatures bump up a few more degrees. Mother nature seems to be cranking up a little earlier this year in the bays, but the ocean is still a tad chilly.

Blue crab bliss

Connor Fisher, of Millsboro, caught these crabs on Monday. (Submitted photo)

Connor Fisher, of Millsboro, caught these crabs on Monday. (Submitted photo)

The exciting news for the one catch everyone wants to see start up this time of year.

The blue claw crabs are emerging from the mud and starting to show up in crab pots. Bunker are moving in the back bays too, and that is the best baits for crabs. Of course chicken works well, but not as good as a ripe old dead oily fish. The creel limit on blue crabs is one bushel per person. Hard shell crabs must be a minimum of 5 inches. Soft shell crab minimum is 3.5 inches, and peeler crabs are 3 inches.

Guidelines from DNREC: “Recreational crabbers may not use, place, set or tend more than two pots. The person claiming to own the pots must be the one to set and tend them. These pots must be marked with all white buoys with the owner’s full name and permanent mailing address inscribed either on the buoy or on a waterproof tag attached to the buoy. All crab pots must be tended at least once every 72 hours. A turtle by-catch reduction device is required to be attached in each funnel entrance of a recreational crab pot to reduce the possibility of diamondback terrapins entering and drowning. A by-catch reduction device is a rigid rectangular frame of plastic or metal that measures 1.75 inches x 4.75 inches and is available at local tackle shops, or can be hand-made from heavy (>11 gauge) wire or other suitable material.”

The crabs that are being caught now are just under the size limit, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some keepers to be had. Don’t forget to return sponge crabs to the water, it is illegal to keep them. The eggs or sponge is orange and very easy to spot. Mature females or sooks with a U shaped apron may be kept at any size. These are fully mature crabs.

A friend of mine once said, “You get me a soft crab, I will make you a sandwich with legs.”

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

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