Be patient: It’s harder to hook fish in bad water

Keith Stevenson with his winning flounder. Submitted photo

The weather as of late has not been too conducive to fishing, well catching, you can still fish bad weather. If this were the fall into winter it would be perfect for striped bass fishing but it is not that time of year.

Granted fish still feed in the bad water, but it is more difficult to hook them up. If you put in the time and have patience you can catch. The waters are all stirred up from the last storm and the massive flooding up north and inland has made the waters very dirty.

Fishing the surf and offshore has been a no-go the past several days from the storms and storm surge. The surf looks like chocolate milk with heavy wave action. Once it calms down it will be better fishing.

The best fishing has been “inside” such as the inland bays, Delaware Bay beaches, and the creeks or rivers. Granted some are swollen with rain runoff, but the fish are still feeding. Places like Masseys Landing and the Cape Henlopen fishing pier have seen some decent action for croaker, spot, sand perch, weakfish, short striped bass, and flounder.

Dave Beebe reported a few days ago that trigger are being seen on the pylons at the end of the pier. Since the extended end of the pier was removed I would get a kayak to get out to the structure to fish for triggers.

Baits that are working best have been minnows and gulp for flounder. Fishbites, bloodworms, and Bona Fide baits are working very well for all the smaller fish on top and bottom rigs. With the constant rain we keep having, bait is going to be your best bet so the fish can smell the food.

Flounder tourney survived the weather

Despite the gnarly weekend weather the Paradise Bay Flounder Tournament was a go and people went. I saw several friends at the scales on Saturday and asked how it was out there.

“We fished till about 11 a.m., then went home, got lunch, and came here to weigh in our fish. It was right snotty out there.”

A few anglers stayed out the whole day, but only the bigger boats. If you were in a small boat it was just too rough. Despite the bad weather there were fish caught and brought to the scales.

Even if anglers didn’t place on the board they would weigh in fish for the calcutta. Knowing you wouldn’t place didn’t stop anyone from weighing in a flounder on Saturday. Sunday that fish could up their calcutta total at the next weigh-in. In any multi-day tournament with a weight calcutta you always enter your largest fish despite it not making the board.

Sunday the weather was much better and the water a lot calmer than Saturday. There were a lot more boats on the inland bays with anglers wearing green T-shirts. The scales opened at 4 p.m. and lines had to be in by 5. The scales would close at 6. The crowd was heavy on Sunday to watch the action at the scales. It is exciting to see people bring big fish to the scales.

One boat come in not long before the scales would close. The anglers on it were pulling fish out of a live well and when I looked over, people were shooting pictures with their phones. Because there was a lot of nice flounder on that boat. The smallest kid on the boat had the largest fish on board. He walked to the scales. This whole crew was giddy with excitement, they knew they had a fish that would make the board. At this point the heaviest fish was 4.0 pounds.

Keith Stevenson took his flounder up on stage and everyone knew it would make the board. The fish measured a full half-inch more than the lead fish. We just didn’t know how far up he would place. Now he had a serious grin going, and he was excited. His crew was really excited for him too.

When the fish hit the scales the crowd went nuts and Keith had an ear-to-ear grin he would not be able to wipe off his face for days. He topped out at 4.3 pounds and was now the leader looking at $10,000 for first place. There were other fish waiting to be weighed in, but they knew they would not top Keith’s fish.

I asked Keith how he felt after he won and he was at a loss for words.

“I am really excited.” That was about all he could muster at that point and he couldn’t get that grin off his face. Now he had to decide if he wanted to take the prize money or a boat instead. He was up on stage grinning like a kid in a candy store. He didn’t skip a beat when he was asked which he would choose. “I’ll take the boat.”

The boys in his crew were ecstatic for him.

“Keith loves fishing … it is all he likes to do and as much as he can.”

I am pretty sure at this point he will probably never stop fishing now, that is one heck of a prize for a 16-year-old kid. The boys loaded back up on the boat and headed home with a trophy, a new boat, and one seriously happy kid.

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

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