Catching striped bass on a snow-covered beach

Ben Smith and the crew roughing it in the cold. (Submitted photos)

Today is a good day to write because it is 27 degrees out with a wind chill factor of no-way-am-I-going-outside.

Even bad weather can be great fishing if you can take the cold. Some of my more dedicated, certifiable friends did just that during the first snowstorm of the year.

Ryan Halverson’s short striped bass caught and released from the surf in the blizzard of 2017.

Ben Smith and his crew did their annual December trip to the beach. A few years ago on this trip is when Ben set the new Delaware State Record for striped bass.

“We come here every year to fish this week, no matter the conditions we will fish,” Smith said.

This year the boys were treated to at least four inches of snow on the beach and close to nine inches of snow where they were staying in Oak Orchard. We met them at the beach for a little while to surf fish.

The vehicles lined up on the snow covered beach and rods in the sand spikes.

Between the propane heater and the grill they were keeping warm, and even managed a short striped bass as well as skates and dogfish. You have to put in the time if you want to catch fish, despite the weather.

Sussex sledding

I was happy to see we had a large amount of snow for our first snowfall of the year. My house was in the deepest swath on the maps. It was perfect. We left the beach, cranked up the four wheelers and hit the trails.

When more folks showed up, out came the car hood for some good old Sussex county sledding. If you haven’t been car hooding, you don’t know what you are missing.

Talon riding the car hood I am pulling around the field.

My take on snow is this, if we are going to get snow, give me enough to play. Of course it is days later and snow is still on the ground here, but not enough to go car hooding.

Sea bass and more

When the boats can get out they are doing well on sea bass and tautog. Everyone wants striped bass, and the boats are still doing the best off Jersey, but you can find some schools near Delaware inside the EEZ (the Exclusive Economic Zone.).

Trolling has been the best bet, near the Cape May rips and the shoals. In front of the Indian River Inlet and the Bethany beach area are starting to produce random catches.

The Chesapeake Bay is loaded with large migratory bass. Up and down the bay, anglers are having great luck. We know they are from out of town since they are covered in sea lice, a sure sign of ocean dwelling fish. You just have to put in some time to find schools of fish and then it is game on.

Keep inside the EEZ, the Coast Guard is watching and pulling boats over to check.

Pond fishing is producing decent bass and of course pickerel catches. The perch will turn on even more and become the staple catch for the winter soon enough.

Short striped bass action has been good around the inland bays, Delaware bay, the beaches, tidal creeks and rivers. The outgoing tide at night has been the best at the Indian River Inlet.

Fly anglers

Next month the Saltwater Fly anglers of Delaware will meet on Saturdays at Lewes Harbor Marina to hold their Saturday fly tieing meetings, starting at 9 a.m. Anyone is welcome to come and learn how to tie flies, trade lies, and learn about fly fishing.

This is one of the best fishing clubs in Delaware. If you want to learn about fly fishing in fresh or saltwater, these are the folks to ask.

Bird watching

Snowy owls are still being sighted along our coastal communities from Fowlers beach to Cape Henlopen State Park.

Please be respectful of the areas and the wildlife. Snow geese are here in full force darkening the skies when they take to flight.

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

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