Deer are on the move and hunters like the cold weather

Austin Ensor and friends with the opah caught out of Ocean City, Maryland. (Submitted photo/Austin Ensor)

Shotgun season started for deer and so far the results for many hunters has been quality meat in the freezer.

The deer are really on the move with this cold snap we are having. Just like fishing, some days are colder than others. When I left Florida it was 80 degrees, when I arrived back in Delaware it was 30. Brrrrrr is an understatement.

Hunters are enjoying this weather and it is November after all. Deer are on the move and no mosquitoes or bugs to deal with. Death to all the chiggers in the woods, I hate those things. We will have another big cool-down around Thanksgiving weekend.

Fishing report

Sea bass action has been great offshore for the charters and few head boats still fishing. Flounder and blues are also being caught offshore and occasionally sheepshead and trigger. I wouldn’t expect those last two to be here much longer as the water cools down.

Striped bass caught in the surf by Chris Ogle. (Submitted photo)

Striped bass action is picking up off the Jersey coast and beaches, we are hopig to see that action here at some point. Our resident short bass action has been great around the Delaware bay, inland bays, Indian River Inlet and the tidal creeks and rivers. The surf is seeing the occasional short bass. There have been a few keepers under thirty inches here and there. Bunker is the bait of choice since that is what the fish are mainly eating. Swim shads and the traditional white and red bucktail are working.

The surf has mostly been the small snapper blue fish. A lot of dogfish are being caught and of course clear nosed skate. I wouldn’t expect to see any of the large yellow eyed devils (bluefish) like we see in the spring near shore this fall, that action usually stays offshore this time of year.

Tautog has been great on wrecks, reefs and the walls in the harbor of safe refuge. With triggers, bluefish and sheepshead as a by catch. More throw backs than keepers the closer you are to shore, but the fishing is a lot of fun.

Big news

The big news this week everyone is buzzing about is the Opah caught by Captain Austin Ensor and his crew aboard the Primary Search, last weekend. They were offshore at the Poor Man’s Canyon and got a swordfish when the opah hit one of their lines.

Shirts in support of menhaden stocks. (Submitted photo)

This is the first non-commercial boat to ever catch an opah out of Ocean City, Maryland on rod and reel. These are also the only warm blooded fish known to man, which gives them an advantage as a deep water predator. Usually these are only caught it the Pacific Ocean and specifically near Hawaii.

The other big news is the ASMFC set the total allowable catch (TAC) for Menhaden (bunker) the other day at 216,000 metric tons, almost a 10 percent increase. Unfortunately public opinion was ignored which was overwhelmingly in favor of Option E for Amendment 3 to the Interstate Fishery Management Plan (FMP) for Atlantic Menhaden. Option B instead was passed and this will not allow for a BERP, or biological and environmental reference points.

The idea behind these BERPS was to help preserve the areas where these fish thrive. The idea of this all came about after limits were set to increase the striped bass populations. If you increase a predator population you need something for them to eat. Bunker is one of their main food sources. Hopefully in 2019 this is taken into consideration, and we do better for menhaden then.

I am disappointed by the decision of the ASMFC and Delaware’s role in that decision. I was told different at many meetings with state leaders as to how we would vote; apparently we decided to vote opposite what I was told at these meetings and what the public wanted to happen.

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

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