Early spring offers keepers and peepers

DNREC stocks Newtons Pond with trout. (Submitted photo)

February spring has been a blast in the outdoors. The fish are getting excited and feeding, flowers are even popping up.

If we didn’t know it was the beginning of March, you would swear that spring has already started.

That will change with the weather this weekend due to heavy winds and colder temperatures, but next week we will be right back to the 50s. If the temperatures keep it up, we should have some great early spring fishing, which is already happening.

Nesting

For those that visited the beaches this weekend, they were able to enjoy the point in Cape Henlopen State Park one last time before it closes for the season. This happens every year form March 1 to September 1. Nesting shore birds that are protected are the main reason the area is closed. The state has to comply with federal regulations for piping plovers.

For us locals we don’t mind too much, it is a section of beach we get to ourselves in the off season.

Lots of keepers

Horseback riders take advantage of the last days of the Cape Henlopen point being open in the spring February weather. (Submitted photo/Tina McIntosh)

The fishing has been off the hook for the time of year.

White perch are being caught more readily in all our tidal waterways. Yellows are still slow in Delaware bu on fire in the Chesapeake. Lots of white perch being thrown back, but there are plenty of keepers and citations filling the coolers.

Short striped bass have been fun to catch along with the perch.

Everyone is using bloodworms or grass shrimp. There are even keeper bass along some of the upper Delaware Bay beaches. Augustine wildlife area,  according to Master Baiters Bait and Tackle, has been seeing keeper striped bass up to 30 inches mixed in with a lot of short bass.

Don’t get excited, you aren’t missing anything, this is happening all over Delmarva. Broadkill River, Port Penn area, Woodland Beach toname a few others. I’m killin it around the Indian River as far up as Cupola Park in Millsbooro.

Spring run

These are resident fish, the “official” spring run has not started, so don’t freak out. The striped bass runs happen in waves.

Every fall and spring season before the run happens the resident fish get active and start feeding heavily and move around the waterways more, that is happening right now. That is the first wave.

Last-minute beach combing at the point produced some treasures for Sue Sokira .. a sea horse. (Submitted photo)

The water temperatures trigger this begining of the spring run, and it has been pulled. Then the run begins and the migratory fish that are ready to spawn move up the waterways to spawn in fresh water areas, the resident fish that are ready join them. That is the second wave.

Then the resident fish that are ready to join the Atlantic migration move downstream into the bays and finally the ocean, with the migratory fish, and run rabbit run! Right now bloodworms are the ticket for these fish, you can also use swim shads, rattle traps, and small bucktails for catching.

Trout season

Another sure sign of spring on the way is the trout ponds are stocked that open up Saturday.

Tidbury Pond near Dover in Kent County and Newton Pond near Greenwood in Sussex County will open for trout fishing beginning at 7 a.m.

“As in past years, we plan to stock each of these ponds with more than 300 pounds of 12- to 13-inch rainbow trout before opening day, with a second stocking later in the month,” said Fisheries Administrator John Clark. “We will also include some trophy-sized trout weighing 2 pounds or more as an added attraction for trout anglers.”

Pond hopping has been excellent for bass, pickerel,catfish, and bluegill. Even some snakeheads have been caught, which is unusual this time of year, but then again so is the weather.

The other night it was 40 degrees and the peeper frogs were chirping heavy at the house. Spring may as well be here because mother nature is awake and on the roll. See you in the sandbox!

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

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