Finally on our way to spring?

18dsn outdoors surf photo by .

Bethany Beach’s Colin Herlihy enjoys some sunset surfing in Delaware. (Submitted photo/Matt Adams)

Old man winter made a serious appearance and pushed us into some very low temperatures recently.

The inland bays froze over in a matter of twenty four hours. We had a spray advisory that was coating work boats on the Delaware Bay. Ponds and small streams were also frozen over. Then we had a dusting of snow turn into several inches for Sussex County and less for the northern sections of the state.

Outdoors column logo FINAL by . After all that, the temperatures pushed up into the 50s and everything melted. Nothing like experiencing all four seasons in a 48-hour period.

Certainly a weird winter this year. Last year at this time the Delaware Bay was a flotilla of ice that became a serious issue for the Ferry and other ships. Pancake icebergs the size of cars were washing up onto the beaches.

That made for some interesting times outdoors and lasted into March.

Icing up

Fishing has still been decent for crappie and yellow perch. The only problem has been dealing with the crazy temperatures.

Aside from freezing your tail off in the cold. When it is below freezing ice will collect in the rod guides and the line will freeze on the spool.

It’s always a good idea to take extra rods with you fishing the freezing temperatures. You can’t just thaw them out and keep fishing in the extreme cold temperatures. We take three to four rods with us and once they are all frozen up, it is time to go home and warm up not just the gear but ourselves.

Metal spools and ceramic guides will freeze up fast especially in the temperatures we had recently. This is also an issue for fly fishermen and will increase the weight of the line making casting a little tougher.

Catching minnows has been tough when the waters are frozen over. Make sure you get the traps out before a big freeze.

Hopefully this is the last of the really cold weather and we will be well on our way into spring.

Surf’s up

The waves have been sick when the conditions are ripe and this year that has been more often than not.

East Coast surfers live for these conditions and this year has been exceptional.

The beaches are flattened out from the storms since October, and the sand bars are creating some killer waves.

Colin Herlihy a local surfing legend of Bethany Beach, said, “Waves have been consistent all season with “el niño” the temperatures have been above average too, east coast surfers have been lucky so far this winter.”

With the conditions of the beaches now, it looks like it will be well into fall before any major replenishment can be done up and down the coast.
This will be a bonus for surf anglers, the sand bars and troughs are the structure that we prefer to fish and this year it looks like we will have plenty.

But beach replenishment fills in this structure and ruins the fishing for the season.

Bird watching

One outdoor activity that never ends is bird watching.

We have a plethora of migratory birds in Delaware and the birders are seeing all kinds. The contrast of a bird against a snowy background makes for some great pictures. One of the favorite areas to see a variety of birds is along Route 9.

You have the advantage of the marsh and bay environments for a variety of sightings. A snowy owl has been observed at Dover Air Force base. It is in a restricted area of the airfield, but you may catch a glimpse from the museum parking lot.

Winter visitors

Another migratory visitor that is making more of an appearance are the Grey and Harbor seals that visit our shores every year. We usually have them here into April. When they leave depends on the water temperatures.

If you see a seal please do not approach it and keep at least one hundred and fifty feet away. You can contact the Marine Education, Research and Rehabilitation Institute (MERR) to report any sightings. Just text location and any details to 302 228 5029. They like to keep tabs on these yearly visitors and make sure they are healthy.  Most of the time a seal will come ashore just to rest and relax. However sometimes they do because they are injured, sick or being chased by a predator.

Scaring them back into the water can put them at risk. We are seeing more and more seals every year on our shores as their numbers increase. Seals have been migrating to Delaware for a very long time.

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

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