Fish aren’t very hungry so bass action is limited

Humpback whale washed up on the point beach in Cape Henlopen State Park. Submitted photos

Some of us would pay real money for a good striped bass bite right about now. The migratory fishing has been slow, and rumor has it the stock assessment coming out soon is not going to look very good. Anglers are picking off bass from the 8’s to Ocean City but the action is far and few between.

“We were out all day marking a lot of bait and a lot of fish but they just wouldn’t bite. We managed one small keeper striped bass.” Jimmy Young, bartender at Conch Island in Rehoboth.

My theory is that there is a metric ton of food out there and the fish have little competition for feeding. So they can get fat fast and are not as hungry when an angler presents his gear. In other words the fish are not as hungry as usual because of an abundance of food; this means there are less bass than traditionally seen each year. The fish that are being landed are fat and stuffed to the gills with food.

Every year is different but I think we are really seeing the decline in the bass numbers reflected in the catch numbers. It doesn’t take too long to deplete a huge school of fish, especially picking them off year after year.

We will have to see what the stock assessment says, but many are very worried we are headed towards another moratorium. I think all of the states and the ASMFC need to work on better uniform regulations to protect the stocks. Not a popular idea but we need to protect the fish stocks better.

Suzanne Thurman, executive director of MERR, taking measurements and collecting information about the humpback whale.

Some say all the fish are in the EEZ because they know we can’t fish for them there. Not buying that theory, pretty sure fish can’t read a map or worry about economical boundaries and politics.

Tautog, sea bass OK

On a more happy note the tautog and sea bass fishing has been good when the boats can get out. Nice sized tautog being caught on inshore and offshore wrecks and reefs. The inlets for Indian River and Ocean City are producing but many of these fish are undersized.

White perch action has been good in the creeks and tributaries. Bloodworms if you can still find them or grass shrimp if you can catch them. A small jig under a bobber works well too. Nice sized perch too this year, lot of citation sizes.

Surf fishing tag for 2019 if the state raises prices. Get yours before Feb. 1 to avoid the $10 increase.

Fresh water action has been a go to for many of us tired of catching the bass skunk. When the fishing is tough for one species switch up for another. In this case pond hopping for bass and pickerel. There are some nice pickerel in Betts and Millsboro ponds for us down here in the Sussex.

The surf fishing has been slow for dogfish and skate. Occasionally a short bass will be caught. If you want migratory striped bass in the surf you are going to have to be out there when and if they swim the coastline.

Large whale beached

Bernard Mitchell of New Castle reported a large whale beached at the point over the weekend. DNREC and MERR responded and on Monday a necropsy was performed and the whale was buried by the dune line at the point.

The whale was a juvenile female weighing about 40,000 pounds. Apparently she had broken vertebrate and it was assumed it had been hit by a ship. The whale was seen on Friday near Cape May and by people on the ferry on Saturday.

Watching the process to drag a whale up the beach from the water line was interesting to see. I didn’t stay for the part when they cut it up to bury it, that smell is worse than a 9-day old cooler of bait on a 110-degree day.

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

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