Getting outdoors in the age of social distancing

A red fox who visited us while surf fishing 3Rs Beach in Delaware Seashore State Park.  Did you know red foxes are actually an invasive species?

Spring is here, the fish are showing up and the one thing you should be doing is social distancing yourself. Fortunately for us outdoorsy folks we prefer that distancing. Fishing and hunting are literally the original social distancing.

No one likes to fish in a crowd and you certainly can’t hunt in one. The lone angler in the evening enjoying the outdoors is my favorite past time. There are fish and plenty of places open to visit. Get out and get some fresh air, just be safe and smart about it.

First up a clarification from last week. Logan Lane Pond is for handicapped anglers ONLY. If you are not handicapped and you fish the pond, you may be charged with a violation. This restriction is in the Fishing Guide. Because the pond is in a wildlife area, the rule restricting fishing to the handicapped is part of DNREC’s Wildlife regulations and can be found on the Wildlife Area Map.

I apologize for not making that clear last week.

The Delaware state park beaches are open to drive on and walk on and fish. You can also walk on and fish the town beaches, good structure in Rehoboth Beach at the storm drains and jetties.

I have been spending all my time home in the woods at my house, or at the beach surf fishing, alone. I don’t mid a few friends fishing with me, and for the most part if we are all separated enough, it is fine. They drive their own vehicles and I do as well. Because there are fish to catch!

Short striped bass have really amped up and have the feed bag on. This is the first wave of the spring run, resident fish schooling up and feeding. Surf rat wrangling is on! Small jigs with white soft plastics, bass assassins, work well. Sand fleas for bait. Some stores are open, call ahead. Port Penn bait and tackle is daily catching fresh bunker.

\Kevin Golden Jr with a short bass caught at the beach

If you want to avoid (social distance) any stores for bait, sand fleas are abundant at the surf’s edge, especially at low tide. Just dig a few inches. Use a real shovel those little ones will keep you there all day digging.

You will find enough to fish the area. It may take a few scoops. Put a couple of the big fleas on a DS Custom Tackle surf rig with the six-aught owner hook and throw it out there. These rigs are also available at Icehouse Bait and Tackle, and Dan’s Tackle Box.

You should be fine with a four-ounce pyramid sinker this week. Sand fleas won’t drag your gear around like a bunker chunk in current.

There are keeper resident striped bass in the area waters up north. Bloodworms was the bait of choice for Cory McCans at Woodland Beach Sunday.

“The wind was kicking and I had been on the pier fishing with my girlfriend for about three hours and hadn’t had much luck. It was getting pretty cold and we were just about ready to call it quits but decided to freshen up our bait and give it one last cast,” he said.

“A few minutes later The rod bent over and the reel started screaming. It put up a fight but I got it to the surface and realized there was no way I was going to pull it up on the pier and risk it breaking off. I ran it back to the rocks and a local whose name I believe was Joe helped me wrestle it up onto the shore and a few others helped measure. Shout out to Joe for all his help if he’s reading this!”

Cory McCans and Bryn Stephanie with a 32-inch striped bass he caught at Woodland Beach Monday .

Great example of making that last cast and putting in the time.

I had to ask, did you keep the fish?

“He didn’t keep the fish he let the guy who helped him wrestle it in take it,” Bryn Stephanie said.

“The guy said he was just at the grocery stores and all the meat was sold out so he was thankful to take it to cook up for his family.”

Sometimes even social distancing can be a great social experience.

Despite all the craziness going on and whatever your feelings, one thing is for certain if you are going to practice social distancing, fishing is a darn good way to accomplish that and have some fun. I’m going somewhere every day this week. If too may people show up, I’m going somewhere else.

Perch fishing is good as another option. I would also float a boat and fish for flounder around the inland bays. Pond hopping is getting better. Fishing is “lit.” Get out and get some fresh air we could all use a deep breath of it right about now. Take advantage of the free access.

Graf Eggers with a short-striped bass (surf rat) caught at the beach.

From DNREC: “To encourage Delawareans to be active outdoors and to provide space for activity during the coronavirus period, no fees will be charged or passes required for entrance to Delaware State Parks and state wildlife areas, effective immediately until April 30.”

From Maryland DNR: “Governor Hogan has issued an executive order related to licenses, permits, registrations, and other authorizations that may be expiring or up for renewal during the state of emergency. The executive order immediately grants a grace period of 30 days after the date of termination of the state of emergency. This includes items processed at our Maryland Department of Natural Resources Licensing Service Centers.”

Maryland has canceled their spring trout stocking until further notice. I have not heard if DNREC will still do the second stocking of the trout ponds, Newton and Tidbury.