Hunting or exploring, walking the woods in snow is peaceful

Average size of striped bass being caught off the Delaware coast right now. Submitted photos

First real snow of the season! Anyone as excited as I am or not at all? I love snow, I mean if it is going to be cold we could at least have snow and not rain. Walking the woods in the snow is very peaceful whether you are hunting or just exploring. The beaches are still fishable as are the waterways and that is a good thing because we have some company, finally.

People always see big striped bass caught near the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and immediately assume the fall migration has passed us by once again. That happened last week, and it isn’t the case. The big girls are here, mostly the smaller class keeper striped bass in the upper 30- to under 40-inch range. These are the ones I would prefer to keep for eating. Keep in mind the slot limit for striped bass is 28 to 37 inches and/or over 44 inches to retain two striped bass per angler in any combination. Next year we are looking at a further reduction to 28 to 35 inches overall and keep the summer slot season. We will get to that in a few months most likely.

In the meantime it is stretch 30’s, mojos, and bunker spoons on the troll for big striped bass. You can jog for them as well. Large bucktails with twister worm soft plastics, AVA jigs with green tubes have been working as well. I like jigging, you get to feel that fish crush your rig. Trolling, the boat caught the fish you just get to reel it in, still fishing but I prefer the live action.

Gannets are the bird you are looking for diving on bait fish pushed up by striped bass.

Anglers are finding the fish within two miles of shore from the eights to the bumps in front of Sea Colony. Not much of a spot burn because that is the only area you will find these fish traditionally. The fish are on bait, and birds have been a decent indicator of where the fish are and at times not at all. Most of them are in 40 feet of water.

On Dec. 8, 2012, Ben Smith broke the Delaware state striped bass record with a 51-inch, 52-pound striped bass from the surf. He was surf fishing and nailed a state record, on a day not much unlike this snowy overcast day we have right now. The previous Delaware state striped bass record was also caught in the surf.

I would start looking for striped bass in the surf especially on overcast days in the early morning and late evenings. Those fish may be two miles out but they could very likely come close to shore hunting for food. You won’t know unless you put some out there, bunker chunks is your best bet.

Eagles sitting among a lot of birds, deciding which one to eat next.

The only other fish you will find in the surf are spiny dogfish and skates. Some stargazers might be hitting, and spotted hake. I haven’t seen either of the latter yet, plenty of Jersey flounder.

The charter and head boats have been doing decent on sea bass when they can get out there and some tautog. The weather as of late has not been the best conditions, right snotty is a good description. Doesn’t matter the weather for some anglers right now everyone has striped bass fever. December is the new rocktober.

Swans flying in formation.

Get your gear tuned up and reels restrung, you don’t want to lose the fish of a lifetime to worn out gear.

Waterfowlers are getting decent amounts of ducks. I watched the swans at the dump the other day, probably the cleanest looking water in Sussex County. The eagles were sitting among the birds, feeding on one when they got the hankering for a meal. Looked like something out of National Geographic.

Hunters have been doing well with deer. Today would be a nice day to just be in the woods and enjoy the scenery.

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

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