Oyster beds producing well; crab harvesting looks promising

Car hooding with Talon and Justin Webb. Submitted photos

Winter, we all hate it but some love it, it depends on what you prefer. The first snow of 2019 brought me enough to break out the 4-wheelers and car hoods, wooo hooo all day long. It was fun but we would rather be fishing.

One thing that occurs in the winter months are updates from all the different DNREC departments and councils. Like a metric ton of meetings this time of year. I have been to Dover in the past two weeks more than I have in the past year. These updates are important for setting quotas and limits for shellfish, blue crabs, and just updates in general for the past year.

I am not going to bore you to death with everything in detail, it is hours of my life I will never get back. I don’t think the paper has enough room for all that fodder anyway.

The oyster update by Rich Wong was promising. The quota was set for the 2019 season at 16,852 bushels, a 3 percent increase from the 2018 quota. The oyster beds are producing well and each bed is monitored for its health and production. DNREC then gives recommendations on what beds should be harvested and which should be left alone.

The science behind this is interesting and informative. If you ever get the chance check out a Council on Shell Fisheries meeting.

The 2018 Blue Crab juvenile index and outlook was given by Mike Greco. There are samples taken from 26 locations along the Delaware Bay above Woodland Beach to Broadkill Beach. This study has been done for about 50 years. It looks at the young of year index to see how well juvenile crabs are doing to predict how well adult crab harvesting will fare for the coming year. We look promising for the 2019 season.

In 2016 … 2.9 million pounds of crabs were harvested. In 2018 it is estimated up to 3.7 million pounds, but they do not have all of the numbers in yet. There is a separate study for the inland bays but it isn’t published. Mike Greco said they may look into making that a public study so people know how well inland bay crabs are doing. It is a recreational only bay(s), these studies are for the commercial fishery.

Surf fishing tag fee

If you haven’t heard, the surf fishing tag fee increase and limited numbers proposal will be heard at the Dover Public Library this morning at 9:30 a.m. I am expecting to see a packed house about this proposal. My personal opinion is they can limit the tags to 17,000 and raise the price $10 and it won’t affect the number of people who surf fish at all.

Let me break the cost down. If the parks go to $90 a year for an instate tag, then it will cost $35 for the park pass, and $55 to drive on the beach. That is what you are really paying, right now it is $45.

The tag works as a park pass in all state parks. We are the only state that does this too, by the way. So raising the surf fishing tag price doesn’t really bother me at all. At Martha’s Vineyard in New York it costs up to $500 to drive onto all of their beaches. Delaware has the cheapest charge for drive on access.

Fishing OK

Soooooo, enough about boring meetings and what not. How is the fishing? Well it is great if you are catching. The charters and head boats are doing well for large tautog. Migratory striped bass have been a severe hit or miss. This is the first year I have seen people happy they are catching short resident bass for a tug on a line. The surf is skates and dogfish and even that is slow.

White perch action has been good in the creeks and tidal rivers. Bass and pickerel are fun — you just have to switch your gears for colder fishing. Slow retrieves work the best. The unusual warmup days are really good for pond hopping.

Outdoorsman event a big success

The Millville Volunteer Fire Company would like to thank everyone for attending their Outdoorsman Marketplace. It was a huge success and they are looking forward to seeing everyone next year. It was a great time with a packed house all day long.

Get ready for the Delmarva Outdoors Expo April 26-28. That is going to be bigger and better than last year!

Super wolf blood moon

Blood moon from the April 15, 2014 lunar eclipse.

For you stargazers the super wolf blood moon is on Sunday night, Jan. 20. The lunar eclipse (blood moon) phase will start around 9:35 p.m. and last until 2:45 a.m. The full lunar eclipse will last an hour, from 11:41 p.m. to 12:44 a.m.

It will be a great thing to see if you never have and the kids will learn a lot if you can keep them up late on a school night. I’m going to spend hours with the new camera.

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

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