Spring’s here and the short striped bass have arrived

Nothing like nice spring weather to finally kick in and turn the fish back on.

The cold snaps are over, and we have been out daily hammering short striped bass.

The little males also known as rats are all over the place schooled up and feeding. They are a lot of fun on ultralight gear. Using small swim shads, bucktails or even speck rigs and dragging them in two at a time.

The big cows are starting to show up more frequently in the Delaware Bay.

Mind you we are in the spawn season regulations, so be careful where you fish. Honestly you should let the big female bass go for several reasons, the most important being they produce a lot of eggs. Also we have consumption advisory in Delaware and you should not eat more than two, eight ounce filets of striped bass a year from the Delaware bay.

Nancy Bradley at Bowers Beach holds a striped bass ready for the restaurant JP’s Wharf. (Submitted photo)

These big “spawners”  are literally upwards of 20-year old fish, and they have bee marinating in those polluted waters for a long time.

Eating the smaller bass at 28 inches is safer and usually guarantees they are male fish. You only need a few males for spawning.  Keeping many of them will not hurt the population.

Trout season

Trout season started for streams and rivers in Delaware over the weekend.  DNREC stocked several locations last week, even with a few golden trout.

Many anglers were worried the swollen rivers and creeks from all of that rain on Friday would turn off the bite and wash the fish downstream. Fortunately trout are smart enough to stick to the sides and stay in calmer eddies until the water calms down.

Despite being farm raised, the trout are accustomed to fast moving water.

The anglers that did get out on opening day did rather well despite the conditions. It was probably advantageous since many who usually wade fish could not get into the water for a couple of days. Not a good idea to wade in rushing waters.

That made for less people fishing which if you have ever seen opening day it can rather comical — people shoulder to shoulder standing in the water trying to fish. It’s something many of us try to avoid, and wait until the weekdays to get in our time.

Now that the water has calmed down, anglers are limiting out in no time. Using small spinners, wax worms and even speck rigs. My favorite is the Panther Martin spinners, the small ones, and even a tiny Mepps gold spinner. I grew up using nothing but Mepps, if you use them right you can catch anything.

Freshwater action has been hot for crappie in all of the Delaware waters.

Cody Mintzer holds a trout he caught in Wilson Run over the weekend. (Submitted photo)

Large mouth bass are readily hitting all kinds of lures and jigs. Pickerel as usual will hit anything shiny and  now that the waters have warmed up they will hit like an out of control freight train. The green snot rocket (pickerel) is on the hunt and can destroy a lure in no time, especially flies.

On the hunt

Hunters are counting down the days until deer season. Thankfully striped bass will keep many of them preoccupied. However thunder chicken season is about to start up this weekend for the spring and there is no shortage of gobblers around Delaware.

I have about 13 turkeys that roam through the yard every morning. They all have names:  Butterball one, Butterball two, Easter dinner, and so forth.

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

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