Striped bass activity is increasing in our area

Richard King of Port Penn Bait and Tackle with a 51-pound striped bass. (Submitted photos)

Over the last few days striped bass have been moving up the Delaware Bay into the Delaware River. These are most likely resident fish, but they are females full of eggs, and big. No one has seen any sea lice on them, which is a good sign to identify ocean striped bass.

The Nanticoke River is seeing the same activity, with spawning females heading up river from the Chesapeake Bay.

The bass in the Chesapeake Bay are moving into areas to spawn. The fun yet annoying part of migratory fish is figuring out when they are going to show up and if they will come close to the coastline. Right now fish are moving into the Delaware Bay and I would start looking under those schools of bunker in front of the beaches that the gannets keep diving on. A nice overcast sky is perfect.

The birds have been working the coastline pretty hard. You will see about a hundred birds raining on bait and then it stops. Fromm Prime Hook to the Indian River Inlet we have seen a lot of gannet action. Gannets do not look for food they follow the food. So when they show up you know there are fish in the area.

Shad action has finally picked up in the Delaware River up north but catches have been sporadic. Shad spoons are your best bet for these catches. Keep in mind many areas the shad are running are off limits for striped bass due to spawning grounds.

Bunker snagged in the surf by Jesse Williams.

Richard King, owner of Port Penn Bait and Tackle, has been seeing some decent sized fish.

“I have caught a bunch of 30-pounders and this last one has to be at least 50 pounds. It took everything I had and my mate to pull this fish. We are getting a lot of rock in our nets going for bunker,” he said.

The spring run is underway and we do have spawning areas that are off-limits to fish without the proper gear restrictions. Check your local area for restrictions.

We have been on the beach the past few days fishing and exploring the tidelines. That is where you find some of the best evidence of fish in the surf. Recently I found a bunch of crab claws and one or two spider crab molts. That is always a good sign if the crabs are molting.

During the beach clean-up on Sunday I found a sea robin minnow that was still alive. I also found sand flea husks or molts. We did find one live sand flea. They are deep in the sand at the water line but not hard to get with a good shovel. Fish will be feeding on them in the surf line.

Live sand flea found in the surfline at the beach.

There is also a lot of bunker out there. Gannets have been raining along the surf in groups all day long. I was watching them in Delaware Seashore State Park this morning. An hour later I get a message there are gannets raining off Cape Henlopen, then another call an hour later they are in front of the Indian River Inlet.

Those birds are on bait fish, but what is under the bait fish is what we want to know. Striped bass or bluefish would be the best and preferred guess.
There are reports of bluefish up north in Jersey. Smallstriped bass are mixed in with the bunker around the inland bays and Delaware Bay.

White perch action has been steady if you can find them, yellow perch action has benn spotty. There have been a bunch of northern snakeheads caught.

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

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