Surf fishing tournament is no breeze in hurricane

JR Griffith holds his winning striped bass as judge and DMS member Tim Wallace looks on with the measuring stick. (Submitted photo)

JR Griffith holds his winning striped bass as judge and DMS member Tim Wallace looks on with the measuring stick. (Submitted photo)

There’s nothing like surf fishing in a hurricane, especially if you are in a tournament. In that case you either fish or get off the beach.

Last weekend was the 10th annual Delaware Mobile Surf Fisherman tournament and it was held during Hurricane Matthew, or at least the remnants of the storm. Anglers were fighting heavy 7-foot waves and sustained 30-mile per hour winds.

Outdoors column logo by . Casting into an east wind is a chore, especially with a lot of weight and bait. Eventually the wind shifted from the northeast and sand was moving across the beaches a good 3 feet off the ground.

On Sunday dunes were forming behind vehicles parked in the same spot all afternoon. Conditions were brutal, but fish were caught. These conditions are what many a surf angler looks for when targeting striped bass. These fish love the conditions since it confuses bait fish and makes for easy pickings. You can see the short striped bass running in the wash of the surf.

The bluefish were hitting in the storm, but you couldn’t feel the hit. Anglers would cast and retrieve every few minutes to see if they had a fish on the line. Mullet was the key bait, either whole on mullet rigs or as chunk bait on top and bottom rigs. Short striped bass action was abundant and a 35-inch striper was caught on Sunday by JR Griffith. That was an exciting catch.

The first day of the tournament there was a decent kingfish bite, but that shut down the next day when the water was twice as rough.

Results for the tournament:

Overall Division: first, Drew Stuchlik; second, Ted Click; third, Carl Koehn; fourth, Shaun Smith.

Women’s Division: first, Anita Chandler; second, Amy Ferguson; third, Allison Stuart.

Youth Division: first, Jace Griffith (16th place overall); largest fish, JR Griffith $750, and Blue Fish Calcutta, Amy Ferguson $1,860.

Fall fishing

Conditions calmed down by Tuesday evening, and the fishing went back to normal.

The fall like temperatures are not only exciting anglers, but the fish as well. Up north in Delaware’s tidal creeks and rivers, striped bass are schooling up and feeding heavily on bait fish. This year it is hoped that many of the 2011 class striped bass will join the Atlantic migration of fish.

In back bay areas of New York and New Jersey anglers are hitting some quality bass that should join the migration this year. Hopefully, we will have a great fall run this year. One can only hope and prepare.

On land

Hunters took advantage of the new Sunday hunting times for Delaware. Many hunters are grateful they can hunt more than one day on a weekend since it is their only time off.

I always say if you don’t know what day is deer season just check any job site: If no one is working it is deer season.

It is muzzleloader season right now, but it ends Saturday before starting back in Jan. 23. It will run until Jan. 28.

Snow geese are starting to show up in some fields up north. That season started Oct 5 and lasts until Feb. 4. Oct. 21 is the first youth waterfowl hunt this year.

Final note

If you are fishing the Cape Henlopen fishing pier the bait shop there will only be open on the weekends. Keep that in mind if you need bait or gear before you get to the park.

Rich King’s column is published Thursdays in The Delaware State News.

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