Tautog action for keeper fish is picking up at the inlets

Antares launched this past weekend, great to watch live and up close, well, as close as NASA lets the media get. Submitted photos

Getting colder and now the days are officially shorter, thanks to daylight savings time. That initial shock of it being dark much earlier always throws us off, good thing Mother Nature doesn’t turn back her clocks, just ask my dog. The only advantage is it is lighter by the time on my clock when we come off the beach from fishing.

Nighttime is the right time hunting for larger striped bass. You might spend hours casting without a bump but that isn’t what we are out there for most of the time. Just being in the outdoors in the predawn hours is rewarding, and we always say that since we aren’t catching too regularly. Catching is definitely a bonus.

Tautog action for keeper fish has picked up at the Indian River Inlet and Ocean City Inlet. Green crabs and sand fleas being the bait of choice. Many more anglers are jigging for tautog these days. Lead Pot in Millsboro makes some excellent tautog jigs. It is much easier to jig for tautog than bait fish for them. You don’t have to set the hook before the fish bites, a challenge for many anglers.

Fall Fish Bowl Nov. 30

The Fall Fish Bowl surf fishing tournament is Nov. 30 at Delaware Seashore State Park hosted by Delaware Surf Fishing. Surf anglers can sign up at Icehouse Bait and Tackle on Del. 1 in Lewes.

The surf has been quiet for catching but some fish have been produced. Short striped bass being the main catch. Occasional flounder by jigging or fly fishing, mostly on the bayside of the point. That won’t last long, the water temperatures are getting down there.

Speckled trout have been making a showing in the surf and area tidal rivers of Sussex County.

The summer fish are all but gone but spot, puppy drum, and kingfish are still being caught on fishbites bloodworms formula. Use the red packaged formulas for better results in colder water.

Mullet are about nonexistent in the surf and back bays. There have been some cob mullet caught for bait. You will need frozen to go for bluefish on mullet rigs. Should see the larger stargazers hitting soon. Issue is this time of year everyone is soaking bunker chunks looking for large striped bass. Dogfish and skates are always abundant.

The one catch that has been seen more of this year are larger weakfish and speckled trout. Good to see the sizes increasing, now just to see the numbers beef up would be nice.

Boats are doing well on sea bass, and flounder are still hitting on wrecks and reefs as well.

Migratory striped bass

The migratory striped bass action is still far north of us, but you can get in on the short bass action in the area waterways. That has been great action for those putting in the time. Sitting on the couch waiting to hear about a bite is the best way to miss out. These bites can last minutes to hours, you just never know. Should have been here 15 minutes ago is the preferred saying this time of year.

White perch is starting up in the creeks, live minnows are the best baits or small pieces of worm. You can use the small perch jigs under a bobber for them as well but bait usually produces better results.

Another sign that winter fishing is coming, as soon as the crappie start hitting more we will be in full winter fishing. Bass and pickerel are still hitting, even snakeheads.

Norfolk, Va.-based marine contractor Coleen Marine carried out the sinking of a retired cruise ship 16.5 nautical miles off Indian River Inlet. Submitted photo/Capt. Chris Ragni

DNREC’s artificial reef program sinks ship

DOVER — DNREC’s artificial reef program within the Division of Fish & Wildlife enhanced the state’s renowned artificial reef system by sinking a retired cruise ship on Delaware’s Redbird Inshore Artificial Reef Site #11 located 16.5 nautical miles off Indian River Inlet. The retired cruise ship’s sinking was carried out by Norfolk, Va.-based marine contractor Coleen Marine.

DNREC says the ship’s vertical profile gives it a great attraction both as fish habitat and for underwater exploration by divers. For dive trips, the former cruise ship offers four passenger decks for exploration.

Delaware has 14 permitted artificial reef sites in Delaware Bay and along the Atlantic Coast. Funding for acquisition, environmental preparation, and sinking of the retired cruise ship as the latest addition to the system was provided by DNREC’s Division of Fish & Wildlife using federal Sport Fish Restoration grant funds administered by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.

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

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