Tautog action hot around reef area

The weather may be wintry but the fish don’t care.

Tautog action offshore on structure has been hot at reef and wreck sites.

The Del-Jersey land reef area has been a good spot. Lot of eight-plus-pound tautog are being caught.

Using green crabs or white leg crabs, even hermit crabs make great bait but you have to catch them.

You can still catch some calico crabs at the Cape Henlopen pier but they are slow to get into the rings. They do make excellent bait though.

The charter boats have been doing well, and you can still book a trip.  So long as the fish are biting and anglers are willing the boats will head out to fish. Sea bass action is great one day and a dog fish festival the next day on hard bottom and structure.

Michael Lewis and Captain Jon Azato raise up a nice striped bass catch from Wednesday. (Submitted photo)

The Del-Jersey reef structure has been good for some nice sized knot heads and a lot of throwbacks. Anglers are using cut bait, clam or squid for bait. The bigger the bait the bigger the sea bass. I have heard reports form a few charters marking big fish in the shipping lanes. Could be the winter ghosts are out there.

Bluefin tuna fishing is possible this time of year when they are headed south. Hooking one up is  a chore but the action is insane when they are hitting top water plugs. Ghost hunting is what the offshore boys call this action and several of them look forward to it every year.  Striped bass is on the menu for those big behemoths when they are headed south. Rockfish are not just a anglers favorite catch, they also feed larger predatory fish when they are on the move this time of year.

The striped bass made an appearance last week inside the EEZ for many Delaware anglers just in front of the Indian River Inlet.  On Wednesday they showed up again just inside the EEZ. Every boat limited out in less than two hours and had several throw backs inside the slot range of thirty seven to forty four inches.

Some of the offshore boys decided to hit the Poormans canyon and manage to troll up a nice sized swordfish over the weekend.  That was  nice surprise to see at the docks.  You just never know what you are going to get into if you put in the time.

Outdoors column logo by . Short striped bass around the lower bays and tidal creeks are still hitting swim shads and bucktails.  The action is slower due to the colder water but once you find a school the action is fun.  Many anglers are hanging up the gear for the season, but it isn’t over yet.  There are still schools of migratory striped bass north in New Jersey.  The action for anglers has been hit or miss, the schools are not as numerous as a couple of weeks ago, but that isn’t any reason to not give it a try.

Freshwater action has been good for crappie and bass.  Pickerel are hitting hard but slow to the chase.  White perch action has been good on minnows or small jigs under a bobber.

Odds and ends

Hunters make sure you watch the overlapping seasons coming up.  The waterfowlers are hoping the cold and snow are going to help bring more birds to the ground. The deer action has been good for most hunters up and down the state. … If you are into surfing this is the time of year for heavy neoprene and big waves.  The surfers are all hoping for some serious storm surge over the winter and usually they get their wish. … Soon you can hit the outdoors and go walking in a winter wonderland, or at least I hope we can, because if it is going to be cold I would prefer to have some snow on the ground.

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