Waiting for spring fishing: Catch white perch, crappie

DNREC stocking trout at Newton Pond. Submitted photos

We are in that part of winter where the fishing is mostly white perch and the yellow perch has just started up heavier. Meanwhile all anyone wants to do is talk about spring fishing and the days of summer to come.

The point in Cape Henlopen State Park closes this weekend, a good indicator that spring is coming and we will miss our favorite fishing beach until the end of the season that has yet to start. At least it isn’t cold and we are not going to see any snow this year. Granted winter ain’t over yet but it pretty much is done. I have bulbs coming up in the gardens, spring is around the corner.

So what do we do until the spring fishing arrives? Catch white perch and crappie, go after yellow perch or neds. Tease the pickerel with shiny spoons, and patiently tempt bass with the slowest presentations ever. Scraping bulkheads for grass shrimp for bait and something else to do mostly.

Winter season clamming is great in the seasonal areas when the air is warm. The water is not warm at all. Lot of great clamming. If you are patient enough, on the warmer days in the muddy shallows, you might scare up a blue crab or two. That is not as likely, but it happens. Mostly we dream of spring days to come and better fishing. The other thing we do is tune up the gear, and attend fishery meetings. Hours of our lives we wish we could get back, but very necessary. There was one last night on the new proposed Cobia creel limits for Delaware.

I hear people all the time complain about creel limits. “They” did this and “they” did that. Yet when I go to these meetings I hardly see anyone there. Usually just the same few people who always attend these meetings. Believe it or not the more bodies in the room the more results you get. Some feel that isn’t true and don’t even send in public comments anymore. That is how you let “them” decide for you, how your fishery will work.

Ocean Arsenals new Surf Bullets, they live up to their name. Cast a mile and slay fish.

It is really easy to follow what happens in the fishery for Delaware. Attending meetings is the best, following online with press releases is the second. It would be nice if DNREC would start broadcasting these meetings on the networks on social media. It only takes a phone and a tripod to display a meeting live on Facebook or YouTube. Recording the meetings would be even easier.

I know a lot of people could stay more informed is this were to happen. How can you make that happen? Request it via your representatives and legislators. There are meeting minutes taken but I have found they are not very accurate. My own public comments never made a meeting I attended in November for the recreational fishing funding council. If you don’t think there is good representation of these meetings then start asking for it. It’s your fishery too, start paying attention to it.

Once we get past the doldrums of meetings and more meetings, we work on gear. What will we need for the coming season? What is new out there? What am I missing in my arsenal?

Multitude of shows

One way to do this is attend the multitude of shows up and down the East Coast. That can get expensive with all that traveling but it gives me an excuse to get out to town for a day or two. The Atlantic City boat show is this weekend. There is a full blown saltwater fishing only show in New Jersey near Essex, NJ in March. The Delmarva Outdoors Expo is April 24-26.

There will be some new fishing gear at this show in April. Ocean Arsenals by Ted Proseus, a new kid on the block, with his Surf Bullet and Sand Eels lures. I have used these Surf Bullets with great success. The Sand Eels are deadly as well. You can check them out at the Delmarva Outdoors Expo, or find them online at DS Custom Tackle.

The other season coming is fishing tournaments. The first of the year for me is May The Fish Be With You surf fishing tournament. If 300 anglers sign up the first place prize is $10,000. That is a big purse for some fish from the beach. I know a few people coming to fish it in Star Wars costumes that should be hilarious to witness. Get signed up, this tournament will fill up fast. Anglers can sign up online at Stub Central or at Icehouse Bait and Tackle.

Maryland has been stocking a lot of their trout streams and rivers. You can follow what areas are stocked on their trout stocking maps on the Maryland DNR website.

Delaware will be stocking Tidbury and Newton ponds soon for the coming trout pond season in Delaware. This is a great time to take the kids fishing, stocked trout in a pond can be really easy to catch. Not to mention they taste pretty good too.

The head boats and charter boats are still hitting tautog from Lewes to Ocean City. Some days are better than others. You have to call ahead to book a trip.

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