Water temps, anticipation on the rise

Connie Payton of Milton (Submitted photos)

It is February spring, again. It doesn’t last long but it allows us to get out and fish.

Water temperatures are key this time of year. If the water is too cold the fish get real sluggish and will barely feed. When the water warms up above 44 degrees or so, the fish get real hungry and active. That has been happening all over Delmarva.

Tidal creeks at low tide are hitting upwards of 55 degrees or more. Masseys Ditch in Long Neck has been increasing a degree a day for the past week and peaked at 51 degrees. The southern tidal waters are warming up faster than the north.

It is time to do some fishing.

The lower Delaware Bay is averaging 44 degrees and 41 degrees up north. The surf is the same temperature as the Delaware Bay, your best bet is to hit the tidal creeks and shallows of the inland bays. Short striped bass (residents) are starting to feed heavily and are being caught readily. Using swim shads, bucktails, or bloodworms. I have seen bass upwards of 25 inches,but no keepers. White perch are hitting as well as catfish. Yellow perch are starting to pick up in Delaware and are on fire in Maryland waters. Fishing this time of year is hit or miss, one day is hot, the next day not. Then all of a sudden catching will take off and keep building. Sure sign that spring is just around the corner.

Grass shrimp

Grass shrimp

Grass shrimp has been a real trigger for the perch and other fish in our tidal creeks. Once that water temperature went up, the grass shrimp emerged in droves. You can get a net full of shrimp real easy along marsh grass banks and bulkheads. Do not use a net near a spillway that is illegal. You can use a minnow trap and grass shrimp will fill up the trap. You don’t even need bait they will get in the trap since it is structure,but bait does help.

Odds and ends

Get your gear tuned up and ready. Check your tackle from last year and get stocked up for the coming season. The folks at Diamond State Custom tackle have been working overtime to get ready to stock stores for the coming season.

Hunters have been shed hunting while they wait for next season and taking down stands. This is a great itmeof year to find sheds and explore the areas you hunt. Rabbit hunting has been great.

Matt Rucks striped bass

The Cape Henlopen fishing piers closed at the very end of the pier for evaluation. Ice has cuased several of the pylons to crack. Parks have closed it for the public’s safety and are evaluating how to repair the pylons. This is just the very end, the pier itself is still open.

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

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