What to do outdoors during stay at home order

There is a lot of confusion about what you can and can’t do during a stay at home order, one of them is not lock yourself up in your house. Unless of course you have symptoms, then by all means stay home.

I think we could all use a break in the outdoors and fortunately that is allowed. You don’t have to hide in your houses, you can get some air, it isn’t toxic. Even if that outdoors is in your backyard. The main idea is to stay away from each other, something many of us outdoors folks prefer.

By the way for all you golfers, the courses are allowed to be open. The Rookery down in Sussex County has been rather busy. Ski resorts are allowed as well, but yeah ummm, we don’t have any of those. Marinas are allowed to be open and you can use state boat ramps. Kayakers can put in as long as they are not using a beach area such as the Cape Henlopen State Park fishing pier beach, but the pier is open. I have a list of areas open to fishing with links on Delaware Surf Fishing … https://www.delaware-surf-fishing.com/open-areas-anglers-can-fish-in-delaware/

There are plenty of places you can be outdoors and still social distance. State parks and lands are open in certain areas for exercise and walking your dogs. Surfers are allowed at the Indian River Inlet, so far. Some of these “allowances” may change for the better or worse. That depends on how many people decide to abuse them. If you were down here last weekend on the eighty degree Friday, it was crazy crowded at the town and walk on park beaches. We are hoping soon we can surf fish a beach, that is prohibited right now. Which I understand, but I can surf fish at a beach and no one is within a hundred yards of my truck this time of year.

Fishing and hunting are the original social “distancers”.

So let’s start there, social distancing in the outdoors. That means don’t move around in a group and when and if in a small group, stay six feet away from each other. Not hard to do, the anglers fishing the Indian River inlet walls are staying clear of each other. I’d be more worried of getting hooked in a back cast than breathed on when fishing a line up. So if you are out and about, keep your distance. I’ve met a few people this week while fishing, we stand ten feet apart, chat, and then go on our merry way. The fact you can’t shake hands is awkward, but understandable.

So why would anyone want to fish right now? Well for one the spring striped bass run has started and it is early. The Delaware Bay has some large bass moving north and the average fish is about twenty pounds right now. I know this because I spent a day with the commercial anglers out of the Smyrna area. I have always wanted to check out how these folks catch fish and the whole process. I know they get a bad rap from recreational anglers, blaming them for the decrease in fish stocks. Honestly and I say this a lot recreational anglers can be the worst on a fishery. For many reasons, one being there are so many of us, and many don’t know how ot release properly. A commercial angler’s quota can be hit by a single recreational angler in under a month. Commercial anglers are not as bad as people think. That is a huge misconception and I learned how much on Monday. Brian Hoffecker, commercial angler out of Smyrna, Delaware … “We want to leave fish in the water, so we have more for the next time we can fish our quota. We are allowed 1230 pounds of striped bass. What you saw us catch today is half of that quota. Normally it averages to about 60 to 70 fish. We rarely see that large fish you saw today, we aren’t used to fishing this early, we usually wait until April for the market prices to increase. We were told two weeks ago to stop fishing and pull our nets, the market crashed, our buyers weren’t buying any fish or anything. We were literally shut down completely and didn’t know what to do. Then two weeks later they asked us to catch about a thousand pounds to a ton of striped bass so they could store fish for the summer when the markets open. So we went back out for much less per pound than usual, just to make some money, we have to pay bills. Then we asked DNREC if we were allowed to sell to our friends in the community, people need food. DNREC agreed, we have been surviving by selling to the community.”

The one issue for recreational anglers is most bait shops are not considered essential businesses, so many are closed. The only shops that are open are at marinas which are deemed essential and allowed to be open. Many shops and myself have petitioned the State of Delaware to allow the bait shops to stay open. Port Penn bait and tackle is allowed to be open, Richard King is a commercial angler and sells take out seafood at the shop, fish and crabs. “We have a take out restaurant license, so we are allowed to be open. We will still have bunker and whatever bait we can get in for anglers available.”However at the moment getting bloodworms to a shop is an issue. White perch fishing is hot right now. Many people are supplementing their grocery bills with fish this time of year. They do this normally, now even more, I mean have you seen the meat department at some of the grocery stores? It is easier to catch a fish than a steak right now. Hopefully the state of Delaware will recognize this need as a necessity and allow bait shops to remain open. We don’t congregate at these shops, we usually grab what we need and leave. We are being told we can go fishing, some anglers need bait.

Trout season is about to start and it is still open for those wondering. We need bait shops open for that as well. DNREC has delayed the opening to allow people to spread out a little. DNREC … “The opening day for Delaware’s spring 2020 upstate stream trout season has been changed to minimize crowds and accommodate responsible outdoor recreation during the current coronavirus (COVID-19) period. Trout season will open several days earlier than planned in seven designated trout streams in northern New Castle County for only youth anglers under age 16 on Monday, March 30 at 7 a.m., followed by the opening of trout season for all anglers on Tuesday, March 31 starting one half-hour before sunrise. Youth anglers can be accompanied by adults but fishing on March 30 should only be by the youth.”

One source for bait for the pier anglers at Cape Henlopen state park is the bait machine at Lighthouse view bait and tackle. Dave Beebe owner of LVBT “The bait vending machine is stocked and has been getting a work out.” If you decide to do some pier fishing just distance yourself it isn’t that hard. Don’t mug anyone’s spot if they catch a fish. That is not only rude, but not a good idea right now.

Boat anglers, you have striped bass in the Delaware bay. They are running in schools, you know the drill, you have to find them.

Flounder are showing up around the inland bays. Be careful the channels aren’t marked yet in the inland bays.

If the powers that be are reading this please do us outdoors folks a huge favor. Open the surf fishing beaches, even if limited. This time of year only the anglers go to the beaches to fish. There are a few simple ways to make that happen. We have accesses that do not have parking lots, many of us carry our own air compressors. We don’t need access to those. Faithful steward crossing in Delaware Seashore state park and York Crossing in Fenwick Island State park could easily be opened. York has an air compressor.Open them it dawn to dusk, fishing only, no corn hole, grills etc, just surf fish. State of Delaware residents only? Put up any restriction you want, many of us just want to surf fish and social distance as ordered. I think you will find the surf anglers will comply with any restriction you set forth.

Also could you allow the bait shops to be open. We are being told to get outdoors and social distance some night crawlers would go a long way. The kids stuck at home, their parents could use the relief as well. The kids could use the education.

I would like to thank the powers that be for their due diligence in this crazy time. I know this has been difficult for everyone. I have friends that are legislators and we have been talking a lot, give them a break, they are working on this as fast as they can.

Social distance, wash your hands, and don’t touch your face, or mine!