Winter fishing season on tap

The first sun of winter rises over the Rehoboth Bay. (Special to the Delaware State News/Rich King)

It is now officially winter, and so far we are looking at mild temperatures possibly throughout the year. That will help kick the fishing back into full gear quicker in the spring.

Well, at least that is the hope.

We should see some serious Indian summer days after Christmas and the New Year. Don’t forget to get your 2017 fishing licenses and surf tags before the first of the year. The state offices are never open on that day and people always seem to want to get out and fish.

Even though it is winter, we will be fishing the ponds and tidal creeks. White perch hitting minnows or small jigs under a bobber in the tidal creeks.  The same technique is used to fish for crappie.

You can always hit the surf and hit some skates and dogfish. There are rumors of striped bass in the surf but we haven’t seen any solid proof.

Ghost hunting

Outdoors column logo by . If you want a real challenge then you need to try ghost hunting. That is what offshore anglers call hunting for blue fin tuna this time of year. These fish are moving south and following migratory bass and bluefish schools.

Every predator follows its food, and tuna are no exception. In this case the predatory striped bass and bluefish are now the food.  The hardest part is finding the tuna, then after that it is even harder to get them to hit a lure. You don’t troll for ghosts, you use poppers or stick baits, fishing for the tuna when they are near the surface.

The birds will help you find a school and it doesn’t look anything like a normal fish “blitz”.  The tuna will roll on the surface, not breaking the surface like schooling fish usually do so it looks a little different.  Even the bird action is a little different.  Those tuna are big enough to eat a bird that gets too close.  The birds are aware of that fact.

About a week or so ago, ghosts were showing up in the shipping lanes off of Delaware.  There are still plenty of them up north around New York

Incoming snow geese

Snow geese are filling the fields around Delaware.  Thousands of birds descending at once on a field is an impressive site.  This hunting season lasts until February fourth.

Delaware hunters can hunt snow geese in Maryland with their Delaware hunting license provided they have a Maryland Migratory Game Bird Stamp, a Federal Duck Stamp, a Maryland H.I.P. number and are in compliance with Maryland Hunter Safety laws.

Maryland resident hunters can hunt snow geese in Delaware with their Maryland resident hunting license provided they have a Delaware Waterfowl (Duck) Stamp, a Federal Duck Stamp, a Delaware H.I.P. number and are in compliance with the Delaware Hunter Safety laws. This agreement only applies to residents of Maryland and Delaware.

Get out

The coming warm days will be great to get outside and hike, or ride horses.  One popular off season spot to ride horses is Cape Henlopen State Park and Delaware Seashore State park.  The parks have some really good trails and with the lack of tourists you can get a little solitude in for the day.

Beach combing is excellent this time of year, since there are fewer people out there.  The heavier winds and lower tides help expose more treasures.  I’d prefer a little snow on these colder days, just to add to the excitement, and I get to use my car hood sled.

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

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