Weather is now more for the birds

14dsn surfing photo by .

Delaware surfers, who have been enjoying warm winter water temperatures, had a swell time late Sunday afternoon. (Special to the Delaware State News/Rich King)

The winter weather has made fishing a bit rough with heavy winds and gale warnings this week.

But a few boats have managed to head out for tautog. Striped bass are still being caught off the Jersey and Delaware coasts.

That action will stop soon as the dropping temperatures push the last of the fall migration south.

Outdoors column logo FINAL by . Anglers up and down the east coast say this has been one crazy run this year. We have El Nino to thank for that, temperatures have been the same from Virginia to Massachusetts.

Katydid Sportfishing out of Lewes has been loading the boat with a lot of citation sized tautog. Surf fishing has been mostly dogfish and skates. Neds or yellow perch are starting to hit more frequently, as well as white perch and crappie bass.

Birds are back

The cold weather is bringing the birds to ground.

“I hunt on the Elk River over water,” said Rory Schuster of Newark. “I am in the banded bird program. I think that is interesting to know where the birds originated from, how old they are and gender. I have a passion for waterfowl and I’m out there a few days a week. The season closes Feb. 3 in Maryland.”

Delaware’s season will close on Jan. 30.

There is a snow goose conservation order hunt Feb. 1-5 and Feb. 8 through April 9 with no bag or possession limits.

The skies have been black in some areas with snow geese this year.

Running rabbits

Small game is a favorite among many hunters. Bill Dorey of Milford likes to get his dogs out and look for rabbits.

“This year has been pretty good for rabbits,” he said. “The warm weather made it a little tough in the first part of the season and was hard on the dogs, but for the most part there are plenty of rabbits on state and private land. Rabbit hunting is really all about the dogs and how they work.”

I asked Bill if there are there any regulations for using dogs on state lands?

“No, not really,” he said. “You just can’t let the dogs on any private land that might border the public land or on any designated refuge.”

Storm swells

The waves have been heavy with the winds and storm swells. Next week we are looking at another possible swell.

“We’ve had an epic beginning of winter for waves so far,” said Steve Di Girolamo of Ocean View, “with the warm air and water temperatures combined with the weekly waves in the chest to head high range and old surf spots breaking again thanks in part to hurricane Joaquin moving sand around and keeping the crowds scattered all over the coast. It’s as if it was a nice active hurricane season in October or something.

“Water temps in the 50s in January is insane. Some guys are still out without gloves on, I’m in 2 mm gloves and 3 mm boots and I’ve been comfortable.”

Fee discussions

The proposed fee increases for hunting and trapping workshops started Tuesday night in Sussex County and will end on Thursday in New Castle County.
Attendance was more than 100 people  in Sussex — three times the audience last year for all three counties.

The general consensus seems to be people are all for increased fees so long as maintenance of areas is top priority as well as opening up more land for hunting.

The conservation access fee is even getting a decent amount of support by both hunters and non hunters.

Sunday hunting, though not on the agenda for these workshops, is certainly on the minds of all hunters.

Delaware hunters would like to see Sunday hunting allowed, at least on private land and if necessary just as a archery only day. The Sussex county meeting was very civil and organized.  Big thanks to DNREC and all the attendees for having a great conversation about these increases and issues.

Oyster quota

The Delaware Advisory Council on Shellfisheries met last week and announced the oyster quota for 2016, which is down from last year due to poor recruitment of spat (baby oysters).  The limit this year has been reduced to 10,662 bushels for waterman. The blue claw crab survey for the Delaware Bay showed that crabs are on the increase this year and that is good news for waterman and those of us that love to eat crabs.

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

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