Veterinarian Beatrix In Der Wieschen talks about some of the horses rescued in Quantico Produced by Ralph Musthaler
“Long stormy spring-time, wet contentious April, winter chilling the lap of very May; but at length the season of summer does come.” — Thomas Carlyle
Man, it doesn’t seem like spring is really, truly, ever going to get here. Last weekend was a seductive tease: a siren’s song of summer and warm temperatures through Friday and most of Saturday.
The true taste of what (at some point) should be in the offing allowed plenty of bottom paint that had been languishing around in sheds throughout Delmarva to get slathered on to boats, and a strong showing of angling effort.
Jimmy at Dan’s Tackle Shop passed along catches of small stripers and perch to local anglers soaking bloodworms, minnows and shrimp in local tidal tributaries. They also noted that some bigger stripers have landed from Delaware Bay beaches from Slaughter Beach to the Point. Bloodworms have accounted for the stripers, though with the amount of bunker around I would think a big ol’ slab of fresh bunker would turn the trick as well.
Old Inlet passed along that there have been a ton of short stripers in the inlet. The shorties are being swiped on virtually any tide. Plugs are turning the tide for the fish.
The trickle of small blues that we saw last week didn’t really materialize into anything of substance, though, of course, there is always fresh hope. With some just below the average temps for April in the offing for the coming week perhaps more will show.
Capt. Rick Yakimowicz on the all-day headboat out of Fisherman’s Wharf in Lewes reports surprisingly productive tog fishing. The savvy skipper passed along that they saw some limit tog catches on their last trip despite the heavy winds making conditions difficult. The boat hopes to sail daily targeting tog.
With drum season right around the corner, anglers are hoping for a more consistent season than last year. DNREC fisheries biologist Jordan Zimmerman feels that fishermen should be confident about tangling with the big boomers.
"Our data shows that black drum remain abundant throughout their range," said Zimmerman, "though, obviously, variables such as a water temperature and forage can impact availability to anglers."
That whole “water temperature” thing could be a problem, of course, with the below normal temperatures that we’ve been seeing since … well … what month IS it now anyway?
Things are not as rosy on the trout front, however. What used to be the pre-eminent fishery for our area has continued to see hard times, despite severe limitations on human predation. There is at least a little flicker of bright light, however.
“The abundance of weakfish in the division’s Delaware Bay Trawl Survey declined relative to the previous year," explained DNREC fisheries biologist Michael Greco.
“However abundance is slightly above the historical average for the survey. Although fish out to age 3 were encountered in the survey, the majority (74 percent) are less than age 2. Young-of-the-year recruitment, as measured in the division’s juvenile trawl survey, continues to be below the historical average for the survey.”
Perhaps someday we will learn. Take a ride around Lewes and look at all those boats sitting up in boat yards. Those boats build the backbone of our fishing fleet, and that keel was laid on the trout fishery.
It’s pretty clear to anyone that takes an impartial view at the scientific data available: You can’t protect every sandbar shark or striper that swims and have the trout respond to restoration efforts.
The latter is particularly galling as those big stripers that we protect that guzzle down trout and trout food alike then swim on up north, providing great fishing in their historic areas of New England where, by the way, no stripers are produced.
That’s right. They just catch ‘em. We grow ‘em.
It’s great for them — and our local fleet remains on dry land while we scuffle for whatever crumbs of a ground fishery we have left. Simply put, we can’t keep raking the bottom out of the Delaware Bay and treat it as a place to raise stripers and sandbars for the rest of the coast, and expect the trout to return to a level that restores the mighty backbone of what once was something splendid.
Take the time this summer to check out the pictures of the big cow stripers in New England, and then take a drive through the ghost towns of Bowers and Slaughter Beach locally. Just be careful of the tumbleweeds.
Good luck and good fishing.
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