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Warm bed more enticing than fishing in the 20s with wind

March 12, 2016

I had every intention of going to Newton Pond Saturday morning. I got up early and checked my outside temperature gauge that read somewhere in the 20s. Looked out the window at the trees and they were moving quite a bit, indicating a north wind blowing at a substantial speed. Then I looked at my bed with the warm flannel sheets and down comforter. I crawled back in bed, hating my sorry self for only as long as it took me to go back to sleep.

From the reports I received, the fishing was not that good at Newton and much better at Tidbury. I will try again sometime in April when the weather is warmer and I can fish the creeks in New Castle County.

Warm weather

This week saw temperatures in the 70s, and next week they will only drop into the 60s. This is all good news for fishermen, but it does take a while for warm air temperatures to translate to warm water temperatures. Since most fish species spend more time in the water than in the air, it will still be several weeks before most saltwater species begin to feed.

On the other hand, it won’t take long for Delaware’s shallow ponds to warm up and get the fish in a feeding mood. Bass will be moving close to shore to build nests as will sunfish. Yellow perch are already on the move along with white perch and pickerel. Crappie action will soon be red hot as well.

While I have great respect for fishermen who only use lures, I am a bait fisherman. When it comes to freshwater, I find minnows, shiners and worms do the job 90 percent of the time. I will fish my baits under a bobber to keep them just off of the bottom and move them from place to place without having to reel in and cast all the time. Picture an old man in a straw hat sitting along the shoreline in a decrepit lawn chair flipping his line out between naps.

Two species that are active in spring and are often overlooked are carp and catfish. Both inhabit our fresh to brackish waters and will give you all the action you want on light tackle.

When I was a kid I made dough balls out of flour and water and stink scent bought from Herter’s catalog. I actually had to read the catalog, write out the order, send it through the U. S. Postal Service and wait for Herter’s to get the order, fill it and send it back through the U. S. Postal Service.

As I recall, there were blood scents for catfish and carp scents that smelled like licorice. I made up my first batch in my grandmother’s kitchen and barely escaped with my life. From then on I had to make the foul-smelling balls in the basement or garage. As I recall, the baits did catch a few cats and carp, but they didn’t work any better than the worms I dug up in the garden. Today, chicken livers or cut bunker are catfish favorites while the good, old garden hackle is still effective on carp.

If this warm weather stays around, my guess is we will see the first flounder in the back bays and the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal by early April. These waters will warm up first because they are shallow and allow the sun to heat the bottom and that in turn will heat the water. Summer flounder are happy when the water is between 62 and 66 degrees, but will start to feed when the temperature is in the mid-50s. The early fish may be a bit slow to bite until the water temperature reaches a warmer level.

When I fished Indian River I would catch the first flounder at high tide on the flat between Whites Creek and the main channel. Often I could see the bottom and ran my live minnows 30 to 40 yards behind the drifting boat. I would run the boat back to the starting point of my drift by going around the flat, not across the shallow water.

If we are going to have a run of blues or rockfish they should arrive about the same time as the flounder. The big question seems to be will we see bluefish like we did last year? Since that was the greatest run anyone still alive can remember, I doubt it. Of course, even if we have a run half as good as last year, it will still be spectacular.

Rockfish are another question. We need east wind to move the bait close to shore and hope the rock will follow. Sometimes they do, sometimes they don’t, and that’s fishing.


Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast. He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at Eburnle@aol.com.

 

  • Eric Burnley is a Delaware native who has fished and hunted the state from an early age.  Since 1978 he has written countless articles about hunting and fishing in Delaware and elsewhere along the Atlantic Coast.  He has been the regional editor for Salt Water Sportsman, Field and Stream, Outdoor Life and the Fisherman Magazine.  He was the founding editor of the Mid-Atlantic Fisherman magazine.  Eric is the author of three books; Surf Fishing the Atlantic Coast, The Ultimate Guide to Striped Bass Fishing and Fishing Saltwater Baits.  He and his wife Barbara live near Milton, Delaware. Eric can be reached at Eburnle@aol.com.

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