Welcome back! The winter was not so bad. And we were so busy that we hardly noticed it fly by. OK. That's a joke: It was long and cold and we hated just about every minute of it! However, we did get to spend a lot of time planning this year's surf fishing tournaments and the Delmarva Outdoors Expo. And, living at the beach in the winter makes up for it being winter. We do get to spend some time on the sand alone. Hope you had a good winter and I think we're all ready for a great summer.
Spring fishing just picked up to where it was this time last year. We have been patiently waiting for the big bluefish and the black drum to show up.
All of the good fishing has really picked up in the last week so you are just in time. Striped bass have been running and the short striped bass action, though hot since February, has really amped up.
Clam is the bait of choice with bunker right behind it. Bloodworms have been great for short bass and puffer fish in the surf, but everything seems to be hitting clam. That is par for the course in the spring and soon we will see bunker and bloodworms as the bait of choice.
The Cape Henlopen pier to Fenwick Island beaches has been decent for action. You just have to be there when it happens. Sea bass started this week and the boats will be out in full force.
The best time to rent a charter is the weekdays. When there are fewer boats out there you don't have as much competition.
Chillaware Fishing Tournament
Last Saturday was a great day despite the bit of weather. We had 290 anglers in the inaugural Chillaware Island Spring Surf Fishing Tournament.
I want to thank our sponsors, without them this would not have been possible: Sweetwater Brewery, Big Chill Beach Club, Liquid Board Shop, WBOC, Diamond State Custom Tackle, Helly Hansen, Fenwick Tackle, Crooked Hammock, Fork + Flask, Icehouse Bait and Tackle, Lighthouse Bait and Tackle, Big Chill Surf Cantina, Taco Reho, Coastal Contracting, El Dorado restaurant and Madda Fella. Even more thanks to our judges: Suzanne Martin, Corby Fulton, Chris Gibbons, Mike Eckert, Andrew Hansen, David Okonewski, Mark King, and Frank Bolen Sr.
You all did a great job, especially counting skates of which there were hundreds! The skating rink is a fun Calcutta, but a job and a half verifying that they are caught and released. Thank you all!
There were not a lot of fish caught but just about everyone caught something, especially skates. That is the reason we have the skating rink Calcutta. You are going to see a lot of them during a tournament, might as well make it fun for the anglers with a shot at some money for "trash" fish.
Next year we are thinking about a chef and a grill for skate tacos at the end of the day. They are good to eat!
The first thirty minutes a guy was walking off the beach at southside with a thirty-plus-inch bluefish. Everyone looked at me, and when I signaled he wasn't in the tournament, a cheer went up.
He was excited thinking everyone liked his fish, but no, sir ... they are happy you are not in the tournament. That catch got people hopeful to see some more bass caught at the end of the tournament. This is why you never quit early, even if you are in the lead.
Most of the fish scored were northern pufferfish. We had one drum score, some kingfish, and a few bluefish. There were a lot of shad in the surf.
We will add them to next year's list. Irish started targeting puffers the last couple of hours of the tournament and did very well.
That is the thing about tournaments, you have to go in with a strategy and possibly change it up as you go.
A change-up can mean the difference between winning and not placing.
No one loses in a fishing tournament, you have fun and it is a great day at the beach. That is the beauty of fishing tournaments.
We try to make them as fun as possible by doing different things for the anglers.
The skating rink and dogpound Calcutta are one way to let everyone have a shot at winning some extra money. The guys who caught the most skates were having their own contest to out-skate one another. I should have made a side bet on these two ... it was hilarious to watch.
Save May 4th, 2019 for next year's Chillaware Island Spring Surf Fishing Tournament. May The Fish Be With You. The upcoming tournament is War On The Shore and we will get that rolling in June. The October 13 and 14th payout will be up to $10,000 based on the number of anglers that participate. We will have details up in the next couple of weeks.