For a few weeks now we have been trying to run a limited schedule with our regular Full-Day trips sailing around the weekends, and for just as long we have been plagued with virtually every weather scenario that you can possibly imagine in our region and we have battled much colder than normal water temperatures in the Delaware Bay and along the Atlantic coast. Finally I can now report that we have made it away from the docks over the last couple weeks with a handful of trips and we have actually seen our first Tautog gracing the docks for 2014.
It's been really hard trying to get the ball rolling so far this year with the wind and the cold. Mother Nature has thrown out many brutal punches so far this spring. We have been fortunate enough just recently to see some of the nicest weather of the spring so far and along with the decent weather a few Tog have become a little less dormant and actually taken our offerings of a fresh hunk of bait!
Our first trip out was nearly a month ago and even though it was a picture perfect day on the water, all we really saw was calm seas and cold water. It would be a couple more weeks before we even thought about taking the ropes off of the boat. Two weeks ago we finally made it out again and we had our first actual biting fish of the season. Nothing great but we caught some and at times it was such that when you baited up, you were confident that you would get another bite or even catch another fish. While the vast majority of the ones we caught had to be thrown back because they were a little too small, it was nice just to see some fish come over the rail and we actually saw a few anglers weed through the little guys and land a nice limit of fresh Tog. Water temperatures that weekend were still very cold but unlike our first adventure of the year at least we saw surface temperatures that were above 40 degrees. The bottom was much colder and the fish that we caught felt as if they had just been pulled out of an ice box.
Prior to this past weekend's fishing we had a few really warm days and watched surface temps climb several degrees. With hopes of better fishing off again we went this past Saturday and Sunday however the action was still much less than spectacular. We did pick at the Tog but it was painfully slow and hard to get the fish to add up for most folks at the rail. The bite was almost like a scratchy peck from the fish and they really wouldn't commit to sucking in the whole bait. The finicky bite coupled with the big ground swell made it very hard to feel the fish biting at all. Lots of empty hooks, and way too many empty coolers on the boat for my liking but there were quite a few decent sized fish around the boat letting me and everyone at the rail know that they were in the game. This particular game just wasn't like we are accustomed to seeing usually at this time of the year. The fish still feel as though they have already been iced down when you catch them and even your sinkers were cold to the touch when you brought it up from the bottom. Our best water temperature on the surface this weekend was about 46 degrees and the bottom temperature continues to be just on the high side of 40. The water temperature graph at the Delaware Light Buoy looks more like a graph that you would see on the CNBC market report with the spikes and the dips we have been seeing but at least it is on an upward overall trend.
Hopefully we are over the hump now for the unsettled weather and our water temperatures will continue to creep in the right direction. Fish most certainly seem to be on the move right now, there is plenty of baitfish beginning to show, we have seen lots of bird activity, and we have even spotted the first big pods of Dolphin for the year. In just the handful of trips that we have run so far we have already noticed a few subtle changes. Just this past weekend we saw our first Spiny Dogfish Sharks of the year. While I would really prefer not to see them, it just goes to show you that fish are indeed on the move. A couple weeks ago the majority of the Sharks were way offshore and nobody fishing within 20 miles of the coast had even seen one yet. There have also been a few Sea Bass caught and released in this range, and the first Bluefish and Flounder have also been caught hook and line in our area. It won't be long before everything begins to turn on.
Starting this Thursday April 17th we will resume with our daily schedule for the Full-Day Trips sailing at 7:00 a.m. I will be anchor fishing primarily over shipwrecks and reefs for the Tautog and we will return to the docks around 4:00 p.m. So far it has been almost exclusively Tog however we did see just a couple of Red Hake this past Sunday and even a small Codfish. I would imagine we will be seeing more Sharks and possibly a stray Striper at some point but the Tog will be the primary target. Our Season for the Tautog will run until the second week in May and right now the creel limit is three fish 15 inch minimum size.
If you would like any more information about trips sailing out of the Wharf or you would like to book a private charter or reserve space on one of the upcoming special trips please give us a call at (302) 645- TUNA.
Until Next Time Happy Fishing!
Capt. Rick Yakimowicz
Thelma Dale IV