Tuesday, March 9, 2021

03.09.21 Let's see where this warmup goes...


     Well we're all waiting. The anticipation has peaked. One of the biggest indicators of the start of the season is the water temps. While striped bass can tolerate falling water temps from the fall into winter it usually takes a little warmer temps in the spring to get fish moving. 

     At the end of the year we fish and watch the temperatures, some say above 45 degrees, some say 42, others 40. It depends on why would a fish tolerate cooler water temps and resist the move to search for warmer waters. Bait will keep them around, sand eels, crabs, a late herring push. In the spring its the primal instinct to procreate, which coincides the migration of forge fish, menhaden and herring. 


 In the spring anglers use a tad higher threshold to get out and meet the moving bass. Some say the magic number is 50, other 55, with 65 being the number for all out spawning and feeding. while the USGS gauges can be an indicator of water temps, that surface temperatures. There are deeper waters that have a higher temp lower in the water column not effected as much by the snow melt and run off. 

     I think the are coming, as they always do, for the Delaware, they make a move on the warmer days, and then pick a spot to hunker down if there's a cold snap. And the they move again. Check out the map below to see the mile markers along the Delaware, mid river. To note the Delaware River is 300 miles long from Hancock, NY, where the East and West Branches meet down to the Delaware Bay above Cape May. Researches say striped bass can travel just under 13 miles a day when they are heading up river(s) to spawn. 

     So now we wait, especially the fly rodders. Early anglers that are most successful are those using bait, bloodworms and cut bait, like bunker, or even clams. In the Delaware the bass will be following up the shad, and then the herring. They both may be around, but early on its hard to get one to eat a fly, and if so, its usually a larger fly that matches the bait hatch. There are smaller resident fish around, but those won't usually take a big offering. The anglers throwing plugs do well, maybe best, late April through May, and possibly into June. 

     How big do Delaware River bass get....big. Now the fishery is a hot mess. Less fish means less spawning fish, and less fish mean less anglers. Below is a fish caught and released in 2020. These are 

big egg laden fish ready to spawn. Now, catching one of these pre-spawn shouldn't be your motivation, and getting one a fly rod is, at best, slim. For me, I look to just enjoy fishing, to physical and mental addiction, and hope to catch the smaller males in the 28-34" range. These big girls come early, up, do their thing, and leave, the males will linger a bit longer just trying to get one more tryst in before they get the memo the girls are already out in the ocean and heading north. 

     Lookin at the USGS gauges we see the temps are around 38 degrees, but today it looks like we may get up to 60, which will help warm up those mud flats and get them out of their lethargic state. They'll be sniffing and rooting around for worms and smelly meals, but will soon chase plugs, and flies tied that match the hatch. And then, as far as the Rarity is concerned, there's the bluefish, who can invade the Rarity and Shrewsbury and Raritan Rivers chasing bunker. 

     Its been another year where I didn't go through my stuff, or spend countless hours at the vice. So my first outing will be done with some old-ass fly line complete with lots of nicks n memory, most likely a leader that has about 2 pounds of strength left, and some old nearly rusty and faded fly. But at least I'll be out there, and again getting stared at and questioned, "Can you fly fish for stripers?"