By Eric Burnley Sr.*
Updated: March 5, 2015
ADVISORY: Downstate trout season opener postponed until Saturday, March 14
Due to the recent extreme cold weather and iced-over ponds, the Delaware Division of Fish & Wildlife has postponed opening day of downstate trout season by one week, from Saturday, March 7 to Saturday, March 14 at Tidbury Pond near Dover and Newton Pond outside Greenwood. Both ponds will remain closed to any fishing until March 14 in preparation for the new downstate opening day. Click here for more information.
It has been impossible to even consider any type of activity on the water of the bay or any of its tributaries due to all the ice. Last weekend there were plenty of folks who came to bay beaches to take photos of the ice, but I don’t believe anyone tried to fish.
INSHORE OCEAN As of Thursday boats were still iced in at the dock. Warmer weather is on the way, but it will take some time before the water temperature goes high enough for even tog to start feeding.
INDIAN RIVER INLET Lots of ice here as well. The shallow water in the upper river will warm before the inlet and we could see some perch caught in the next week or two.
FRESHWATER Spillways remain the only open water in the state. If we get some decent weather folks might begin fishing here for perch, pickerel and crappie.
FISHING AND WIND Wind causes the cancellation of more fishing trips than any other weather condition. Ask any charter captain what is the one thing that causes him or her the most aggravation and I’ll bet you it is the wind. NOAA weather reports don’t help. I have cancelled trips due to a high wind report only to wake to almost calm conditions. And I have also gone out on days when light winds were forecasted only to end up getting a good butt kicking.
If you live near the water you can check the wind before leaving home, but those who live a hundred or more miles away have no choice but to believe the NOAA weather report. And then there are those who apparently don’t listen to anything. They will show up at the tackle shop to buy bait without taking any notice that all the boats are still secured to the dock, the flags are standing straight out and small dogs and children have been tied down.
When the wind allows us to fish it also determines where the fish may be. A west wind may blow the water out of shallow areas while an east wind will blow the water in. If you are flounder fishing in the spring an east wind may make it possible to fish shallow areas where flounder will be seeking warm water.
A west wind will bring cold water to the beach. It will blow the warm surface water offshore allowing the cold water on the bottom to move towards shore. Under these conditions flounder may move close to the surf. It is also fun to watch the tourists when they hit the water on a hot August day with a strong southwest wind expecting to refresh themselves only to find the water a bit too refreshing. This is also the same wind that puts all those biting flies on the beach.
The wind will also play fun and games with wave height. If we have an east wind the mouth of Indian River Inlet will be very exciting on outgoing water. If the current is flowing into Delaware Bay when the wind is out of the north or northwest there will be some pretty good seas around Cape Henlopen and the Rips at the mouth of the bay Most of us who operate small boats have learned these lessons the hard way.
Whenever the wind and the current are running in opposite directions drifting can be difficult. Sometimes this difference can be so strong that your boat will stand still or may move against the current.
Having the current and the wind working in harmony is no picnic either. At the extreme the boat will be moving so fast that a bait can’t find the bottom. A properly deployed sea anchor can help compensate for both conditions.
If we all waited for the perfect conditions none of us would ever get out fishing. On the day you can fish it is a good idea to take into consideration the wind, current, tide, sky conditions and the latest fishing report before leaving the dock. If you plan accordingly there is a good chance your trip will be successful. .
*Eric Burnley Sr. is a native Delawarean who has fished the waters of his home state for more than 60 years. He has been a full-time outdoor writer since 1978, with articles appearing in most national magazines as well as many regional publications. He has authored two books, Surf Fishing The Atlantic Coast and The Ultimate Guide To Catching Striped Bass.