DELMARVA ALMANAC

Only The Hardy Go Winter Fishing

by Dana Kester-McCabe

Fishing is a year round obsession for many anglers. During the deepest cold of winter you can still see certain tough individuals tossing a line overboard or from shorelines and bridges all along the peninsula. There is a bounty to be had if you know where to look and how to be safe.

Inshore along the bays and Atlantic beaches folks are catching tautog. This year good sized flounder has been plentiful up through the early weeks of November. Puppy drum and snapper blues are being caught in the surf. And the Black sea bass season reopens for the months of November and December.

December brings colder weather but often there are many mild days that are good for fishing. And a little chill won't keep people from taking to the surf or heading out into local waters in search of blue fish, and the big rock fish which will be running in earnest by the end of the year. Experienced boaters know to follow the birds in search of their prey.

In January fewer people take their boats out on the ocean or the Chesapeake and have begun sticking more to the warmer shoreline fishing. You can find white and yellow perch in the rivers and brackish waters of the northern Chesapeake region as well as in places out of the wind along the Pocomoke River and Pitts Creek, where a few crappy can also be found.

The toughest anglers are still stalking rockfish in the Atlantic surf or taking off into the bays and creeks in their runabouts throughout the winter months. Every year we hear stories about anglers who get lost or worse while winter fishing; so a few notes about safety are in order:
  1. Dress in layers for variable weather conditions.

  2. If you must go in the water invest in a wetsuit and a good pair of waders. If you already have these be sure to inspect and repair any leaks they may have.

  3. Hypothermia is no joke, so if you are a first timer, talk to experienced people who can show you how it is done in deep winter.

  4. Use the buddy system. If you fall in it's nice to have someone pull you out.

  5. Let someone know where you are planning to fish in case they need to come look for you.

  6. Carry your cell phone with you and make sure its batteries are charged and call home if you decide to move to a different spot during your trip.

Remember that fishing licenses are required in just about every situation and there are limits in the size and number of fish you can catch. Another good thing to remember is that sometimes sport fishing competes with local commercial operations. Try to stay out of each others' way and remember there is still plenty for everyone. And if you are picking up oysters be sure that you are not too close to shore unless you get permission from the landowner.

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