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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A question often asked is how does spring striper fishing differ from fall striper fishing. Obviously we are catching the same species, so there are some similarities, but there are quite a few differences.

Our Delaware Bay fishery was a bit slow to get started last fall due to the warm water temperatures (and lots of sand eels). Some fish showed up around the third week of October but the first big wave of big fish came in the beginning of November. These October fish initially fed at the mouth of the bay and gradually worked their way up the bay, feeding as they went. Eventually the upper bay fishermen got their shot.

I think this initial wave was our Delaware Bay spawners, a population that does not migrate as far north as the Chesapeake fish. Sometimes we refer to these as local fish as their migratory path does not take them so far to the north, hence, they are the first to arrive in the fall. I think these are the same fish that overwinter in the lower river and will begin their spawning run once the rivers reach the upper 50 degree temps.

The next fall group was the southerly migrating Chesapeake stock. This is the vast majority of the big fish we catch chunking in the fall. This year they hung around well into December, and chunking was productive until I took my boat out in mid December. The season for chunking was about 3 weeks later in the season then usual. By the end of December, the largest majority of these fish moved on.

In the spring we have a completely different situation. Our fishery in the spring is almost entirely our own Delaware Bay stock. The Chesapeake fish used to come into the rips and mouth of the bay as they moved north, and some still do, but lately they have been moving north offshore of the 3 mile limit.

As the fishery begins we will find most of our fish moving onto the shallower areas of the bay, warmed most by the sun and ebbing waters from the feeding creeks. Here the waters come to life with the plentitude of crab species coming out of the mud, blossoming of the different shrimp species, emergence of the polychaete worms, predonderance of silversides, mummichogs, and many other bait species.

We catch many fish in these flats but also catch them in the other sloughs, lumps, and edges of the bay. No one knows the exact distribution of the Delaware Bay stock during the winter. Some of our stock probably overwinters down with the Chespeake fish off of the Virginia Capes and down to the northern barrier Islands of NC. Some of the stock may overwinter offshore a bit, particularly during these warm winters.

Based on my own observations and catches, I think the real big Delaware spawners are overwintering in the lower Delaware River. I think some of the midsize fish up to around 38 inches overwinter down south, a bit offshore of the Delaware, and some in the Delaware Bay itself. The reason I think the big spawners overwinter in the Delaware River is that no 40 and 50 pounders are usually caught until after they are done spawning, despite all the boats pursuing them in the bay prior to the spawn. In years past we did used to catch some very large fish pre spawn, but this seems to longer be the case.

As the fishery begins in March, we will see the winter hold overs joined by the nearby over wintering group. As the nearby fish swim into the bay, they will afford us the majority of the keeper size fish we harvest. These will be prespawn and loaded with roe. These fish will eventually reach the largest spawning grounds below the Commodore Barry Bridge. The spawning Delaware stock take about a month for all fish to be done spawning. Nature created this time frame to allow for the greatest chance of a successful spawn.

Once done spawning, reports will filter in of the biggest of the Delaware Bay stock.

 

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As always Capt. Harv, good information. Your posts and seminars always have usefull information in them. Looking forward to this year bassin spring,summer and fall:D
 

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Thanks Capt.

Everytime you do this, I have to go to the encyclopedia to understand you.:confused: 3 other windows open right now.:D

Great theories and ideas about what's really happening. Thanks for the lessons on the resource.

Are you having any seminars anywhere?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
No seminars scheduled for this year. I was thinking of starting a seminar series on inshore fishing concentrating on stripers and fluke. Maybe next year. Going to be too busy fishing soon. :)
 
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