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December 10, 2016
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A Year-Round Fishery: Bass, shad, walleye, stripers, perch, eels

Megan Dean holds her fish caught on the fly, a Delaware River smallmouth bass.

Walleye are a highly sought-after species in the Delaware, boasting some of the best tasting, sweetest meat of any fish. They dwell in slow, deep pools and in the eddies behind submerged boulders, feeding primarily on baitfish and aquatic insects. This makes them perfect quarry for those who love to bait a hook and sit quietly on shore or in a boat. Since they are a schooling fish, one good “honey hole” can yield a great night’s fish fry. The other attraction for walleye fishing is that while there may be an established “keep” season, it is a year-round fishery, with the fish being active even in the winter months.

Famed for both their flesh and fight, striped bass are best known as an ocean fish, sought and caught off the shores and bays of the Atlantic. What is not common knowledge is that they are able to survive in conditions of fresh, salt and brackish water, and will readily follow bait and other food sources (like our above mentioned shad) well up into the fresh waters of the Delaware.

While they typically are landed by anglers on the lowest stretches of the river, closest to the Delaware Bay, stripers have been caught as far north as Hancock, NY, where they find the local rainbow trout an excellent delicacy. Collecting in the larger pools and moving in schools, they quickly become the apex predator in any section of river they find themselves patrolling.

There are plenty of others species found in the river, each with its own allure. Bluegill, yellow perch, crappie and other panfish are popular with the novice angler, as they are usually the first thing to grab our worm-wrapped hook as a youngster, and are prevalent up and down the river. Muskellunge, a.k.a. muskies, lurk in the slower back eddies and side channels, waiting for unsuspecting quarry to swim by. Large, ferocious and toothy, this “fish of a thousand casts” is notoriously hard to catch, and this challenge appeals to many experienced anglers.
No matter what stretch anglers find themselves on, the entirety of the Delaware River is an amazing year-round fishery, and they will without doubt find a place to wet a line, as well as a species to target while there.