If you want bigger fish than trout, would you believe shad and stripers are coming up the Delaware River? Although the river will be high, cold and fast this week, the fish are there but may be reluctant to bite until water conditions improve.
Bill Brinkman from Brinkman’s Bait & Tackle in Philadelphia gives the following report:
The river (Delaware) has been getting better each day. Anthony was out this past Thursday and caught six stripers and a few catfish. The bass were 14-22 inches and picked up on bloodworms. Another customer picked up five bass below the Tacony Bridge. These fish were 12-19 inches and also caught on bloodworms. From the Philly airport down to the Commodore Barry Bridge, some bigger 20 to 28-inch fish were caught. Farther down around the Salem Canal some fish 20 inches up to 40 pounds were hooked last week. Most of these fish were also caught on bloodworms but a few guys hooked them with bunker.
The upper river from Trenton up to Lambertville, shad fishing has picked up a bit. But here the water temps are not coming up fast enough with all the snow melt from up state areas. Trenton area on the low tide has been doing the best behind the railroad bridge with pink, chartreuse and orange shad spoons. Up at Washington’s Crossing, Frank picked up three shad on Tuesday of last week, all with shad spoons. All were small bucks.
Farther up river, Tom picked up three walleyes at Point Pleasant up in the rocks with live minnows. And Charlie (another regular customer) waded just below Bryan and caught a 19-inch walleye and two 13-inch smallmouths, all with watermelon grubs.
As for saltwater action, Brinkman gave this report:
Saltwater fishing has not changed a bit. Anglers still catching plenty of stripers 15-30 inches at Oyster Creek power plant. Bloodworms, chunked bunker, 4 and 5-inch shad bodies, Fin-S fish and Daiwa SP minnows have been working best. The Mullica River has also been good in the Route 9 area. Stripers here are running 15-24 inches plus white perch up to a pound are also being caught with bloodworms, grass shrimp and one customer had one on Fish Bites.
Trout action was much better on Sunday after the opener but most local streams were still on the high side, slightly discolored and cold. Some debris was still being snagged. But at least a few anglers caught trout. And with the predicted Tuesday and Thursday rain, stream conditions will once again be bad even though the Little Lehigh is scheduled for stocking on 4-3, and the Jordan Creek, 4-5 in Lehigh County. And let’s not forget about the Lehigh River that was stocked on opening day from Canal Park in Northampton up on through Laury’s Station, Treichler’s and upriver to Bowmanstown.
On Saturday’s opener, anglers complained not only about the high, ripping water, but also that each cast snagged sticks, branches and leafs. A couple anglers at the covered bridge on the Little Lehigh in Lehigh Parkway, had a collection of stick-fish as they called the pile of sticks they hooked and stacked up on the bank.
If you’re an avid user of butterworms, they’re a bit on the scarce side, and pricey. If bought in bulk, Amazon lists them at $55 for 250 or $35 for 100.
Also known as the Chilean moth, it’s a moth of the Cossidae family. The butterworm is the larvae form and is commonly used as fishing bait but also used for food for insectivore pets such as geckos, reptiles and birds, as their scent and bright color help attract the more stubborn eaters. They’re also called tebo worms or trevo worms and are high in fat and calcium. They’re difficult to breed in captivity and most are imported from Chile. They are usually irradiated to kill bacteria and prevent pupation as the moth is an invasive species.
Most are available at local tackle shops like Bob’s Taxidermy and Bait in Orefield; Willie’s Bait & Tackle, Cementon; Coplay News Agency, Coplay; Chris’ Bait & Tackle, Mertztown; Archery at the Glen, Allentown; Mike’s Bait & Tackle, Nazareth and pet supply stores where they’re likely more expensive. Given a choice between butterworms and mealworms, the former will likely out-fish the latter.
Nick Hromiak has been an outdoors and automotive writer for over 30 years. He's been published in numerous national and state-wide outdoor magazines and newspapers.