It’s about the tide

BURLINGTON, N.J. -- Every fishery has something that distinguishes it from all the others. With the Delaware River, site of the 2011 B.A.S.S. Federation Nation Mid-Atlantic Divisional presented by Yamaha and Skeeter, it’s the tide. Rising and falling as much as 8 feet in one cycle, life on (and in) the river centers on it every day — no exceptions.

Warren Wolk, a member of New Jersey’s Rippin’ Lipz club and a man who’s fished the Delaware for three decades, holds the opinion that the way the tide is playing out will help anglers in the long-run.

With low tide well before take-off, the anglers will be fishing rising water until sometime around 11 a.m. today (Wednesday) and about an hour later than that on Thursday, with another hour added on Friday. That gives everyone a chance to find shallow bass that have followed the water and the baitfish up.

“Most anglers will tell you they like to fish the last two hours of a falling tide and the first two hours of a rising tide,” he says. “This timing is perfect for a strong bite. It should play right into our hands.”

Wolk discounts the recent bad weather. He says the river has basically recovered from Irene, that’s it’s running pretty close to normal and that the rains of yesterday and today should not affect the bite.

That doesn’t mean he thinks there will be a lot of weight caught, however. His prediction is for a winning weight of 20 pounds, with three limits putting any angler in the running for the top individual prize.

“These fish work hard for everything they get. They have to swim hard twice a day all their lives. A 2-pound bass here is probably seven or eight years old. That tends to hold the weights down.”

That general opinion is shared by Mike Kaminskas, executive director and Conservation director for the B.A.S.S. Federation Nation of New Jersey, who says that the river is good to go. He does warn anglers, however, to keep their eyes open and be wary of big drift from the storm.

He also believes that the fishing will be better than a lot of the anglers think, although he doesn’t buy Mike Iaconelli’s (a resident of New Jersey) prediction that it’ll take 33 pounds to win the individual competition.

“Mike might catch them that big here,’ he says with a smile. “But I think our winner will weigh in between 20 and 24 pounds. And I think the winning team will come in around the 200-pound mark, with the big bass going 5 pounds or a little better.”

Information on where the anglers are fishing and how they’re catching them is hard (read: darn near impossible) to come by before the first launch. Most anglers will admit, however, that their bites are shallow and that the fish are scattered and moving. That usually means it’s anybody’s tournament and may very well not be settled until the last cast.