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Delaware fishermen hope for good landings, no unwelcome surprises in 2016

Courtesty Delaware Surf Fishing
An angler with a large bluefish, like were seen last spring in unusually far inland Delaware waters.

With spring on the way, commercial and recreational fishermen are gearing up for another season on the water -- in Delaware Bay, Atlantic coastal waters and on the Inland Bays. And they could see a lot of ups and downs in the First State's multi-million dollar fisheries this year.

DNREC's fall surveys saw the most young blue crabs entering the Delaware Bay stock in almost a decade. But they're not as optimistic about oysters. In fact, that quota will take a 13 percent cut this year.

Our Annie Ropeik asked Delaware Surf Fishing editor Rich King what he thinks of the fishing forecast for 2016 -- and what recent warm temperatures could mean for watermen.

On the cuts to the oyster quota: "With the numbers down and all that, they kind of asked the guys to spread themselves out across the beds a little more. ... The best thing to do would be to not try to over-harvest oyster beds."

On what drives overfishing in Delaware Bay: "You have one fish that's been limited for a creel limit to reduce the catch limits so they can rebuild the stock, so everybody goes and fishes for something else, and they wear on that species. And they just keep bouncing around, and eventually everything gets kind of worn out."

On the possibility of seeing large ocean bluefish in inland waters this year, like last spring: "I hope those bluefish show up again, but I hope they don't stay for 7 weeks, because they ate everything while they were here. The fishing this summer was not that great. It was good, but it wasn't great, and a lot of people think it was because of the bluefish coming through. They ate everything that was out there."

On how warming oceans could impact fishing in Delaware, which drew 300,000 and generated $118 million in economic impact in 2015: "It's possible. The unique thing about fishing in Delaware is we get a variety of species here, because we're literally in the middle of the East Coast. So we see warm-water and cold-water fish for a large portion of the year."

On what he's hoping to see this year: "I'm hoping we get a decent striped bass run. It's just hard to tell. The hardest thing in the world to predict is what fish are going to show up when, how many, how long, how often. ... The best way to figure it out? Get out there and fish."

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