The Delaware River Striped Bass Migration
Every year striped bass flood the Delaware River with two things on their mind, Spawning and feeding. In late February the first of the female fish start moving from the ocean and the bays up the Delaware River. The first fish to typically show up are the female cows that can weigh from 30-65 lbs, these fish are the first to arrive in March. March is a very under rated month for striped bass fishing but yields the largest fish every year. The cow stripers are following the massive migration of the American shad, hickory shad, and gizzard shad. The shad make their first appearance in February most years and are a full strength by March. A buck shad is about 7-10 inches and is a great meal for large female stripers. Along with the shad the suckers move out of the deep wintering grounds in to the Delaware River Estuaries, suckers are a great meal for striped bass. Stripers start actively feeding at the temperature of 45 degrees, there typical comfort zone with the exception of spring migration is 55 to 68 degrees.
As the Delaware River warms more fish come up the river foraging for food. By late March the second massive migrations of bait fish move into the Delaware River system. This second bait fish is the Herring, there are a few types of herring that spawn in the river, blueback, alewife, and thread fins. I must note you can not use any herring as bait as well as the hickory shad. The herring will start their ascend into coastal waters at 41-50 degrees.
In April when the water hits 50 degrees the next massive school of bait fish push up the river, the white perch. By April the river is full of bait. The shad run continues until June as well as the Herring run.