Updated: Apr 25, 2021
April 23, 2021
A Covid hardened North East winter that many of us shared. A winter that left us in further isolation and fewer activities. Die-hard anglers crowded the ice covered ponds while the fly anglers stacked into pools along the snow topped mountains and rivers. Some of us reached even further to the northern tributaries of the Great Lakes to satisfy that itch of a big catch.
As the ice cleared the local trout ponds following a healthy filling of state stocked trout. The buzz begins to build. The focus shifts locally and the real anticipation begins. That smell of salt becomes clearer and clearer. The estuaries start coming to life. The Ospreys are in their arial pursuit at our herring runs. As the silversides begin to skitter around the bays at night.
The feeling couldn't be any clearer. It's that time. A constant check of the wind directions, tempatures and tides you start to feel it. When you are truly connected to a fishery you become a part of it. Your observations start to pay off as you play your role as angler.
The plans are set. George had some fresh oysters from Plymouth Bay. I made sure to have the meat marinating for the grill as Shane departed from the city. We gathered at the table. Shane and Georgie made quick acquaintances as we enjoyed a cold beverage and sizzling barbecue. With full belly's and stories shared we all started to feel that fishy feeling. Energy, optimism and enthusiasm as we wrapped up dinner.
It had been a consistent SW wind all week with consistent warm air tempatures. Water tempatures around fifty degrees. A great time to start looking for stripers in estuaries and bays. Once the tide began to switch direction we squeezed into our waders, filled our fly boxes, lined the fly rods and checked our headlamps. Packed into our cars and drove to a nearby location.
I was eager to jump the gun as the scout that night. Using my light-tackle spinning gear and a favorite soft plastic. George and Shane patiently walked to the shore line as I was casting away into the night. As George told Shane watch this I will catch the first fish, ten casts behind me he tightens onto a small twelve inch bass to begin our year with his first cast!
A bright waxing moon, clear sky and windless night. Fly lines whistling in the air and soft splashes of a lure landing in the distance. As I heard the waves and crashes in a rip above us I began to dial in on that section of the current. A washer machine effect for the bait in that area. Drifting crabs, silversides or mummichugs. A great serving table for a striped bass. With broomsticks for tails and the shoulders to hold in stronger currents with a great advantage.
I was able to connect with two nice twenty inch plus inch bass with memorable head shakes and tug of war tendencies. They might not be the leapers of the salmonoids or the runners and reel burners like false albacore. No matter their size though a striped bass will always leave you with the memorable catch as they hit your lure or fly with full strength and determination. When they commit to a eat they don't miss and never give up a easy fight.
As a good scout would I stepped aside and let the flys start flying into the rip. Georgie connecting on a nice two foot plus fish. With his fly-rod keeled over and a smile that you could see through the darkness. Shane eagerly on his trail getting dialed in on his new fly rod and rig. Then from Georges private stash he passed along a highly productive fly to Shane that the stripers couldn't refuse.
As the hours began to slip away with the tide. The current coming to a crawl Shane was eager to land his first fish of the year. As we fished our way back to the car Shane stepped back into the water for few last casts. As George and I peered through the darkness, we heard a surprised voice "fish"! Shane with a healthy and hungry striper.
Smiles on our faces a beautiful night behind us. Three happy guys with their first fish of the year. For our best estimates local resident fish with some fresh ones riding the tides north behind them. When they do arrive trust me we will be there to welcome them and send them on their way after a little education. Remember safe handling practices this year. Know that we must respect these fish if we want them to be in our fisheries. It will be a sad and expensive day if we ever have to rely on federal programs to hatch these fish for us. Such as some of the new Blue Fin Tuna hatchery programs. I prefer my fishery wild and free!
Rocks Pebbles and Sands