The leaves may not be out on most of our trees just yet, but spring has already sprung as far as fishermen are concerned.
Following one of the warmest winters on record, local freshwater anglers have found the fish ready and waiting. With water temperatures already pushing to nearly 50 degrees on some of the shallower lakes and ponds, panfish and largemouth bass have begun edging toward the banks, carp are prowling the channels, and trout fishing has matched early-season expectations.
Especially solid has been the trout action. That isn’t as surprising as it is just plain reassuring to feel those first few tugs at the end of a line. By now all of roughly 20 Long Island waters scheduled for stocking have received their first deposits. Many will see a second or even third shot of fish added during April and May. The DEC and New York State Parks release nearly 30,000 browns and rainbows across Nassau and Suffolk counties. Most of these are eight- to nine-inch yearlings but more than 3,000 are two-year-old browns measuring 12 to 13 inches. Those are real quality fish and their numbers should be slightly augmented by holdover fish from last fall’s stockings at some locations.
Traditional spring trout hot spots include Upper Twin Pond in Wantagh, Massapequa Reservoir, Argyle Lake, Oyster Bay Mill Pond, Centerport Twin Ponds, Upper Yaphank Lake and West Lake in Patchogue. All of these are worth a try using garden worms, Power Bait, corn kernels or small Panther Martin and Mepps in-line spinners. You can review the entire trout stocking list at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html.
If you don’t mind fishing with a little company, head over to Belmont Lake Saturday for the annual Spring Family Fishing Festival. DEC and NYS Parks load the big lake with plenty of trout to ensure anglers have a super chance of hooking-up. The festival runs from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. and a freshwater fishing license is not required to participate. The DEC will have free loaner rods and bait available for those lacking their own gear (but bring your own if you have it,) the Art Flick Chapter of Trout Unlimited will offer free fly-fishing instruction, and the Seaford Knights of Columbus will run a Spring Fling Casting Contest for the kids.
Codfish arrive on the scene
On the saltwater front, big news arrived this week in the form of thick schools of codfish invading the waters south of Block Island. The Montauk open boat Viking Star was in on the fun, limiting out and heading home early Wednesday. Bajram Lleshi of Staten Island took the pool with an 18-pounder while Joe Volpe of Port Washington finished second with a respectable 15-pound baccala. Several Montauk charter boats limited out with cod last week, too.
With gusty winds expected Friday, it’s doubtful the fleet will be sailing but the forecast looks good for Saturday. Several boats in the Captree fleet also plan to head out this weekend, some for cod and others for a shot at winter flounder. Call ahead to make reservations and confirm sailing schedules.
If you still haven’t had your fill of herring, a few can still be found after dark at Magnolia Pier.