It’s amazing the difference a day makes on the fishing front sometimes. Pulling up to inspect a small freshwater pond Wednesday afternoon, I was greeted by two anglers coming off the lake.
“Tough day,” one of them said, having caught and released only a couple of yellow perch and a small largemouth bass for several hours of effort. “It’s sunny, warm and the wind’s not too bad,” one of them added. “We thought the fish would turn on for sure.”
Well, they should have been there the day before. On cloudy, windy Tuesday the same lake produced several bigmouths to nearly 3 pounds for a pair of anglers in waders working small suspending minnow plugs and finesse-style soft plastics on drop-shot rigs.
Local waters have certainly warmed significantly over the past week but during early spring freshwater fish tend to avoid bright sunshine as much as possible. Most likely that’s because with so little weed and zooplankton to diffuse the light or cloud the water at this time of year they feel vulnerable patrolling the shallows.
Since just about every local lake these days has an osprey — or an eagle — looking down from above it, plus a mix of anglers wading, kayaking and boating around the perimeter, it’s a fear that seems well founded.
Still, you can bet the bass, sunnies, pickerel and even trout are headed for the shallows over the next couple of weeks. Fish quietly and you’ll find them during the afternoon snuggled against the phragmites and cattails, holding off sandy points, and pushing up tight to retaining walls.
Striper season opens Saturday
Saturday marks the opening of New York’s striped bass season in marine waters. Anglers have been playing catch and release with schoolies for weeks but now the search can start in earnest. With plenty of bunker entering the South Shore bays and westernmost Long Island Sound harbors over the past two weeks, it shouldn’t take long for bigger bass to fall in line.
Captree should have at least three open boats looking for the linesiders on Saturday including the Island Princess, Captree Pride and Capt. Gillen. There are bunker and smaller baitfish well up into Great South Bay at this point, and a fair number of schoolie bass have already been caught and released from the stretch between Fire Island Lighthouse and Ocean Beach this week.
Striper regulations remain the same as last year with a one fish bag limit and 28-inch minimum size.
On the winter flounder front, action remains picky, as expected. The western Sound around City Island remains the current hot spot with a few fish also caught aboard the Captain Rod sailing from Captree. Mussels have had a clear edge over worm and clam baits so far.
Cod fishing is your other salty option at this point and it’s been pretty good when the boats can get out. Capt. Steve Kearny ran his Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk 60 miles southeast of Jones Inlet on a wreck trip Sunday and found a nice mix of cod, pollock and hake. Two anglers tied for the pool this voyage with a pair of 33-pound baccala.
If you are thinking about jumping on an open boat this weekend, be sure to call ahead. Not all skippers plan to sail on Easter Sunday.