6 Feb 2014
We have had record cold, lot’s of snow and the fishing & hunting shows are in full swing! I was fortunate to speak at the Rockingham Hunting & Fishing Show again and there are a lot of fishing addicts out there!! Thank you for stopping in for my seminar and stopping by the Plum Island Surfcasters booth! I have been a member since 1986 and cannot tell you how much I have learned from that club!
My season got started with a quick trip “up river” on the Merrimack River May 6th. I was chasing a rumor of first schoolies. I did not find them but caught my first 2 fish on May 15th and on the 17th caught 20 more with one being just under 30”s! First keeper for 2013!!! Let the fun begin………………………
Mackerel showed up for me on May 21st but typically the stripers were not tuned into them yet, they were still on small bait fish. On May 28th the mackerel were in solid and the bass found them! My charter season could officially begin now that I had live bait & I had my first 6 keeper bass under my belt on the same day.
The mackerel were available to those who hunted them from the end of May through October. We had no bluefish to speak of to chase the mackerel north so live bait fishing was the way to go for the whole summer!
Those striped bass do love their mackerel and my clients saw that day after day.
The bass were in all the places we expect them in the Merrimack River but I did not see the surface feeds off the north jetty or out by #2 like I had in 2011 & 2012. They were on the sand bars off the beaches though and once again could not pass up a live mackerel.
I found the stripers more plentiful in 2013 than I have seen since 2008. They were chunky too! 50% of the fish were 28”s plus so we safely released a lot of good health fish using circle hooks. I probably did not see the numbers of schoolies because I rarely fish for them. I stop targeting small fish once I’ve caught my first keeper on a mackerel. I prefer to target 12-18 quality bass over 30 schoolies any day.
As an aside; for the past 20 years I’ve gone into the new fishing season wondering what I would learn new. In 2013 the first thing I found was a new plug made by Ocean Lures called the Swimming Bait Fish! Like any piece of equipment I had to learn the best way to drive it, but when I did, it was amazing! I have never caught so many “keeper” striped bass (not using live bait) as I did on this lure!! This is a definite tool for the toolbox when the fish are on or near the surface.
There are only 14 weeks left until the marinas reopen! It is time to get down into the cellar and clean up all that gear you have not gotten around to! Yes, I have some too! Time to crank up the tunes and start thinking about all those stripers I want to catch and where they will be hiding this year!!