12 May 2016
The 2016 season has (for me) officially begun! I returned home from my annual trip to Florida and went fishing with my buddy Capt. Pete on May 10. Yes, he did catch the first fish $#@*%$!!. But I did catch one more than he did and since it was my boat, it's my rules and I call it a tie :)) Win lose or draw, it is always fun to fish with Pete and the season has begun for both of us so all is right in the universe.
To put things into perspective and once again I fully admit my goal has never been to catch the first striper in the area. I have only caught fish earlier than May 10, 5 times going back to 1999. In 2015 the first fish was May 15 and in 2014 it was May 14.
I started where I always fish, up river on the Merrimack and we fished a combination of 4" & 6" sluggos on 3/8 oz. jigs as well as 3" cocahoes (sm. shad shape, buy them at Surfland Bait & Tackle) also on a 3/8 jig. It was not fast fishing, we only caught 7 total but we both had many short strikes from the micro bass that are up river. The biggest fish was about 18-20"s while the smallest was 10"!!! A 10" fish is only a year old so it is likely that it was "born" somewhere north of the Hudson River!! All were very shiny so I do not believe they were hold overs from the Merrimack.
At the same time in the Parker River my friend Paul Rogato experienced a lot of short strikes but landed 11 stripers! All caught on his surface plugs!! His fish ran from 12" to 22"s.
On Wednesday, May 11, I fished with Paul R. in the afternoon from his boat on the Parker & Rowley Rivers. The wind was blowing us against the tide so some of his spots did not work as well as the previous day. So we went hunting! Paul staid with his surface plugs and I went deeper. Frankly my "go to" rig in the Parker tends to be a 5" to 6" finesse on a 3/8 jig head but the wind forced me to adapt. I ended up with a much heavier Smiling Bill bucktail / 6" sluggo combo and it worked! While I did suffer through many short strikes, I still caught fish from 12" to 22"s that were teaming with sea lice!! These probably just arrived to the river so things are defiantly looking good for this season! I ended up with 7 healthy fish in the 2 hours we fished. The conditions were not in Paul's favor. In my opinion, it is still very early to be catching on a surface plug so his previous days catch was very impressive!
For all of you who are trolling sites, reading reports and waiting to go fishing, it is time to get out there!!! It is looking like we will have a great early season schoolie fishery, just release them quickly & carefully so they all grow up to be something special later in life!