Join the Club
Outstanding Catch Contest
So what about Sunday, March 20th?
Why do you ask?
Well, it was the last day where we had decent sunshine, calm winds and a reasonable 48 degree day and, finally, 99% of the ice off the rivers and ponds up here in Massachusetts. Lakes are still pretty thick, but they're coming right along. Match this with water at 48 degrees in the river channels and 50 degrees on the flats and that's not bad for the day before the first day of Spring. And also the day before what was to be a full ten days of temperatures ranging from mid 30s with snow to low 40s with wind and rain and mostly clouds. Yikes! It's as if winter gave us Sunday March 20th as a spring tease (maybe I should call it a
and then just rolled right back over us to assert itself as it has been doing all season.
Needless to say, the weather has been big news in New England this winter with record snow falls, municipal plowing budgets being blow up on a regular basis, ski resort sales records and bad backs aplenty from snow shoveling, And oh!, a new sport for you homeowners. Roof snow shoveling! You too can either pay a four digit sum or risk your life to insure your house won't cave in. Gee, isn't New England wonderful!/
The answer is: Yes, it is. It really is. It comes in the form of
Sunday, March 20th. The first day of fishing for this fisherman, in 2011.
I arrived at the launch about 3:30pm as the warmest temperatures for the day were set to occur between 3 and 6 o'clock. And there, at the launch area to greet me, was a nice big snow bank, still persisting but not presenting an obstacle to the ramp as it had on a visit a few weeks earlier to gauge conditions on the late winter river. Looks like my timing is okay. In a less confident moment, I may think I'm over eager and pushing my luck. I still have to maneuver the trailer to get to the ramp, but since I've already shoveled my way to Buffalo and back on my driveway at home, I'm happy I don't need to shovel just to launch my boat.
Launching the boat off the trailer is most often a routine matter and would have been had I worn some knee high muck boots. With the water levels at their Spring measure, the back half of the truck was in water so I had to do some delicate work to avoid stepping into the 48 degree water with my ankle high shoes... I was not successful. Left foot wet and cold. Okay. I'll take note, muck boots would have made the event take half as long and, by the way, dry.
Once out on the water the air was cool but the lack of wind and good sunshine felt wonderful. My first task was the run the 60hp EFI 4-stroke outboard to see how it's winter storage faired. I'm happy to report, all is quite well with the Merc as it was running like the day I bought it. An even and quiet idle, and a nice roll into the power as the throttle is gently brought up. I never cease to marvel at the engineering and precision built into modern outboards.
This is setting up to be a good day
! No shoveling needed, the motor's runnin' great, if the fish have begun their movement into the slowly warming flats, we might actually have a heck of a day on our hands.
First stop a small shallow flats area that you could call a mini-oxbow. On the outer seem of the flat at the river's edge, there's shoreline made up of grasses and brush with openings on either side large enough for my boat move through. Using the trolling motor I silently glide over the less than 2 foot bottom which appears brown and stubby as all the water plants are still in their winter slumber. I start with a perch pattern 2 inch split back Rapala crank bait. Working a very slow retrieve with the occasional 'are you home?' pause, the answer comes back 'I'm not home.' Hmmm, am I too early? So I change to a firetiger pattern crank and work that, hoping the eye-popping colors will spark interest where the more natural perch pattern leaves them sleeping. 'I'm not home' comes the answer to the firetiger... okay what about a 3/16 oz white/chartreuse spinner bait with the classic nickel/Colorado and copper/Willow blades? 'I'm not home.' Looks like this flat is yet to get it's tenants, move-in day is still some number of days off. So I head up river to the next flats area, this one about twice the size of the first flat I visited, but no real structure around it except for a tree line along it's northern border and low lying scrub on the southern side which borders the main river. Again, no one home while working the perch and firetiger baits. I put the spinner bait away since it's just too early for this bait which runs much fastern than the crank baits. In this early season, slow, slow, slow is the pattern.
Then, up to the main flats area, about an acre in size, which is big for a flat off this river in central Massachusetts. There's a nice island in the middle and a weed filled hump that just reaches the surface over in the northeast corner. And so I work the edges all around the perimeter of the flat and in and around the hump area where in year's past some of the largest bass on the flat are caught. It seems the bass are just not home yet. Still in their winter slumber, or should I say 'vacation' homes?
It's getting toward 6pm and the sun, while still up and shining, is moving into the tree tops and so the chill is a bit colder although it's very nice when I face the sun. This time of year, being in shade is a wholly different experience than being in the sun. Coming right up to the inside of the island on the flat I begin long slow retrieves with the firetiger Rapala and sure enough, just like he was waiting for me, big bump! A healthy and very cold, 22" pickerel saying 'I'm home!'. He's trying his best to scrub the bait off on the bottom weeds but they're just not thick enough but when I lift him from the water via thumb and forefinger behind the gill plates, there's a nice clump of brown muck on the bait. Now this is spring fishing in New England! It appears the pickerel are staging in the middle of the flat and have not yet moved towards the shorelines to begin their spring feeding, certainly a sign that the bait fish haven't gotten going yet either. But, following what appears to be an emerging pattern for the pickerel, I continue the slow retrieve with the firetiger Rapala and thump, this is a fish, but it doesn't feel quite like a pickerel. Looks like his neighbor, the yellow perch has moved in. And what a perch! Almost 14 inches long and a solid 2 pounds, this has to be the largest perch I've caught in many years. This is clearly a spawning perch with it's belly all fattened up and private parts swollen and red. This female has been laying eggs. So I carefully remove the hook and return her to the water, none the worse for wear. Continuing with my slow retrieve I manage to catch two more perch of the same large size and spawning color and one more good size pickerel. All in all, quite a good day in the neighborhood!
Alas, the sun is now well below the tree line and the 48 degree air is now dropping quickly into the 30s... time to head home. The outboard starts right up and steady but slowly, I make my way up river to the launch. Yes, it was a typical early and cold spring day in New England, but I'm warmed by the sun on my face and my neighbors, who have given me their river welcome, 'Yes, we're home'!
Only registered users may post comments.
NAFC Club Blog (51)
NAFC Staff Blogs (107)
Tournament Tour with Mark Menendez (14)
Fillin’ the Livewell with Glenn Walker (18)
Fancy Fishing & Master Mishaps with Owl Jones (5)
Maple Leaf Landings with Joel Prunty (11)
Fishing Update with Eric Haataja (5)
Revolutionizing Ice Fishing with the Ice Team (8)
From Lake to Plate with Ryan Pfeiffer (12)
A River Junkie's Journal (10)
Member Snapshots (13)
Bottomless Bass (3)
Bassin’ Basics (2)
Fishin’ Basics (2)
Fish Ed. (13)
December 2013 (1)
November 2013 (5)
October 2013 (5)
September 2013 (5)
August 2013 (6)
July 2013 (7)
June 2013 (6)
May 2013 (7)
April 2013 (6)
March 2013 (5)
February 2013 (12)
January 2013 (15)
December 2012 (8)
November 2012 (3)
October 2012 (3)
September 2012 (3)
August 2012 (4)
July 2012 (6)
June 2012 (7)
May 2012 (4)
April 2012 (1)
March 2012 (1)
February 2012 (6)
January 2012 (29)
December 2011 (26)
November 2011 (21)
October 2011 (20)
August 2011 (1)
July 2011 (1)
June 2011 (5)
May 2011 (6)
April 2011 (5)
March 2011 (6)
February 2011 (9)
January 2011 (6)
December 2010 (5)
September 2010 (1)
Copyright 2013. Enthusiast Media