Catch Fish Or Just Fool Around With Them?
Some say back in 1582, when France switched from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, April Fool’s Day was born. Folks slow on the uptake were tagged with paper fish on their backs and were recipients of many jokes and hoaxes. These people were referred to as “April fools” and the fish supposedly symbolized young and easily caught fish and a gullible person.
Well, April Fool’s Day has passed, but we are embarking on a season of young and easily caught poisson when fishers attempt to fool these hungry, foraging fish. Whether anglers are pursuing feeding hatchery trout or ambushing bass in the sweet water, or testing their skill in the briny-seeking striped bass or blackfish, they are attempting to fool these fish. Only in some cases, some of these fish will be the ones tagged for various reasons — research, competitions, etc.
This is also the season that several fish species can be targeted by anglers. In addition, to live baits, there are literally mountains of artificial lures, including hand-tied flies, that can and will be used to entice a fish to bite. The one thing all fish have in common is that, beginning in April, they respond to the increase in water temperature prompting their drive to spawn and eat.
Effectively imitating forage under the right conditions will get results. Starting with size, shape, color, and action is a good place to begin. Material and construction that generally affects likeness is something else to consider. And finally, rigging can make the difference between a hookset or not hooking up at all.
For this time of year, a few basic hard and soft lures (or flies when fly fishing) are a must. Water flows and levels will help to make that determination but paying attention to where in the water column fish are feeding is important. Therefore, floating, intermediate, or sinking lures are an advantage at any given time.
Understanding the various lure designations and when to use them will enhance success. Eventually, matching and mastering certain lures with the time of year will build confidence that will translate into more catches.
On The Water
High pressure built in from the west, bringing mixed sun and clouds after a bout with rain and wind. An arctic cold front approached from the mid-west and moved across the region as high pressure slipped in, followed by a low-pressure system that brought more rain, opening the door for another high that eventually tracked offshore. Spring weather took hold as air temperatures hiked to the high 50s and into the 60s.
Average river flows are being encountered with water levels above average. However, with the coming of the Full Frog Moon on April 6, tidal currents will also be above average from Saturday through Tuesday. Long Island Sound nearshore water temps topped into the high 40s as gusty winds to 35kts calmed, and 4-5 foot seas subsided while afternoon visibility improved under more mixing of sun and clouds.
Inland fishing continues to grab attention, with anglers taking advantage of the breaking weather and reports of good fishing. Hatchery trucks are regularly making the rounds stocking rainbow, brook, brown and tiger trout, including the specially designated waters to accept the very voracious seeforellen strain. Be sure to have scented baits, inline spinners, swimmers, and a few flies handy.
A live worm drifting near the bottom has gotten action. On calmer days, anglers are also canvassing the broodstock Atlantic salmon waters, where catches are improving in-between dam releases. Not many anglers are testing the searun trout waters and are missing out on fish making their way upriver. However, returning ospreys are prepping their nests while plying nearby waters for fish.
Lake and pond fishing is definitely into early spring mode, as large and smallmouths are on soft plastics, cranks, and jigs. Double and single blade spinnerbaits should be considered, as well as natural baits. Check out the shallows! This is the time of year when bass become very territorial, protective, and aggressive. Use that to your best advantage by working the shallows, feeder creeks, and the vegetation line. Pickerel (spinners, swim baits), crappie, and perch are feeding (jigs, worms), catfish (nightcrawlers, stinkbaits), as well as other species that are taking artificials and natural baits.
If rod-bending striped bass action is what you have been waiting for, break out your light to intermediate gear. Air temps will be rising to the high 50s and into the low 60s while water temps will stretch to the high 40s, which means that not only will tidal rivers see more activity but nearshore waters (beaches and bays) will also see better forage (shad, herring) opportunities.
Soft plastics, swimmers, and sinking flies will be high-value artificials as well as soft natural baits. Take along one or two of your top springtime-producing surface poppers (bone, shad, chartreuse) that have been credited on more than one occasion to have saved the day. Incidentally, check out the backwaters of tidal rivers for those hard fighting and good eating white perch being caught on jigs and worms.
And now for the spring blackfish (tautog) opener. Togs optimum water temperature range is generally considered to be 50- 68 degrees. Past experiences have shown that when surface temperatures hit 50-53 degrees, the early bite kicks into gear. When fishing the walls, the adjacent water usually heats up sooner due to the sun warming the rocks, a good point to remember. Tying on a togjig or simple blackfish rig tipped with a clam, mussel, or crab (when available) and fishing near the rocky bottom is the desired target zone.
Unfortunately, and similar to last year’s opener, weather, and sea conditions were not as cooperative as they could have been. Southwest winds gusted to 30 knots, and seas hit 2-4 feet. Although a few togs were caught by determined toggers from semi-protected sites, conditions had a mostly negative impact.
Fly fishing: an outstanding opportunity for the experienced or beginner. Booking inland and marine fly fishing lessons for 2023 with World Fisher, certified world fisher, certified master fly fishing casting instructor, and fishing lodge director. From trout, salmon, steelhead, and sea-run browns to striped bass, bonefish, permit, and tarpon, etc., techniques learned and honed will improve your fishing.
Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and International fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media.
For all things fishy, including the latest gear, ice fishing, flies/fly fishing, rods/reels, clam/crabbing supplies, fishing trips, licenses/permits, and much more, swing by the shop (203-245-8665), open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter and Authorized Penn Premium Dealer, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better.