by Frank Ruczynski
Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking, but the title of this week's blog doesn't have anything to do with the recent air temperatures or wind-chill factors. Despite the ongoing cold and windy weather pattern, we're just days away from a new fishing season: at midnight on March 1, striped bass season opens in our bays, rivers, and inlets. Even though fishing action usually starts off a little on the slow side, it will sure feel good to be back in the game!
The recent stretch of winter weather has kept me from hitting the local lakes and ponds. Instead, I've used my free time to prepare for the 2013 fishing season. Over the last few weeks, I've serviced and re-spooled reels, cleaned rods, organized tackle boxes, patched waders, tied rigs, practiced knots, studied charts, sharpened knives, set goals, purchased permits, registrations, and licenses. Believe it or not, I even have my iPhone tricked out to improve my time on the water. I am more prepared this season than I've been in my twenty-plus years of fishing and it feels good.Spring Cleaning
During the offseason, one of the things I look forward to the most is buying new gear. I do a lot of research before purchasing equipment. This season, I was fortunate enough to be enrolled in an Elite Purchase Program offered by Shimano, G.Loomis, and Power Pro. I ordered lots of new gear, but I'm especially looking forward to breaking in my new Stella/NRX and Sustain/GLX rod-and-reel combos. I'm also very happy with the new pair of Kennebec waders I purchased from LL Bean. I can't wait to test all my new gear out on the water!New Gear
As you may recall, last winter was one of the warmest on record and many of us ended up fishing straight through the winter months. A good number of striped bass remained active throughout the winter months. With my favorite backwater holes closed for striped bass, I chose to stay close to home and take advantage of some great freshwater action. By March, I changed over to stripers and had them popping up in all of my favorite early-season locales.
Things are a little different this season. Last winter was much warmer: I believe more than half of the days in February were over 50 degrees last year, while I'm pretty sure we've reached the 50-degree mark three times this month. I just checked the long-range forecast and I'm seeing a lot more 40's in our future. I think it's safe to say, it's not going to be so easy this season.
During the first week of the season, I'm sure we'll hear about a few linesiders caught by anglers plying the warm-water discharges, but most areas won't yield any solid action until mid-to-late March. I usually give the backwaters a shot or two before I head over to the Delaware River to catch some schoolies on bloodworms. By mid-March, the odds become much more favorable and by the end of the month, we usually have bass popping up all over.Soaking Bloodworms in the Delaware River
This spring run is going to be special to me. After Superstorm Sandy, I realized that I took the fall run and coastal fishing in general for granted. I enjoy my time along the shorelines as much as anyone and it was, for the most part, taken away from us by one storm. I haven't visited my favorite places since last October and it feels like forever. I may live fifty miles inland, but those oceanfront beaches and back-bay sod banks are where I belong. The first fish of the year will mean a little more to me this season. Home Sweet Home