by Frank Ruczynski
Enough with the snow, ice, wind, and frigid subzero temperatures! Is this South Jersey or Siberia? Instead of dwelling on the polar winter, I'm starting to feel some excitement for a new fishing season. Even though it looks like we're locked into record-setting cold for another week or so, March isn't far away and will surely bring warmer temperatures. The worst of the winter is behind us. The ice will be melting soon!
I'm counting down the days. As I write this, it's a sunny 29 degrees and it feels good! A look at the long-range forecast shows daytime highs in the high 40s to 50 for the first week of March – sounds like t-shirt weather. The Philadelphia Phillies home opener is just forty-seven days away. The first day of spring is thirty days away. Daylight saving time begins in eighteen days. It's hard to believe, but our back-bay striper season opens in ten days!
I'm not expecting a great start to the 2015 striped bass season, but I wouldn't bet against a few prize-winning fish showing up at the local tackle shops early on March 1. Warm-water discharges will likely be a little crowded, but it sure will feel good to wet a line again. If you're not into the warm-water scene, I have a feeling it may be a little closer to April 1 before we see widespread action.
Since fishing opportunities are so limited, I've been busy attending fishing shows, shopping for new gear, and organizing fishing tackle. Recently, my wife and I spent a few days in Atlantic City to attend the Progressive Insurance Atlantic City Boat Show. The big event drew a good crowd and was a real pleasure to attend. It was great checking out the beautiful boats, seeing some familiar faces and talking about fishing. Mid-week hotel accommodations are very reasonable in February and it sure felt good to swim a few laps in the heated pool. My luck at the casino tables was negligible so it looks like I'll be fishing from my kayak again this season. Even though Atlantic City isn't what it used to be, we had a great time and enjoyed our little getaway – we plan on making it a yearly tradition from now on. Atlantic City Boat Show
While in Atlantic City, we hit the Tanger Outlets shops. While boats and fishing tackle are my thing; shoes and purses are hers. It was only fair as I drug my wife around the boat show for hours. While walking around the designer shops I couldn't help notice the construction site for the new Bass Pro Shops. The store is coming along nicely and is slated for a grand opening on April 16 at 8 AM – something else to look forward to! With the Tanger Outlets shops so close, it should be a breeze selling a Bass Pro Shops trip to your better half. Bass Pro Shops is coming to Atlantic City!
If you're looking for things to do this weekend, you're in luck. If you're a surfcaster, you don't want to miss Surf Day at Brookdale Community College in Lincroft, NJ. Surf Day opens the doors on Saturday from 8:30 AM to 4:30 PM and promises," A day dedicated to the surfcaster." It's a good ride for most of us in the southern part of the state, but it's one of the few can't miss shows of the year. If you'd like to stay a little closer to home, you can attend South Jersey Fishing Seminars on Saturday from 9 AM to 3 PM at Island Marine Center at 2602 Shore Road in Ocean View, NJ. Seminars are to include information about fluke, tog, sea bass, drum, inshore tuna, and striped bass. If saltwater fishing isn't your thing, feel free to attend New Jersey Fish and Wildlife's Southern Freshwater Fisheries Forum. Topics will cover warmwater and coldwater fisheries management. The meeting will take place at Batsto Village in Wharton State Forest in Burlington County on Saturday at 10 AM. Right now, I'm leaning on attending the Freshwater Fisheries Forum in Batsto, but Surf Day is still on my radar.
Whatever you decide to do this weekend, I hope you feel a little better knowing that winter is almost over and we've got a new fishing season to be excited about. This winter was tough, but at least we don't live in Boston! Stay warm my friends.