by Jerry Vovcsko
The March edition of Outdoor Life showed up in my mailbox yesterday and I thumbed through it looking to see if there was anything new and interesting. Turns out they were reviewing some freshwater fishing gear and the new version of the Mitchell 300 spinning reel caught my eye. The original Mitchell 300 first appeared on the scene back in 1948 and a couple of birthdays later it became my first spinning reel.
Up to then I'd been using mostly bait casters jury-rigged to whatever rod I was able to lay hands on as back then as money was short and we kids fished with whatever gear we were able to lay hands on. Before the Mitchell 300 showed up I'd been wielding a one-of-a-kind rig consisting of an old fencing epee that my father had soldered guides onto. The "rod" was square shaped metal tapering to a fairly flexible end and the epee grip actually custom fit the hand quite comfortably. A few wraps of electrician's tape was all it took to fasten an old Pfleuger baitcaster in place and I had pulled my share of perch, pickerel, rock bass and sunfish from the waters of Otsego Lake in Upstate New York. But that sword-rod went into retirement upon the arrival of the Mitchell 300 – it had served me well.
Back in the day the Mitchell was a real workhorse and reliable as it gets; hefting it in hand told the story right away: Here was one solid piece of equipment. So, yeah, I was interested in seeing what the "experts" thought of the latest iteration of the 300. They were reviewing the Mitchell 300 Pro model and the folks doing the testing called it a winner. The Pro version's spool held a mighty 210 yards of 35lb test braid and it spun smoothly on ten ball bearings with a 5.8.1 retrieve ration collecting 33 inches of line per revolution of the handle. For a more than reasonable seventy bucks it sure sounded pretty good to me and if I didn't already have seven vintage 300s (I'm a sucker for them when they turn up on EBay) I ‘d probably be tempted to slide into acquisition mode. Anyhow, they look like they just might be a winner.
Recent weather fluctuations have put the kibosh on ice fishing on Cape ponds and lakes. Right now many of those places have three or even four inches of ice, but so-what? Because that ice is sitting there under an inch or two of water collecting as a result of heavy rains and mild temperatures that have begun melting the ice cover. But some folks have gravitated northward, heading off-Cape in pursuit of fishing opportunities not available locals east of the Bridge.
Westward, around Worcester, Lake Quinsigamond has been delivering plenty of pike action and the bait shops have experienced runs on shiners as Central Massachusetts anglers heard about thirty inch-plus pike being pulled from Quinsig. North of us up around Arlington, Spy Pond has produced pike thirty inches and above including one 36 inch beauty taken through the ice last week. In addition, pickerel can be found in most any pond or lake that sports lush weedbeds and even those pocket-sized versions of mini-pike are exciting to hook up with.
Daylight savings is just a couple weeks away and that means spring is a-comin' round the bend. Largemouth bass offer plenty of action when spawning time looms on the horizon, but we oughtn't to overlook what smallmouths can bring our way. Way long ago, further back than I care to remember, an old timer gave me a tip for fishing rivers that held smallie populations that I've used over the decades with good results. He told me to check out wadable rapids sections of rivers where large boulders created pools with riffles as the current flowed past. His lure of choice was a Mepps
or Panther Martin spinner which he cast diagonally across and beyond and then worked back through the riffle. He'd discovered that those v-shaped disturbances in the current were natural ambush points for smallmouths and the years have proved his theory time and again for me. A good pair of waders and a rod with the flex to cast some distance and enough backbone to handle a smallie in the current are must-haves…but this method produces, I tell you truly.
I took a look at the data buoy in Nantucket Sound the other day. Water temperature was thirty six degrees. It's been gradually rising from thirty three and change, which was the coldest I saw back in mid-January. So, yeah, pretty soon the ice will be gone and we'll be making plans and getting ready for reacquainting ourselves with the salt water species' that inhabit our waters through the spring, summer, fall seasons. The merry-month-of-May launches yet another striped bass season on the Cape and that's not all that far off now.
There will likely be some Big-Doings at Fenway Park this year when the Yankees bring the Derek Jeter Traveling Retirement Circus to town. But that's OK…Derek played the game right and he deserves to bask in the sun one more time around the American League. He was one of those rarities in baseball, a genuine Star, and he will have stomped-the-terra for the past 20 seasons when he retires. A lifelong Red Sox fan, I can still appreciate a great player, and Derek Jeter was one of the Greats.