Re: first day
Where are you fishing? The fish follow certain patterns of movement from their home waters up the coast. Damned if I can figure out what that patern IS, but it's there. From what I understand it has to do with chnages in water temperature, spawning and chasing the migrating schools of baitfish. If you live on the Chesapeek Bay, you are not crazy. If you live in Newfoundland you won't see a striper for months.
Now, let me tell you about something that I just heard about. "Holdovers"! If you live near a river there is likely to be a population of Stripers that never swam south for the winter but instead, swam upstream. I have been led to believe that they are capable of some amazing feats to get quite far upstream, including scaling a tall dam. These are likely to be small fish, called Schoolies, but they ARE Striped Bass and trying out things on these guys now will give you an idea about what will work on the Big Ones in the early sumer. I have no proof of this yet, but I DID get the look you described a bunch of times in the last couple of weeks!
I am, by far, the second least knowledgable or proficient fisherman on this board. I was first but then you turned up. There is a LOT of good information here. I had a lot of "silly" questions last year and got a lot of ribbing and teasing but I also got a LOT of good advice. My skills still aren't up to the level of the words that I was told. Search first, then ask. You will get better results when you DO ask a question.
The NUMBER ONE thing I got told last season was to "put in my time". This means not only fishing but scouting spots looking for structure at low tide that will hold fish when submerged and seeing what the water does as the tides go in and out. You can do that stuff RIGHT NOW. Take the dog and G/F and call it "hiking". Neither of them will know the difrence (trust me). If you are already a fisherman apply what you know about fresh water bass.
Well, that's about it. I can't tell you how to actually catch any fish but I can let you know what I learned last year. Most of these guys are HARD CORE about catchig Big Fish and I couldn't quite get them to understand that all I wanted to do was catch ANY fish to "get the hang of it". If all else fails, sandwoms and clams and the local shoulder-to-shoulder spot will get you something on the hook. That's not the BEST way and it's not what these guys are into, but it's a start.