My spring saltwater fishing report summarized – slow! While I was quickly rewarded with a beautiful 23 inch striped bass on my first day out at Pavilion Beach in Ipswich back on May 3rd, it’s been a mixed bag since then.
What’s to blame? Shortened fishing sessions (either I’m getting old with less energy or being a father is limiting my time on the water)? Increased boat traffic (engine noise and boat wakes don’t correlate with feeding time)? More fishing pressure?
My best day fishing this spring was of course on a guided trip with Greasy Beaks Flyfishing and Captain Eliot Jenkins. Puttering around the Plum Island Estuary, we found birds working the surface and fish splashing, a rare treat. We got some cooperators after switching flies to a large black and purple baitfish imitation. All hard fighting striped bass in the 20+ inch range, but no slot sized fish (working on removing “keeper” from my vocabulary).
Other than that – found one fish at high tide in the North River in Scituate after meeting a friendly fellow kayak angler, and one fish at twilight on Crane Beach in Ipswich. My fishing journal shows many other blank days at locations old and new. My favorite spot, the Essex River estuary in Essex, has only yielded one shad in three outings (though it was cool to catch a new species on the fly).
A last ditch effort will have to be getting out there at the crack of dawn to avoid other boat traffic which disturbs the stripers. I’m reluctantly coming to the conclusion that the best fishing this time of year is between 5am and 8am. While the big ones come out to feed at night, early morning is the best bet for steady action.
I should also diversify my travels, as my comfort spot in the North Shore and Cape Ann has dominated my choice of venue. Time to explore!
I would have to call this season weird, as I’ve heard others say. When the season started I heard rumors that while the stripers weren’t abundant, they were at least decent size. To be fair, I haven’t caught any babies. But this year has felt different given that locations and tactics that have worked in the past aren’t yielding the same results.
Well, time to adapt – mix it up, get up early, find new places, go where the fish aren’t being bothered. Most importantly, keep ’em wet and treat those striped bass like what they are – a gamefish. Here’s hoping for a good summer bite.