Just a little bit longer. It’s such a rough stretch from after the Super Bowl until fishing starts back up again. At least there have been the usual distractions and a new one to keep my sanity.
I’m still getting through my arsenal of plugs that need new hooks and split rings. Plenty of others I didn’t throw this season and, in most cases, avoided because I hadn’t swapped out the back treble for a single hook. I expect early spring to follow previous patterns of schoolie bass on soft plastics from mid to late March until May then the ultra-satisfying and vicious bite of back bay bluefish. Last year was just incredible with how many blues were around in the bays between Shinnecock and Moriches. It was quality and quantity like I had never seen nor had a lot of anglers with many more years of fishing than I’ve experienced. Primarily a top water bite, the single back hook was crucial for safe and easy releases. I have quite a few plugs that got beat-up fishing jetties for bass that are going into semi-retirement for the bluefish run this spring. I have several others I plan on using for bass once the bigger ones arrive. Not using a back treble, I believe, makes a big difference in release mortality. Keep in mind the size and action of your plugs when choosing a size for a single hook if you’re going to be making the same adjustments as I am.
Much more enjoyable than hunching over the workbench in the garage are the winter shows. I always get a kick out of running into buddies I only see during fishing season. There’s little guilt at this point asking if it was incoming or outgoing on a cryptic post or text of a nice catch. A big perk of sharing my fishing experience through my writing is bumping into new fishing buddies who have read my work or follow me on social media. It really is something special to be part of the tribe of dedicated anglers.
I got to see some very interesting new products and have some nice chats with a few local and regional vendors. In past reports, I had brought up the increasingly popular flutter spoon and its migration from the Raritan Bay area where I first heard of it, to waters off the south shores of the east end. Fat Cow Fishing introduced its version last season and continues to offer them in more colors. These are deadly when working bunker pods. I like them better than live bunker due to less time to snag and redeploy on a circle hook. I’m also biased toward using artificials. I just feel more satisfaction in tricking a nice old cow striper. Fat Cow is also introducing for the first time their line of bucktails. The ones I checked out had plenty of hair and just a hint of flash, which I’ve always found essential for a vicious bite working sandbars by boat or the open beach.
Fight Lure Company based in Westhampton is another one to keep an eye out for. I haven’t used a glider all that often in the past but their popularity is really something to take note of in the last few seasons. Dave Sanatore, the founder of the company, offers his “frenzy” in a variety of colors, lengths, and weights. Through years of fine-tuning, trial, and error, and dedication his glider can fish throughout the water column and extrude many different actions. Definitely worth having a few in the surf bag or tackle box on the boat.
I didn’t get into the city for the boat show at the Javits Center. From what I saw in videos and pics of those that did attend, there are some fine-looking rides from all the manufacturers. Design, features, and tech just keep getting better and better each year.
The NY Sportfishing Federation Show is February 18-19 at the Freeport Recreational Center, and The Ward Melville High School Fishing Club Show and Expo are on March 4th at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket. Both shows offer an extensive number of vendors and seminars. Knowledge, great deals on gear, and time spent with other fishermen is a great way to spend some off-season time. I’m planning to be at both so please say hi if you see me.
Stay sane, the fish will be biting soon enough!