A check of my records confirms it. By this date in 2018, I’d already landed a double-digit number of bass 10 pounds or greater. (And some of those were significantly greater.) This year, not so much. Not at all, really. I have yet to land a striper. I’ve only hooked one. The rest have been random nips and swipes from dinks. Where have all the big striped bass gone?
I have a couple theories. The first is that they (nor their smaller brothers and sisters) never settled into this mark for over-wintering. That explains the painfully slow fishing from January through now. The second is that absent any substantial number of over-wintering fish, there would now need to be a reason for them to be there. (Read: bait.) And the herring are in late this year. Wednesday night was the first time I saw any signs of those wonderful oily baitfish, and the stripers hadn’t yet got the memo. It’s not just my mark. I have a reliable report of another herring factory estuary that is currently infested with Alosa and there are — wait for it — zero bass on them. So we’ll wait for the next tide cycle for the chance to catch bass that can be measured in pounds.
Greased line swing fans take note: the only action I’ve had has come when I’ve been stripping the fly in at the end of the drift. Small bass will chase. Large bass won’t.
My smallmouth season doesn’t typically start until sometime in May. Not this year. Yesterday I went to explore a tributary of the Connecticut River, two marks I’d fished once, and one new one. Even though the water is fairly low, there was substantially more of it than the one time I fished it last June. The first mark gave me little current and stained water; no bites. The second held a few ginormous carp swimming around in lazy circles. Still a light stain, but more current. Easily some 20-pounders in the mix. It was at this mark that I hooked my first smallie of the year, about 13″. The last spot was not only a trying-to-catch expedition, but also to see if any fish had come up to prepare for the spawn. I know, a little early, but nature is always right on time. I didn’t see any signs of beds; I saw one smaller fish, and hooked another. I felt like that was a good way to spend two hours.
I hope you’re enjoying the weather. Me, it’s a yard work weekend. So I’ll be out, but not really enjoying it…