This year, it seemed like spring just wouldn't arrive. Every time nice weather seemed to be on the horizon, it snowed again. Even my snow blower gave in to the heavy toil and died. Everyone was tired of winter.
Not only was spring late, but the stripers seemed to be, too. In early May, Long Island Sound water temps were still in the forties. Cool temps, wind and rain seemed to dominate the weather pattern. The flowers in our garden ran two weeks late.
Finally the bunker arrived, and with them the bass and the blues. It's been game time in the Mudhole.
|Bunker school at dawn|
This year the bunker arrived thick. Whether or not you chose to believe or accept it as hyperbole, the tackle shops are buzzing with comments about "the best year in the past ten years for bunker." Or fifteen years. Or five. At any rate, there are a good number of adult bunker that moved moved into the local harbors and estuaries by the middle of the month. So far, they've stuck around, which means the fishing has been good.
|Typical fish this year have been 20 to 30 pounds|
When big bass are your target, and the big bass are on bunker, you have to fish bunker. Although I would prefer to fling big bunker flies into schools of fish boiling on the surface, that doesn't seem to be common this year in the Mudhole. The fish tend to be deeper. This part of the spring run seems more of a bait game to me.
Sleep patterns suffer this time of year. Collecting bunker for bait is best done in the wee hours of the night. That means a 3am wake up and being on the boat by 3:30 at the very latest-- it's light before 4:30.
|An angler abroad: Tom returned to his former home for some saltwater fishing|
The most rewarding aspects of this type of fishing, this time of year, is the accessibility of big fish. Experienced or not, a fisherman with the right bait, at the right time, and in the right place can hook big fish.
|Steve's first striper-- spoiled for life by a 22-pounder|
It's a great way to spend time with friends. It's nice just to be on the water after the long winter, and most other boaters have just started thinking about getting themselves ready for the season. At 4am you're the only soul stirring on Long Island Sound.
So, here's to game time in the Mudhole. To fishing with friends. To another year on the water.
|Bill "Saltshades" assesses the girth of a bass|
|Allie's first bluefish of the year|