OTW Magazine – April Planner – Eastern LIS
April is the month many of us have been waiting for, and (if weather patterns cooperate) can be one of the most wonderful months of the year!
Thru the first half of winter, we definitely haven’t seen the typical snow accumulations as a normal winter. Ponds and lakes haven’t had sustained ice either, which means we could be in for one heck of an interesting spring. Largemouth Bass, Pike, Striped Bass, along with various species of baitfish plan their Spring activities around water temperature and flooded waters from the ice melt.
If the second half of March and early April bring very cold weather, it could make for a late start to the Spring migrations and spawning. If the milder-than-usual weather continues, everything could be kicking into gear a little earlier than “normal”. Either way, April is a great time of year to dust off your gear, check your rods and reels for proper performance, and get everything ready to go for the season.
My biggest piece of guidance this April, is to get your gear prepped early! Trout season is right around the corner, Pike and Largemouth should be active and plentiful, and the saltwater fishing is very close behind.
As you get your rods ready for the season, run a Q-tip or cotton ball around the inside of the line guides to check for burrs and cracks. As you check your reels, I replace any line if I can’t distinctly remember the last time I spooled it. If readers remember, I recommended getting a head start on maintenance and repairs back in the fall. If you were on top of everything a few months ago, you should be good and ready by the time you get this April issue!
It is also worth mentioning that line, especially leader material like monofilament and fluorocarbon, breakdown and degrade over time – especially if spools are left in a hot car repeatedly during the warmer months. If that spool of leader material is getting a little old, you might just want to replace it now. Few things can sting more than losing a solid fish early in the season because your line or gear wasn’t up for the challenge.
All that maintenance and gear advice aside, as the water warms and weather gets us all itching – it’s time to hit the water. Largemouth bass and smallmouth bass should be a little more active this month, although probably a bit sluggish to jump on a lure. A jig or soft plastic slowly fished on the bottom have worked well for me in April each of the past few years. If faster action is what you’ve got in mind, yellow perch, white perch, and calicos should all be active and feeding this month – in lakes, ponds, and the river coves.
If bigger fish are your goal, April is an excellent time to hit the water for pike. Big brightly colored soft plastics and jerkbaits, big swimbaits, and live bait are all tried and true tactics. River edges near drop-offs and channel edges are great places to start, but as the pike move to and from their spawning grounds they can be found in some unusual places as well. Look for entry points to flooded marshes and weed beds and work the area heavily.
The past couple years I’ve also been able to find Bowfin active during the second-half of April. Although most guys don’t specifically target them, a Bowfin can be a great accidental catch when fishing for bass, calicos, or pike. They hit hard and fight hard, just keep your fingers away from their jaws if you catch one.
CT DEEP announced that they do not expect any changes to the Spring Blackfish season, and I had a handful of guys get some nice keepers last year. The big changes to Marine regulations are of course those surrounding the Striped Bass and Bluefish sizes and creel limits. (At the time I’m submitting this column, I am not sure all states have finalized their regs, please double check your area before hitting the water for spring stripers)
The early spring migrations of herring should bring with them the first push of the striper migration. With a little luck we’ll start hearing some reports (or making our own) thru the middle or later part of April. Tidal rivers, coves, and bays are all great spots to search for early spring striped bass. In this early spring window – more than any other time of the year – I’m likely to hop from spot to spot in search of any signs of life. Especially when searching for this first push of fish, I wouldn’t bother “waiting it out” at a spot the way I would during summer or fall.
At the very least, even if the spring weather completely ruins all your other plans, we can all fall back on trout. Most stocked trout waters have been closed to fishing since the end of February, and will reopen with Trout Opening Day the second Saturday of April. Many Trout Management Waters are open to catch and release fishing thru the closed season, but check your local regulations to be sure.
The DEEP has been stocking excellent numbers and sizes of trout the past few seasons. With a light action spinning rod or fly fishing outfit, there are some worthy adversaries swimming around for our enjoyment. So get those waders out of hiding, make sure you’re wearing your warm socks, and go wet a line. Enjoy all that early Spring has to offer, and breathe that sigh of relief because the season is upon us!