Friday, April 1, 2011

The Watch is ON!

Sometime within the next three weeks the first migrating stripers will be caught. I have been keeping logs for the last 35 years, and those logs tell me the first arrivals should be caught around mid April, or about April 15, give or take a week depending on the weather. Last year I was catching them the first week of April (unusually early) but last year was exceptionally warm. This year I am looking at snow in my yard as I type this so it could be a late start.

Weather will play a key role in just when the first ones are caught. Warm weather with strong south and southwest winds favor an early start while cold weather with north and northwest winds often point to a later start. An extended warm spell of a few days seems to trigger things in mid April. Many fishermen also mistakenly believe that migrating stripers hug the shoreline when moving northward. I can't tell you how many fishermen will tell me that when the first fish are taken in Charlestown one day, they'll show up at Matunuck the next and be in the Bay in a week. If only it were that simple! In reality fish are migrating just offshore in various schools. Weather events such as strong onshore winds tend to push big numbers within a cast of shore. Bait can also move them in different directions. It can be random. I've often caught large numbers of migrating fish in the upper Bay a week before the first ones are taken forty miles southward at the oceanfront.

April has arrived and the watch is on. Expect the first schoolies to be landed within the next three weeks.