With the blackened piles of snow starting to retreat like tarred glaciers, I slipped on the waders, pieced together the 10’ rod, and headed down the path with the warming early March sun at my back.  My eyes keyed on birds, on the slightest odd shimmer and off-direction ripple, on structures laid down and torn up and redirected by a succession of storms that seemed as regular as the commuter flights they grounded.  Hang a sinker on a snap; bait the high hook with a worm and the low hook with clam.  Haul back with the line in the top crux of my finger and heave it out there with all the hope, with all the promise, with all the weighted anticipation that this time of year seems to harbor.

The Spring Run is about to begin.

Or at least that is what this eternal optimist wants to believe.  What fisherman isn’t the most persistent optimist?  I didn’t let the fact that the bait store had no bait or the fact that I only had two hours on the wrong side of the tide to fish…I was getting out for the first time since early December.  I simply had to go.

Now, for two hours worth of fishing, I will admit to having two real signs of encouragement.  One was a definite hit on clam—wait; didn’t I say the bait store had no bait? —I did, but I would not allow that to stop me…Bait and tackles aren’t the only place to get clams are they?  Oh, no for a paltry $4, I was able to pick up an adequate number of clams from the supermarket fish department and salvage what could have been a lost day.  So, I did have a decided hit on a hi-lo clam rig that was long and steady enough to get my heart racing like a double Red Bull with an espresso chaser.  The other bolster to my optimism came when something, I suspect a herring, made a run at my Sabiki rig…decidedly a fish and decidedly hungry.

So with that:

Spring has sprung
The grass has riz
I wonder where the fishies iz

Now, back to the reporting:

Water temperatures at the mouth of Raritan Bay continue to climb into the feeding range with sustained readings above 42 degrees for several hours today and yesterday.   If the wind remains light, even with the rain coming in, we should see 45 to 50 degree bay temperatures by Monday.  That would put the bite on big time.

Word from the kayak krew on the Other Side (aka Jersey) is that while it was great to get out, the bite was still to develop.  All parties involved were simply relieved to get out and shake off the dust.  There is a flotilla of plastic paddlers out on the hunt today and there maybe more encouragement on their return.

Now, that is not say that the fish aren’t out there.   The seals certainly think so; large pods of them have been sighted sunning themselves deep in the back of Raritan Bay.  They are not known to hang around where food is scarce, so although they’re the competition—if they’re in the neighborhood, things might be looking up.
There are a few reports of bass harassing herring and a few cautious and unconfirmed reports of bass from the beaches in SI pulled in on small plastics.  Most of the shops are shuttered or under-stocked, but if this weather keeps up…I think they’re going to have to get going soon.

And so, let the Spring begin!