Connecticut is just emerging from winter’s freeze and the fish are hungry. Grady Allen at Upcountry Sportfishing (www.farmingtonriver.com) reported that the high water on the Farmington River is starting to recede from last weekend’s deluge and resulting snow melt further north. Even though trout season doesn’t open until late April, the catch-and-release action for browns and rainbows is fantastic. “No one takes the fish home so they are plentiful,” Allen says. Flyfishermen are fooling these trout with small nymphs and wooly-buggers while spincasters are having luck with yellow coach dog Roostertails. By the end of March, he expects the dry fly action to heat up. “When the water drops, anglers will switch to dry flies,” he explained, recommending bluewing olives or quill Gordons to produce the best.
In southern Delaware, anglers are emerging from their houses and fish are emerging from the ice. Carol Taylor at Taylored Tackle (302-629-9017) in Seaford says they’ve already seen some big fish brought into the shop. They checked in a 4-pound, 9-ounce pickerel caught by Brian Salisbury and a 5-pound, 4-ounce largemouth landed by James Hitches. Both fish were caught in Broad Creek off the Nanticoke River on a live shiner. The same area and the same bait have also produced some fat crappies. She added that the herring have arrived to Laurel Dam. “When the herring come the striped bass follow,” she said. Anglers will target these bass with bloodworms on a bottom-rig. “The smaller males come first,” she said, “then the bigger females follow.”
High water on the White River has forced Brian Harris of (www.whiteriverguides.com) to fish out of his boat. Even though he usually catches more big fish out of his boat, he loves to walk the river with his fly rod. “We can’t wait to start wading,” he said. With the water high, Brian suggests that anglers targeting rainbow and brown trout use egg patterns and San Juan worm flies. “Use a No. 7 split shot and a longer tippet to get your fly down to the fish,” he says. Once the water level drops, he expects the caddis flies to start hatching. “Should be within the next month,” he says, but he’s hoping that he won’t have to wait that long. Once he pulls on his waders, he’ll look for the fish at Rim Shoals, Cotter, and Wild Cat Shoals. “The best numbers of bigger fish come when the water is high,” he says, “but the fly guys love wading around when the water drops.”
“Fishing is just starting to pick up,” reports Captain Jack Hoskins at (www.maddjackstriperguide.com) in Arkansas. The ice had only just cleared from Lake Wilson and Jack is already into the striped bass. “Most fish are between 4 and 6 pounds,” he says, “but we’re picking up some 15-pounders here and there.” Jack says that catching stripers is easy when you’re slow trolling live shad behind a planer board. Catching live shad, on the other hand, is hard. “Some days I’ll travel up to 300 miles to catch bait,” Jack says. He says that it is tough to find bait early in the season, but as the shad recover from winter it will be easier to find them. Once he has his victims on board, Jack looks for discolored water to find the striped bass. “The cloudy water heats up faster,” he explains, adding that he also likes to fish on the windward side of the lake. To rig live shad, Jack ties up a Carolina rig with 1/8- to 1-ounce egg sinker and a 1/0 to 4/0 wide-bend Eagle Claw hook. “For some reason, early in the year they want the bait trolled fast,” he noted, so he trolls with his outboard instead of his trolling motor.
If last weekend’s Western Outdoor News tournament is any indicator, bass fishing is heating up on the lakes around San Diego. John Cassidy at Angler’s Arsenal (www.anglersarsenal.com) told us that the winning five-fish stringer went almost 24.65 pounds and the top fish weighed 7.72 pounds. The stringer belonged to Jonathan Wdowiak and Rich Serra while the big bass was fooled by Randy Field. “On most of the San Diego lakes, the largemouth are just staging to get up on the beds,” John said. He explained that higher water levels have anglers flipping the brush or pitching to weedlines. “It’s a good year for jigs,” John said. Anglers are catching big bass by flipping a 3/8-ounce, purple-and-brown jig into the brush surrounding the lakes. On the weeds, John suggests using a drop shot. “The hot color is morning dawn,” he says. “Overall looks like fishing for the next month should be outstanding,—the best time of the year.”