Ric Bourn at Anglers and Archers in Leominster, Massachusetts reports that the local lakes are full of rainbow trout and land-locked salmon. Folks fishing from shore are using ¼ to 5/8 ounce Kastmasters, Al’s Goldfish and Colorado spinners while boaters are having luck trolling small Joe’s Flies. Fort Pond has been producing trout for anglers trolling flies or working the shore with Powerbaits sweetened with a piece of mealworm. Ric said that perch and black bass in the pond are falling for shiners. A few salmon have been fooled by the old nightcrawler-under-a-bobber trick. Ric added that smallmouth bass are just starting to move off their beds. He recommends fishing area rivers with small baits or live shiners.
From the mountains of North Carolina, Nathan Mitchell of Curtis Wright Outfitters (www.curtiswrightoutfitters.com) reports that trout fishing has been fantastic. Anglers fishing the delayed harvest streams are required to release their trout so there are plenty of fish for everyone. Nathan says that the stocked streams in Smokey Mountain National Park are filled to the brim with fish while the wild stretches are holding good numbers of native browns, brookies and rainbows. “The stocked fish will take anything,” Nathan says. He’s had the best luck on stimulator patterns with a flashy dropper fly and a brightly colored nymph. On the upper reaches of the river, wild trout are rising to dry flies. Nathan has been matching the red quill and caddis hatches with Palmer patterns.
When Jeff White goes fishing, he leaves his rods and reels at home and takes his bow and arrows. Jeff is among a growing number of anglers who stalk their quarry at night with high-powered lights and razor sharp arrows. When we called, Jeff was returning from a tournament on Lake Guntersville in Alabama where a 78-pound carp took the big-fish money. Back at home in Panama City, Florida, Jeff has been hunting flounder and sheepshead. He’s been taking his clients to Fort St. Joe and the shell islands around Panama City and south of Big Bayou. While bowfishermen prefer a flooding tide, Jeff says that hook-and-line anglers are having luck fishing bull minnows on a falling tide. Last week, his party ended up with a seven flounder stringer that weighed over 21 pounds. Since bowhunters can see their targets, they only shoot the biggest fish. He added that snapper season has opened and Florida skippers are returning every day with limits of reds. Along the beach, surf fishermen are catching whiting on shrimp.
Tom Helgeson editor of Mid West Fly Fishing magazine (www.mwfly.com) says that trout season is open and anglers are off to the races. He’s been fishing the driftless areas of Southeast Minnesota for brown and brook trout. Following the Hendrickson and caddis hatches, he’s working #14 or 12 gold-ribbed hare’s ear nymphs or elk haired caddis and #18 Adams. “The fishing keeps getting better,” he says. Tom’s been wading the small rivers and creeks in Whitewater State Park just outside of Rochester. He expects the action to really heat up by early summer when the insects emerge. In May Tom will start fishing poppers for smallmouth bass on the Upper Mississippi and the St. Croix River. “Float down the rivers and cast to the banks and riffles,” he says.
The weather in Northern California has Larry Hemphill (www.thefishsniffer.com) and the largemouth bass confused. “The temperature has been up and down and up and down,” Larry says. “This is the longest spring I can remember.” He explains that the spawn has been on and off with the weather. Of course, Larry doesn’t use the conditions as an excuse, only a challenge. “We’ve had some good days,” he says. He’s been fishing Clear Lake, Lake Berryessa, Lake Shasta and Lake Oroville for crappies, bluegill, and largemouth bass. He suggests coordinating fishing trips to coincide with a warming trend in order to catch the fish as soon as they thaw out. He also recommends using Senkos and jigs. “The key is to work it slow,” Larry says. He adds that a lot of anglers are finding success with drop shots.