Yahoooo… It’s March and that means my boat goes back in the water before the month ends. I like having the boat in early. There are things that always need to be done before the fish show up. My wife Gina is always amazed at how much I love to organize my fishing gear. She wishes I would have the same excitement about organizing things in the house.
Hopefully, you cleaned all your gear when you put the boat away last year. Now is the time to start to re-rig everything. All of my offshore gear got new line. I started to keep a reel maintenance log. It’s a great way to keep track of when the line was changed or old pieces were swapped out with new ones. This is also the time to go through all of your offshore trolling gear. Run your fingers down from the top crimp to the bottom crimp. If you feel the slightest nick I suggest you re-rig that lure. You don’t want to lose a once in a lifetime fish due to something that could have been prevented. This is also the time to look over and possibly replace all of those hooks that might have rusted. That includes not only your offshore lures but inshore as well. Don’t forget, if you don’t plan on taking any fish home it’s best to crush those barbs. It’s better for the fish and yourself.
There aren’t many private boats that are left in the water through winter. So as far as fishing reports go there are very few. For the most part, the only game in town is bottom fishing. Some cod are being caught but nothing to get too excited over. If you really feel the itch there are plenty of party/head boats along the south shore that you can jump aboard.
Let’s talk about bathymetric charts. If you look at a Captain Seagull chart or your chart plotter that you have on board your boat, you can use these charts to help you locate fish. The term "bathymetry" originally referred to the ocean's depth relative to sea level, although it has come to mean “submarine topography,” or the depths and shapes of underwater terrain. Enough of the science lesson. What these maps contain are contour lines. The closer together the lines are, the more severe the drop off. Fluke, striped bass and weakfish are all ambush feeders. They will take up residence in these drop offs. Not only are these locations great ambush spots but they also allow the predators to “hide” from the current. In other words, these predators will expel a lot less energy not having to fight the current. These predators will position themselves facing into the tide. As the forage fish begin to wash over these drop-offs they will be attacked by predators waiting within the holes and ledges. So if you are new to the game of fishing or you are a seasoned veteran looking for new spots to target your favorite fish, make sure you spend some time studying these bathymetric charts.
As we get closer to opening day for striped bass it turns out we may actually be further away than we have been in the past. Unless something were to change striped bass season will not open until May 1st. Last year and years prior, opening day occurred on April 15th. This new opening date will have a much bigger impact on those fishermen that fish the western part of the South Shore. However, as far as I know, striped bass will remain the only fish that can be targeted as catch and release when out of season in New York State waters. Along with a delayed opening, it looks like New York fisherman will be able to retain one fish. That fish must be between 28 inches and 35 inches. All fish that do not fall within that “slot” must be released. The season is also slated to close December 1st. So, in total NY fishermen will lose 30 days of their striped bass season. It will be interesting to see what happens to many of the local fishing tournaments. These new regulations may usher in a new era of mostly catch and release tournaments.
Let’s turn our focus to another aspect of fishing that has become extremely popular in this digital age - pictures. Despite only being 47 years old, at times I feel like a dinosaur. I actually use a real camera to take most of my pictures and videos while I’m out on the water. I use an Olympus Tough Shot. It shoots in 4k and can be used underwater up to depths of 50 feet. Whichever device you choose to use to take pictures I would like to help you get those photos into magazines. Most magazines will pay for photos that appear in their publications. National magazines like Sport Fishing Magazine will pay better than most local publications like The Fisherman. Before you start you can contact the publications you hope to get your photos in and they will send you a check list of what they look for in their published photos. Like I mentioned earlier, it will vary from magazine to magazine. Any chance I get to make a few bucks to put towards my fishing addiction I’ll take. Here is what I have learned: First, any pictures of fish should be taken while you are still out on the water. Magazines don’t want to publish photos of lifeless cardboard looking fish. They love photos that are taken on nice clear sunny days. They love photos of fish being released. They love photos that show what lure or rod/reel the fish was caught on. They love fish that have their fins up when applicable. Once you start to submit your photos to various magazines you will quickly learn that each publication will have different “rules.” The second thing that I have learned is the blood factor. Very rarely will you ever see a fishing magazine, especially the national magazines, publish photos that contain blood. Even over at my own website (fishgaak.com), I try my best to only post bloodless photos. There are organizations that would love to put an end to fishing, posting pictures of tuna on the deck covered in blood makes fisherman look bad and gives these organizations more fuel for the fire. If you dream of being on the cover that picture should be taken vertically. One last bit of information, they will always request the original photo file. If you edit the photo they will not accept it. They want to make sure their art department can manipulate the photo.