OPENING DAY: Spring Stripers Arrive in New York

The double-edged sword of April 15.

TEASERS ARE PLEASERS: Fish rose on Easter Sunday to Billy Black’s white flies.

APRIL 15, 2020: This used to be a double-edged calendar date.  It always reminded me of how my good friend Deb L. used to tease her dog Wooty.  Wooty loved taking rides in Deb’s car.  Wooty absolutely hated being washed in the bathtub.  For fun, Deb would say to Wooty: “ Wanna go for a ride….in the bathtub?”

Wooty howled and pranced in clrcles, as flummoxed as a dog could get.

As the traditional IRS tax deadline, as well as the opening date of New York’s marine waters striped bass season, April 15 has sent many a local angler into similar convulsions.  But not this year.  The tax deadline has been pushed well into the future.  And small but hungry bass have arrived in Long Island waters. Grasping desperately for any good news, I hearby declare today is a good April 15.

Last week, a handful of socially distanced surfcasters (they were born that way) waited out high winds and muddy, choppy surf for a crack at the fish which have been making their way up the Atlantic coastline. In a brief window of decent weather on Easter Sunday, just before the Northeast got whacked hard by a Category 1 tropical blow gusting to 75 mph, a pair of the faithful got well.  

FAMILY FISH: Avery (left) reeled in a bunch of bass before the family LeeBob quit for lunch.

Broadway bass man LeeBob had a particularly good day: 9 fish in two sessions. On a south facing ocean beach somewhere west of Montauk, he scored 3 fish in less than an hour at the top of the early tide. Using a 1-ounce buck tail with white otter tail, he had several more morning hits but no hook ups.  His daughter Avery reeled them all in before they quit for lunch at noon.

“Winds were still pretty calm then, SE at only 10mph; 1 to 2 feet of surf, not much white water,  fish in the lip,”  said the man who traded his musical axe for a 10-foot surf stick until the lights come back on Broadway. Later that afternoon, on the outgoing, under blue skies and high wispy cirrus clouds, LeeBob nailed another half dozen hungry juvies.  

AFTERNOON DELIGHT: More hungry juvies before the afternoon turned snotty.

Bucktailin’ Billy Black got a much earlier start, fishing in a light choppy wind starting at daybreak.  The tide was low and so were the air temps, around 32 degrees. But the fish bit hard.  He scored two fish east of Montauk village on teasers; a 17-inch shortie took his white fly trailing a 3/4 ounce buck tail lure.  Then a 24-incher took the fly when he threw a 1 ounce Hogy Paddle Tail soft bait.

As the sun rose, Billy moved west of Montauk and scored a 24-inch fattie with a Mag Darter. “Really hit hard,” he said economically.   Later Sunday afternoon, Billy nailed two more around 22 inches on a 1 ounce buck tail. “The weather got real snotty.” Moving to the north side beaches that evening didn’t produce a bump.

So what of today, the official opener, when every New York angler has a chance to be a legal beagle should a 28-inch keeper fall for his offering? Not to be denied on such an auspicious occasion, LeeBob worked hard, yet for naught. “Been fishing all day but still waiting on my opening day fish. The blow really screwed everything up,” he said as the light faded.

“I fished this AM, reported Verizon Charlie from Up Island. “Zip.”

And you wonder why I don’t wet a line until fall. April 15 is a good day to get my taxes done.

SOCIALLY DISTANCED SURFCASTER: “I got zip,” reported Verizon Charlie.

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