The long wait is over. Time to dust off the saltwater gear and get them ready because, yes it's true, the first stripe bass of the year have arrived.
Tens of thousands of fisherman from Rhode Island to Maine have been waiting impatiently for these linesiders to push north since their sad departure last fall. Now there are smiles again as fish are found back in our waters.
The first fish arrived in Rhode Island two weeks ago. Those first fish as always are shorts, running 8 to 18 inches long. Then a few keepers finally made the trip. The young ones are always faster than the old folks just not smarter, with a few topping 28 inches.
Then Massachusetts put out the welcome mat and the stripers are being welcomed back. All over south Cape such as Bass River, New Bedford, Dartmouth, Dennis, Buzzards Bay and a few, including one keeper of 28 inches, was taken in the canal.
Stripers, all shorts, are also showing up in the North River, Hull, Boston Harbor, Lynn and Rockport -- and rumors of a few have been caught along the beach front of the Merrimack River in Newburyport. The fish are a little early, which is expected, but something else is early too -- herring.
River herring and shad are already running up the rivers. The Merrimack River had the first shad of the year caught at the river mouth. These fish will be in good numbers and easy to reach at Rocks Village within two weeks.
A fair number will be there sooner but for the best bet, head there in two weeks and then to the Essex dam in Lawrence where the fish just stack up.
Herring numbers so far are looking very good, but they always look good in the Charles and Mystic rivers. For some reason this run just really has not been affected like the runs in the Merrimack or those in Maine or New Hampshire. Holdover stripers are now chasing the herring that have already made the trip all the way up to the dam in Winchester. The same is true for the herring in the Charles as they travel to Waltham.
Old friend Pete Santini says the winter flounder fishing is nothing short of great of Winthrop. Some of these black backs are over five pounds. Santini, who owns a bait shop in Everett, said he will be spending the weekend out there looking for migrating herring, stripers and filling his quota on flaties.
The Division of Fish and Wildlife had a busy week stocking brooks and a couple ponds.
Water levels in the brooks are getting to critical levels and may not get stocked so fish were flying out of the hatcheries as fast as they can get them into the water.
Here is a partial list of some of those stocked with brook trout; Stony Brook, Beaver Brook in Dracut, Souhegan River, Sucker Brook, Fort Pond Brook, Mosquito, Witch Brook, and Richardson Brook.
Also stocked are Bixby, Unkety, Duggin, Hog, Trap Falls, Salmon Brook, East Meadow, Boston Brook, Fish Brook, Pow Wow River, Lake Pearl and Ashland Reservoir.
A 3 D Archery Shoot will be held at the Townsend Rod and Gun Club on April 29, with registration starting at 8 a.m. There will be 15 targets. For more information, call David Lapointe at 978-597-1370. The club is located on Emery Road in Townsend.
Also at the club is the annual Spring Fishing Derby held on April 22, with registration starting at 7 a.m. The club will stock several hundred fish for the event and there will be a cash prize. The kitchen will be open for breakfast and lunch.
Bill Biswanger's email address is email@example.com