Editor’s Log: And So It Begins… - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: And So It Begins…

On Sunday evening I felt my phone buzz in my pocket; it was my buddy Nick telling me that a few stripers had shown at one of the early season spots we both frequent. A couple photos popped up after the text showing two husky school bass, probably in the mid-20 inch class, both fish had taken poppers. Naturally, this sent me into an involuntary reflex action where I googled the tides, then the wind, then the weather for the following day.

As darkness fell that night, I found myself tossing a few plugs into a Plano box; a Tsunami Popper, a 1-ounce Gibbs Pencil Popper, a Madd Mantis Pencil, a Yo-Zuri Top Knock Pencil, a Super Strike Popper, a Jumpin’ Minnow, an old Tattoo Sea Pup and some NLBN paddles. Then I un-racked my early season rig, a 9-foot ODM paired with a VR50, then tied on a new 30-pound test leader and ran my fingers down the line.

I don’t like to spend too much time fishing for these first schoolie stripers of the season; it’s more about confirmation and igniting the fire on a new striper season. It’s almost like I don’t want to seem like I’m trying too hard. So I keep it simple, pair of pliers in my pocket, Muck Boots and jeans instead of waders, my Plano box just tossed on the marsh.

When I arrived, there was another caster there, and after sizing each other up, we realized that we both knew Nick and were there for the same reason. Cast after cast, we came up empty; not unusual for early season fishing. A bald eagle flew over, two pairs of swans briefly interrupted our rhythm. After about an hour, the other caster hooked up, also on a popper, but the fish came unbuttoned just a few seconds later. Another hour or so passed without any sign of fish…I packed up and left.

The following day, I went back again. Alone this time, I worked the rip over and over with a variety of lures, no action at all. A stiff southwest breeze blew into my teeth, causing some casts to veer off in flight. I reached for the Yo-Zuri Top-Knock and – as soon as I imparted the first twitch – a small striper smashed the plug. The excitement ended almost as soon as it began, the fish rolled and freed itself. Another hour passed and then 30 minutes more…I packed up and left, but I knew I’d be back again the next day.

The next day was cloudy and windy, with a moon tide powering against the stiff south wind. Thinking back to the previous day, I decided that I should start with the one thing that worked the day before: the Yo-Zuri Top-Knock. I fired a low cast, trying to “missile” it through the wind. The plug landed, I twitched it left and then right and then, boom, a fish attacked it. This time the fish stayed hooked and 60 seconds later, when my thumb tightened around its sandpaper lip, my 2024 striped bass season began.

And as I watched it swim away, of course I thought about the season to come and what the days, weeks and months ahead might hold. But I also couldn’t help but wish that fish had come on the second cast instead of the first, because, of all the wild superstitions associated with fishing, the First Cast Curse, is one that seems to be very real. And it proved – once again – to be an irrefutable truth.

We’ll see what tomorrow brings…

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