Editor’s Log: Wait ‘Til Opening Day? No Way! - The Fisherman

Editor’s Log: Wait ‘Til Opening Day? No Way!

When I was a kid, I used to eagerly await April vacation. To me, a kid growing up in central Mass, April vacay marked the beginning of the fishing season. We all have moments or habits that we look back on and wish that we could go back in time and knock some sense into our younger selves, and for me, this waiting game I used to impose upon myself, is one of them.

As I look around in 2024, there are definitely more anglers fishing earlier in the year than ever before. But there’s a stark contrast between the number of anglers out fishing after opening day, even in Massachusetts where there hasn’t been an official opening day for decades. I can’t figure out exactly where this comes from, but if I had to guess, I’d say it’s been passed down through generations.

For me, starting earlier came about because of striper fishing. After rediscovering my love for freshwater fishing, and knowing I wouldn’t spend much time doing it after the stripers arrived, I set my mind to learning to fish for them in the ‘offseason’ and it really paid off. Most of my freshwater fishing occurs between December 1 and May 1 each year, and all of that falls into the slot where, when I was a kid, I’d just watch fishing shows, read fishing magazines and stare at the lake behind my house trying to will the season to change.

The funny thing as I look back, that should have been a major clue, is that when I began my fishing season each April vacation, there were always fish to be caught. That should have been an indication that I had started too late. I suppose I was content to believe that I had timed perfectly… again. What I’ve discovered over the last 13 years is that I was actually missing some of the best fishing of the season, especially for trout and largemouth bass. March and the first half of April produce some insane bass bites as the fish begin to move back inshore and their metabolism starts to kick back into gear. Those six weeks represent some of the best fishing for big bass that a New England angler will find. Perhaps the only other time that comes close, in my personal experience, is late-September and October (but I’d still take March).

For those that prefer trout fishing, the fact that this self-imposed Opening Day exists for a large percentage of the anglers out there means that you can fish for these next couple weeks, before the second Saturday in April and, in many cases, you’ll find almost no one else fishing. I guess the point I’m trying to make is that you should take advantage of this time. Once spring has passed we have to wait another whole year for it come around again.

As I think back to the days of my youth and April vacation, an image comes flooding back. Ever enthusiastic, on the Monday of vacation, I made plans with my friend Jeremy to fish early the next morning. I arranged for my dad to leave early for work so he could drop me off at the local reservoir. When I arrived, Jeremy was nowhere to be found. Luckily, my grandfather lived nearby and I let myself in to use his phone. Jeremy’s mom answered, her voice cracking with the sound of trying to take advantage of not having to get her two kids ready for the bus. “Jeremy’s still asleep,” she half-whispered. Not even 10 minutes later, I saw his Mom’s dark blue Isuzu Trooper roll up and Jeremy hopped out, looking exhausted. I have no idea what we caught that day, but I do know that we fished all day long without a care in the world. And even just thinking about that kind of freedom feels great.


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