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Fishing's Unpredictability
By Rich Johnson

The unpredictability of spring is a major factor in the amount of time one spends on the water. Let’s face it, March can be vicious one day and 60 degrees the next, or can chill you to the bone and have you in shirtsleeves by afternoon. The constant changing weather patterns associated with the northeast this time of the year, combined with changing moods and comfort levels of fish, can make a very disappointing combination and does not spell success too often when occurring simultaneously. Whether you’re fishing freshwater or the “brine” that surrounds the tri-state area, you need to have an alternate plan. If the weather throws you a curve, you need to be ready. Let me tell you a story of what happened to me last year in filming my television show and how the combined forces of weather and fish conspired to my possible demise.

You may wonder what goes into filming a fishing television show. The biggest concern of course is will the fish bite. Next is weather and more importantly the weather forecast, because decisions on where to go and what to fish for depend on advance preparation. Anglers who read this column monthly also have to rely on the forecast so we have much in common. Many of you plan and take vacation days based on a particular fish or season and you certainly don’t want to waste a day to weather…you might as well go to work. However, if you have an alternate plan, you can still get a good day on the water…somewhere.

I originally wanted to take the film crew surf fishing along the South Shore of Long Island, but high winds at 25 knots the previous day with the same predicted for the following, I knew the surf line would be unfishable. I had to come up with Plan B and that was calling Capt. Steve Jagoda of Molly Roze charters. The Molly Roze is based in Mamaroneck of lower Westchester County on the border of Connecticut. We would be fishing with television crew in tow, inside the North Shore harbors putting us in the lee of the wind and on calm water.

One of the things about alternate plans is that no stone should go unturned and that’s just what we did as we executed our alternate plan and it turned out to be a good one at that. We fished four hours inside Mamaroneck Harbor with light tackle and found awesome fishing, the kind you read about! We caught stripers to 26 inches and blues to 5 pounds all on popping plugs and rubber shad bodies in water only a few feet in depth. Let me unfold the story for you.

We made our way gracefully through Mamaroneck Harbor, sun warming a placid surface giving way to the telltale sign of an eventually warming day, mist rising across the surface. Capt. Jagoda explained, "Many anglers pass over fish every time they head out to sea and many of them don’t even turn the fish finders on until the last channel marker! I always keep in mind just how good this fishing can be. We’ve all seen if before, kids or senior citizens fishing the local marina slips and docks always seem have a bucket of fish or a keeper bass when you return from your fishing trip, don’t they? Why should you be any different?"

We started out poking around all the boat slips, rocks and boulders of this western Long Island Sound harbor using my usual light tackle baitcasting outfit. This consists of my Fenwick Inshore rod model 708M, paired with an Abu-Garcia Ambassadeur 5600C3 baitcasting reel spooled with 20-pound test Fireline. I caught a couple of small bass on Fish Trap shad baits, and a small bluefish or two, but things were off to a slow start. I noticed some birds working in the far corner and we slowly made our way into this back bay crevice. As we set up, birds were hovering over us and bait was being crashed from all angles along the shoreline of Mamaroneck Harbor.

I put on a popper and proceeded to "pop" all around the boat and the edge of the bait school with great success. On my first cast I was rewarded with a bass of 24 inches. Each successive cast resulted in an explosive surface strike and most of the time a hookup. If one fish missed the plug another would make an attempt and if that missed another and so on. This was truly, some of the best fishing and fun I’ve ever had on a trip and made for an excellent and exciting show that week as well. 

Fishing success comes down to being prepared! If that means changing plans at the last minute to save a trip, then that’s what you must do. When panning fishing excursions, anglers should have an alternate plan ready depending on the weather forecast. It’s what the pro’s do and it saved a fishing trip for me and it will do the same for you in 1999. See you on the water!

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