Cape Cod Fishing in April
Sunlight and the arrival of spring are codependent upon each other. Clear skies and unfiltered sunlight hastens the arrival of earth and water warming processes so vital to restart growth after the dormant period of winter. Observing the changes of this process, over time, we can get a better understanding of when conditions improve enough to effect fishing. For me, one of the first indicators of winter’s passing is the male cardinal perching himself up in the high tops of the trees, broadcasting his bright plumage and call for all to see and hear. Then the snowdrops push through and bloom into snowy piles of white, followed by early daffodils. These indicators are the more showy and cheer us humans that brighter days are ahead. Less noticeable, are the earthworms beginning their movements and their “castings” can be seen at the entrances to their burrows. If you have never gathered “nightcrawlers” for spring fishing bait as a youngster, you have not lived one of the first fun “hunts” of youth. On wet dewy nights, these large earthworms will stretch out of their holes in search of a mate. Leaving their tails in the burrow, they extend their bodies over twice their normal length and “couple” with another earthworm. the band or collar that is about one-third the way down from the head will couple or latch onto the same place on the other worm and mating begins. As you carefully tip toe along the wet grassy areas looking for stretched out worms, you hold a flashlight with its beam muted by some cellophane or just by holding a few fingers across its lens. Once you spot the stretched out glistening worm, you must determine where the tail lies, and quietly approach close enough, so you can pounce and hold the tail. Don’t pull yet ! Just hold the worm with steady pressure until you feel him slightly let go, then slowly slip him out of the hole and into your bucket. A couple dozen of these fat boys and you are ready to spend the day at your favorite trout pond. After the worm castings appear, the peepers start their mating calls in the vernal pools, bogs and small ponds on the Cape. It is quite awe inspiring to stand quietly at the edge of a small bog and listen to the amazingly deafening chorus they make. With the emergence of these little frogs, also come the salt water eels out of the mud. I don’t have to tell you what great striped bass bait eels are. Before I ran a charter boat, I used to pot eels commercially and sell to Cape Cod bait shops from Orleans to P town. In late fall the real large eels went to the Boston North End Italian consumers, who considered them a delicacy.
As all of these more visual changes are taking place, there are also major changes taking place in the lower food chains of algae, plankton, diatoms and larvae are reproducing at incredible rates and are fed upon by larger forms, like clam and oyster larvae, and successively larger forms, like crabs, seaworms, and minnows etc. This increasing food supply brings the larger predatory species like the fish we humans target. The pogies, the herring, mackeral, eels, squid, alewives, sand eels, soon come followed by the blues, bass, scup, fluke, cods and tuna, followed by the seals and the sharks and lastly by man.
I realize that this is all basic biology, but as each spring comes and this growth is annually renewed, try to pay attention and notice when the peepers start for example, when the forsythias bloomed, or the date you first noticed worm castings in your lawn. We as a specie, have become a more hurried, and less observant animal, in my opinion. Try to breathe deeply and notice the changes in the physical world around you. Try to notice when you first observed the new buds in the dormant tree next to your car that you climb into every morning on your way to work. As you hone these observances and details you will become at least a better fisherman, and just maybe a better partner, spouse or friend at the same time.
Good Fishing to You,
Capt Bruce & “Marilyn S”