Scouting a New Spot- First Fish of the Season

Fish during the month of April don't count.  Not for me anyways, not for where I fish.  They're like super duper extra bonus fish and every one is precious.  I don't start having expectations of catching in solid numbers until about May 5-10 depending on moons.  It's just a consequence of where I fish, and how I fish.  I'm not psyched about going out and catching holdovers and 10" local fish during the day.  Done it.  Not my thing.  If it's your thing, great!  Then you should be out right now.  But me, I like to be out at night casting metal lips and darters.

Anyways, the last few days of April I got out twice in three nights despite horrific poison ivy, and the meds they have me on for it (roid' rage anyone?), just to see if anything was happening and to start to get a feel for a new spot.  In the past, I did too much daylight fishing the spring with small lures- like I said, this isn't my thing.  This spring I was only going out in the evening and dark like I would any other time of year, and fishing with normal plugs.  No little garbage lures.  Yes, I'd use SP minnows, bombers, and bucktails, but I wasn't sizing down to micro baits.  What's the point?  I've caught 15" fish on SS darters and 3.5oz dannys plenty of times anyways.

I really was just out to scout and do a couple dry runs of a new spot I have secured parking for.  I had 0 expectations- really.  But, looks like it's paid off already.  More below.

Landed my first fish of 2017, a small schoolie at 21-22", on my 5th cast of the season in brand new spot, on what I still think is the "wrong" tide, at about 9pm (on a mag darter).  Fished all up and down the shore line after that for about an hour totally blind having not scouted the area for more than 10 minutes during a scouting blitz I did in February (I scouted 16 new or relatively new spots that day).  Fog made it impossible to see any structure.  I admit, I was sorta just out to do a dry run of this new spot, and had only a very loose plan.  It just felt. So. Fucking. Good.  To be out again.

No action further along the shore, so I returned to the corner I had caught that first fish at, figuring why fix what isn't broken.  I casted my sluggo hard into the pitch darkness, expecting nothing but trying to keep it honest on my way to a more distant stretch of shore I wanted to explore.  As it was just about back to me, in what I think is a small trough before the steep incline of the shore, I had a savage strike as a fish took the rubbery bait and tried to run back into deeper water with it.  I knew instantly it wasn't a dink.  That fish ended up being about 26".  Covered in sea lice.  Sweet!

I risked a picture even though I could see some people around- not sure if they were fishing or just enjoying the warm weather.

I was AMPED after that fish!  She was all fired up, and the sluggo hook was 90% down her gullet. Game on!

Note how deep the 11/0 hook is.

But, alas, that was it the rest of the night.  Admittedly, I only stayed in this spot for another 10 or so casts because I REALLY wanted to scout out some current I had noted in my initial scouting session, and I was missing my opportunity the more time I stood casting in this spot.  Juries still out if this stretch of shore will put big fish on the sand or not, but it's a solid early season migration location.  Reminds me of one of my other spots, but bigger, and even harder to access.  Hard as hell to access.

I went back again two days later (I couldn't go the next night- ugh!), and started out different stage of tide- low, and during waning daylight- so that I could scout more thoroughly.  I was shocked at what it looked like where I was fishing.  Tons of rocks I had no idea where there, and a significant shallow spot that must have trapped bait due to the prevailing wind, which explains why those couple of fish were there.  Cool!

I walked out into the water here, and started casting a bone SP as the last light faded.  On about my 10th cast, I botched the cast big time, and the plug splashed down relatively close.  I just started to burn it in, and a fish exploded on it!  He (or she) missed and then slammed it again as I stopped the plug dead, a little surprised again to find fish this early and in this location.  This was another 25-26" fish- hell it looks identical maybe it's the same one ha!

Nothing after that, besides a couple short hits, but I moved a lot and was more focused on finding information then fish.  I learned a lot.  I "fished" until about 9:30pm, and then called it quits.  I'd say 70% of my time I was spent moving and not casting.

I'll take 25"ers every day, all day long in April.  Especially at a new spot, with only 49-50 degree water still.

I'm feeling it this spring.  Much more so then last year.  2016 was awful for many reasons.  2017 is going to be good.

Gear Review: I am using my new Tsunami 9' 6" airwave elite rod with my VS150 and 20lb invisibraid, and let me tell you: it's a killer combo.  Super fun to catch fish like this with it, but it can easily cast a SS darter or 2oz metal lip.  Has no trouble casting 1/2oz bucktail or tin.  Incredibly light in the hand.  I'm a big fan of all tsunami products- this one is no disappointment.  Would be an excellent rod for most fisherman's use, especially if you're mostly throwing SP minnows, bombers, pencil poppers to 2.5oz, SS little neck poppers, SS needle fish, etc.