Maybe you have noticed that as of late I have been a tad cranky. I do believe my testosterone levels are just peachy keen, so what has changed that normal happy-go-lucky Collins to act like a cat being given a bath?
Winter is the culprit, pure and simple.
But as of this moment, a hint of a smile is starting to form on the right side of my mouth. It’s a sure sign that spring, or at least of a hint of spring, is near. Mother Nature might be messing with me by teasing like some bully on the playground, but if I were a betting man, I think spring is coming early this year.
Every day I look for signs. Azaleas are popping here and there and red buds are beginning to crown like a baby during the birthing process, so unless this is all a ploy by the big lady, I am sticking to my prediction and plan on going for it.
Never miss a local story.
I won’t go as far as saying I’ll start wearing shorts, because my skinny legs are almost a blinding white color. Plus, the cool weather has them so dry and cracked they look like the surface on a glacier. Even with gobs and gobs of baby oil, they are definitely not for public viewing. Usually the only time I bear them is while I am at least 60 miles offshore. So unless some North Korean spy satellite takes a gander, they are for my eyes only, except for possibly the poor souls that might be on board with me.
I won’t go as far as saying the fishing has busted loose, but one thing is certain: I am ready. For weeks I have spent countless hours rigging, changing the line on my reels and plotting my strategy for fishing trips yet to come. The problem for someone like me who might be considered ADD is there are just too many choices.
Inshore, the sheepshead bite seems be the talk of the town. I can’t remember a year when so many folks talked about sheepshead, even though they are notorious for being one of the only fish that you need to hook right before they bite the bait. I guess that’s why for me at least, they are a lot more fun to catch than redfish ever were. I know that admission borders on blasphemy, but fishing for sheepshead sharpens the mind. First of all, you need to practice ESP with a creature a fraction of your size. Also, one tiny slip of concentration might nix a chance of catching one in the 10- to 15-pound range.
But since I am committed to this early spring theory, sheepshead are but a third of my aims. The other two are wahoo fishing and American shad fishing. Starting with wahoo, I have rigged so many lures my fingers are numb from twisting wire leaders and being poked by the stainless steel ends of the wire. Remember the skit where comedian Steve Martin played a dentist and accidentally injected himself with Novocain? Then because his hands were numb he kept sticking other parts of his body with the needle? Well, that’s how my hands feel right now, but by God I am ready to go the first chance I get.
Then there are shad. As far as I know, I am one of the very few people around here who fish for them on a rod and reel.
This the time of year when they leave the ocean and trek up some local rivers to spawn in fresh water. Using ultralight tackle, shad don’t bite lures thinking it is food, but rather because the lures agitate them. A member of the tarpon family, shad are strong fighters and jumpers. And because they have wafer-thin mouths, you must finesse them to the boat. Some people eat them, but it’s the roe in the large females that I absolutely adore. Sauteéd in butter with bacon, it will make ya swalla yer tongue. I will say it’s an acquired taste, but my dad got me started on them as a kid, and almost like Pavlov’s dogs, I start drooling just thinking about shad roe.
I am by no means a Farmers’ Almanac, but come hell or high water I am ready to get back out on the water.
Even if my spring theory doesn’t pan out, I am going no matter what. If by chance you do see some skinny dude with awfully white pencil-thin legs sitting in a small boat intently staring at his rod tip, that’s probably me. If you get real close and see a crooked half smile, that’s definitely me.