Worm Hatch #4

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5/14/20 Worm Hatch #4
Today we had the second day of full sun plus 3 or 4 half-days prior to that. I arrived at my favorite salt pond at 4 p.m., with a picnic dinner. As I sat down on my rock in the shade, I wondered if history would repeat itself, as all the factors and most of the variables were in alignment, and sure enough it unfolded as it had on May 8th, 2017. As I said then: “About halfway through my cheeseburger, I saw a couple of worms.” The water temperature here was 61 degrees, the same as 2017. After eating, I waded over to the NW cove thinking that the water there might be warmer and more favorable and it turned out to be 63˚, and there were a few more worms here darting about. At first, I saw 3 worms, and all of a sudden, they vanished. Hey, what happened to my worms? Upon closer inspection, I saw minnows attacking what few worms there were, just ripping them apart and devouring them in a matter of seconds. I did not see any swirls yet, so I walked around the circumference of the pond to check things out and found nothing else happening. So I headed back to the NW cove and as I approached—started to see a few worms again, then a couple of big swirls. This looked like it would be a cool weather mini-hatch with just a few worms, so my fly should get noticed. I cast towards the swirls not expecting much, then saw a massive swirl where my fly was, followed by a heavy into backing series of tugs. “HOLY JESUS,” was my spontaneous reaction. I had lost big smart fish here before in this pond that had about 8 or so landlocked stripers, and so took my time handling what looked to be a fish in the mid 30-inch range. I took several hasty photos against my fly rod so I could measure it later, and quickly released this fat striper. Judging by the number of swirls, there seemed to be only 2 fish left in this pond, what a shame. Well, six gone, two more to go, when those 2 get killed or even just one, that may just mark the end of an era for this salt pond. A sign of the times, a bittersweet ending? The other fish that was swirling was too smart to take my fly, so I was quite happy to land that one fish and headed for home. Later I measured the fish in the photo against the rod and it appeared to be close to 36-inches.
If I can find another bigger hatch here, maybe I will be able to make another fish count, hoping that there will be more than just those two fish left in here.
Worm Hatch Inspector
 

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5/15/20 Worm Hatch #5

We got a bonus today with another day of blazing sun to heat up the water temperatures. Today I was looking for numbers, and so walked a woodland trail in to a backwater salt pond that had a shallow muddy cove. As I came down the hill, I could see stripers swirling in the distance through the trees. It was 4 o’clock and there was a major hatch already in progress. It must have started at 3 pm, so I will have to make a note of that for the future. The water temperature was 69˚. Stripers were boiling right close to shore, and you could watch them take worms near the surface. They were hitting short today, and spitting the hook out in a split second. Later I added another fly for a two fly rig to give myself an extra chance at catching more fish. It worked out well and I ended my outing with 15 fish, the last two came in together, one on each fly.

5/16/20 Worm hatches #6 & #7

We started out at yesterday’s location and the hatch began at 4:15. I found a spot in a cove and caught a number of fish there, Gary found another spot behind an island, so we were trying to call each other in, plus a lady in a kayak found another spot and tried to send me over there. Worms here, there, and everywhere. I eventually joined Gary at his spot, where he had landed 8 fish on spinning gear, and I ended up with 12.

At 6pm, Gary wanted to leave, so I went along and took the opportunity to do an inspection on the landlocks at the worm hatch #4 location. That salt pond was also full of worms, and I counted 3 or 4 swirling stripers. These smart fish stayed well out of casting range, and I had seen this behavior a number of times before. I overheard a conversation from two other fishermen on the other side of the pond. “These sure are well educated fish.” “Yeah, you stand a better chance of getting hit by lightning that catching anything in here.” I agreed for today anyway. On my way out, I was able to see maybe 4-5 swirling fish, which is a good sign and a relief that there are still more than just two fish left over in this pond. I don’t need to count this location because I didn’t catch anything.” Next, I decided to head out and check a new location on the way home. If I hurried, I would have a half-hour or so of daylight left by the time I got there, a 20-minute drive from here.

I arrived at the next salt pond and changed from waders to knee boots, and hoofed it in high gear to find a water temperature of 67˚ near the mid-section of the pond, and so walked toward the backwater end to hopefully find a warmer water temp, some worms, and swirling fish. The pond narrowed down to a canal and there I found worms and active stripers. I was able to land 8 fish here before it got too dark to find a shortcut trail out of here back to the car. When I got home, my wife had shrimp in hollandaise sauce over pasta, garden asparagus and corn bread waiting for me, now she is a catch, a real keeper.

5/17/20 Worm Hatch #8

Today, I arrived a little late at 4:30 to a hatch already in progress. This spot has been a consistent and reliable location over the years, set up in a classic shallow muddy cove situation just off the main channel. There was a school of stripers moving slowly along with the incoming tide, and so I followed them along the user friendly salt marsh bank with just knee boots, casting along the way. Today, they were hitting quickly and spitting out the hook, so I was using a two fly rig with my two best flies, which helped me to catch and release 9 fish. I had 3 locations on my list, and decided to leave at 6:30 pm, to try my new location again to get to know it better. I arrived there at 7 pm, and changed into waders because the bank here was uneven in the backwater section, with mud traps in between the tussocks. Due to the SE onshore wind direction, the water temperature had dropped one degree from the day before, and the tide was really low still, so no action here. There was a flounder here, and the flounder was me, and yes I did fall into several mud traps trying to get a water temp. It was a good thing I had waders on, as one leg went down above my knee. Time to call it a day and head for home. This should be a better spot to try during the next tide cycle and closer to the entrance where the bank is more user friendly.



5/18/20 Worm hatch #9

Today was a cloudy but mild day, so I looked up in my records to see what to expect, and found a dozen other times over the years where the hatch continued. So I started off at my shallow muddy cove location again, arriving at 5 pm and found a water temp of 66˚. Nothing was happening yet, the tide was low and just starting to come in. At 6 pm, stripers started swirling on worms. There were fewer worms here today. So I used my two fly rig, and was able to catch 8 fish. Most of them hit the dropper fly, the sinker instead of the trailing floater. It is a fly that I don’t use much, but it is quick and easy to tie, and the bass seem to really go for it. I will post a pic of it. In the past, I have caught a couple of 36-inch fish using it. I left this location at 7:15 so I could check on progress at the next salt pond a couple miles down the road, and get some intel on that spot. There were worms everywhere at the next location and the water temperature was lower there at 63˚. It took a while to locate the fish, and there weren’t many. They were lazily cruising near the surface sipping worms occasionally, and were not at all interested in my flies, so I got skunked here. They must be chock full of worms by now. The tide will be low this evening, so if I go, the hatch will probably start an hour later around 7 pm.
 

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5/19/20 Worm Hatch #10

I punished myself today looking for number 10, driving around like a lunatic to six different locations, and walking my legs off at four of those. These were all mostly lee shore locations protected from the strong northeast wind. The high gear walking is good for me, huffing and puffing, sweating like a pig, at least there is a goal at the end if you can find something going on. Think it’s easy do ya? Well sometimes it is. I now feel in great shape, mentally and physically. I had my clipboard and schedule with me, so if I had checked it, I could have saved myself a lot of time and effort at the second spot traipsing around with heavy waders on instead of light knee boots. I went back to the landlocked pond, on which would have been the sixth day of the hatch, and did not find much of anything. Now I know from the past that this location never goes beyond 5-days. After the fifth spot hiking in and not finding anything, I had put a lot of effort in so far, so I might as well keep going until sunset, and the last spot usually starts late at 7:30. The water temperature had dropped from the previous day, and there were not many worms, but there were a few swirling stripers that were in a biting mood, so I was able to land 3 fish, and one was a nice 26-incher. It feels good to have number ten in the bag, as that is my usual goal, and there is still the next tide cycle coming up, and expectations of finding several more hatches.
 
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5/2/20, Worm Hatch #1 &2: Saturday, with only one day of sun there was a hatch at my shallow backwater bay location. This was the first time I have seen that, probably due to the mild winter. The previous 2 days were both cloudy. I took the water the water temp at 5:30, and it was 64˚, which is the usual starting temperature for this location. I then left to check another spot and found nothing happening there. When I got back to the bay at 6:30, there was a hatch in progress. So I put my waders on and headed out to a peninsula which was the only user friendly spot for back-casting from shore. There were plenty of worms, but not many fish at all, and most were smaller splashes made by herring chasing worms. Eventually I saw a good heavy swirl and cast towards it and was rewarded with a 26” striper. I had planned to take a photo of my first fish of the season but that didn’t turn out too well. The peninsula is used as a resting place for gulls, geese, swans, and cormorants, and they white-washed and greased it up pretty good. I slipped on the edge of the bank, and slid into the water while trying to land the fish. After unhooking the fish, I was reaching for my camera and the bass made one flip of his tail and he slid away on the greased up bank and made a swift escape into the water. Very well, he sure put up a good fight.

The next day I went back to the same location hoping that some more fish would show up. There were millions of worms, but no fish to be found, totally dead.

Worm Hatch Inspector

5/4/20, Worm Hatch #3: I went to my first location and found the water temp at 62˚, but with nothing happening there yet, I left to check on another early location. I pulled into an open area along the road where I had parked before and walked along the adjacent marsh to find worm hatches. As soon as I got out of the car the neighbors across the street started screaming at me about private property. As there was no signage of any kind, I continued on amid the venting from escapees from New York here early for the season. I decided to turn around and leave but took my time about it, which made them blow a fuse. Then I got in the car and found another tiny spot to park 200 feet further up the street. I did find a mini-hatch going on but with only about 4 swirling stripers and they were way across the channel up against the bank and out of reach, so I left to go to my final destination.

So the final chance and my third walk in to a National Wildlife Refuge where I would be unmolested by privacy lunatics. I get a kick out of the ones that don’t even own the property but insist on leaving their fenced in compound and leaving an uninformed note on my windshield every time I park at another location with no signage. More people from out of state that don’t know about the Massachusetts Chapter 91, Fishing, Fowling, and Navigation Law.

As I come down the hill along the woodland trail, I can see stripers in the cove swirling at the surface. As I approach the bank, I see a good sized fish just 3 feet from shore, and so I back away quietly so as not to spook it. My first cast with a worm fly rewards me with a 26” fish. After that I was able to catch and release 4 more smaller fish. The water temperature was 63˚ here, but I did not actually see any worms. This could have been a cool weather mini-hatch. By now the sun was setting, bathing the trees along the cove in golden light. Then I looked above the row of Condo’s in the distance to see a developing rainbow. I am not sure what the significance of that rainbow meant in relation to the condo’s. Perhaps it signified that the acreage I was standing on was saved in the nick of time, conserved for all time by the Wildlife Refuge. Looking across this sensitive salt pond, takes in an imposing view—now developed and private on 3 sides with rows of condos and luxury homes built and for city folks. Why did they have to do that? There is no restraint, people push everything to the limits, and so do I, but with a different set of values. Years ago, this area had only 2 summer camps on pristine waters, where a local guy could hunt and fish in peace. In the future, sure to become a polluted backwater replete with mung, and floating mats of macro algae. In this day and age, our public access locations are precious, and I am using them to the fullest before time, and my time runs out.
 
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5/27/20 Worm Hatch #11

Today, after a few sunny days to help start up the hatch again, I had scheduled a harbor location. I told my buddy Gary that it usually started at 6 pm at the south end of the harbor, and that I would meet him there at 5:30. He had not been there before, and so wanted to go and check it out earlier. So while I am dilly-dallying around, he calls me on his cell phone from his kayak and tells me that its 4 o’clock, and the worms are already swarming, so I better get down there. By the time I arrived at 5:30, he said that the worms had pretty much disappeared. So I took a water temperature and it was 65˚ at the south end of the harbor, near the entrance with its colder incoming tide. There were still a few worms and some swirling fish closer to shore, and I was able to catch and release two. Then it was time to move on to the north and hopefully find warmer water and more fish and worms. About a hundred yards further along the west shore I found several hot spots with worms close to the bank and stripers swirling. Then we went under the bridge, where I took another temperature check and found it four degrees warmer there at 69˚. There were fish spread out and lazily swirling here and there. I managed to have a decent outing with ten fish landed, and Gary using his spinning rod with a pink plastic worm caught five fish. This was the first day of the hatch at this location, so we plan to go back tomorrow for the second day, if the fog burns away and the sun does its work, we should have success.
 
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5/28/20 Worm Hatch #12

Well, today thankfully, we had a half-day of sun to keep the worm hatch going. My two spinning rod buddies Gary and Dave received their introduction into the frustration of worm hatches. The three of us launched our kayaks at 4pm, and found worms everywhere, but the stripers were not easy to catch today. They both were trolling, and casting pink plastic worms and coming up empty. After an hour, I had 5 fish landed on my two worm flies, using a two-fly rig. After that we paddled further up the harbor and found a hot spot where there were good numbers of swirling stripers. Still they were not able to hook up, so I gave Dave one of my worm flies and he finally caught one trolling it. Then he lost the fly on the next fish using only 8lb test line. Gary had some of my worm flies that I had given him three years ago, so he and Dave shared those and they were finally into some fish. I left at 7 pm, after having caught and released 14. They stayed out until 8pm and Dave ended up with 9 fish and Gary with 5, a successful and memorable evening of fishing the worm hatch. Now what in the world were those guys thinking in the first place, that a plastic worm mass produced in China, was going to out fish my custom made in America worm flies?
 
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5/30/20 Worm Hatch #13 & 14

The day before was cloudy with showers, so I figured that would shut down the hatch and so did not go out. Saturday had a mostly sunny day, but I wasn’t sure if one day was enough to start things up again? I did find 67-degree water, and what I would call a one-sunny-day mini-hatch in a lee shore cove that started about 6:30. There were not many fish or worms, but I was able to catch seven stripers there. At least I didn’t get skunked. Gary caught 12 fish trolling a worm fly. Sunday will be the second day of sun, so then I will be able to determine if it indeed was a one- day mini hatch, or the third day of the hatch and that was the end? We shall see and learn.

5/31/20, Sunday: Gary and I went back to the harbor hoping to find another hatch. The sun blazed all day, and the water temperature was up to 70˚ in the corner cove at the south end. I made sure to paddle over there at 6 pm, a consistent start time for that location, and to my surprise found stripers just beginning to swirl, for another mini-hatch, on what would be the third day of the hatch at this particular spot. The northeast wind had blown in some mung today, so I had to check my flies after each cast. The floating fly kept picking up mung, but the sinking fly stayed clean, and so I caught most of my 8 fish on that fly. The swirling lasted for 45 minutes, and then began to taper off. I kept trying to call in Gary on the VHF radio, but he seemed to be content trolling out in the middle of the channel, but only caught one herring and a scup. Perhaps he was trying to be a good buddy, and didn’t want to get in my way? I have one more location on my list for this coming week, but it looks to be a cloudy week.
 
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Well, I didn’t find anything at my last location on my list for early June, my guess is that it had already happened in late-May, when I was occupied at another spot. It hasn’t been a very consistently reliable location over the years, so I am going to eliminate it from my list for the future. Due to the somewhat limited access, parking, too many people around, the wading and bank fishing is not very user-friendly, and the area is just too large to cover in a kayak, so if it is not worthwhile, then it is time to move on. One month of pretty intense searching to find worms and fish, with the challenge of actually catching some during the month of May is enough, no need to prolong the victory and agony into June. So for the 14 hatches in May, I caught and released 104 stripers, including one beast of 36-inches. There were another 18 days that I didn’t find anything during May and June. I have narrowed down my locations to the five best ones, and one of those, in some years, has multiple hatches throughout the month of May, some of which I missed this year due to the vagaries of the sun being out of sync with the tide-cycles.
 

dharkin

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Well, I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I enjoyed reading the posts. Please let me know when you publish the locations and best times to fish them :)
 

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Well, I hope you enjoyed yourself as much as I enjoyed reading the posts. Please let me know when you publish the locations and best times to fish them
That was really just an attempt at humor but thank you for the response.
 
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Sorry I could not think of a humorous response, but at the time I was burned out from a month of worm hatches. Mostly, I have to take it seriously to be successful. I concoct a schedule based on all the facts and figures from previous seasons, which takes into account 3 different factors and as many as 9 or more variables, schemed and applied to 6 or more different locations for the 3 different tide cycles that happen over the course of the month of May. Its the mystery and challenge, and when you score, you find blitzing stripers.
 

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I'm already tired just thinking about all the work you put in. It must be nice when all that work pays off though. I'm hoping to go to the cape next week with a buddy of mine and thinking about giving Buttermilk Bay for a little wade fishing. That side of the cape has better tides next week than the bay side.

I really enjoyed your posts, thanks for sharing and hope you get some rest.
 
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