Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheel House
They're back. Every year for as long as I have been around, some things remain constant. Moments and events become encapsulated in our minds, and as we mature we call this wisdom. For some reason, and I can't confesses to why, every year on or just about Good Friday, bunker schools appear in our bay. Our bay being Jamaica Bay, the body of water that we fishermen embellish and come to regard more as a friend than a waterway.
Those who have come to know this bay live vicariously through it season after season. The bunker schools have moved in. A telltale slap here and there give evidence to their arrival. The drama above masks the story unfolding beneath the surface. Fish are moving in, daily their numbers swell.
The bay reflects our times; having endured all the growing pains that a senior eco-system will. In our youth, times were good. Fish populations abundant and as anglers we fished carefree. Cycles of fish up and down follow us and run parallel to our own lives. A mirror of sorts. Jamaica Bay's survival is a testament to the very vitality of its greatness.
The bay is a constant in an evolving world. Naturalists can appreciate the returning shorebirds, as do philosophers who think deep thoughts. Spartina grasses begin to darn their Easter apparel. March 25 and my PJM Rhododendrons are in bloom. Go figure, I think a few more days and the fishing scene begins to unravel.
The bay humbles me. We move ahead, with careers, lifestyles and developments. The bay, stoic at times, raging and turbulent at others, bears witness to what we have become.
It has taken all we have given, and in its own way administers a sense of balance.
Reminiscent of Silberstein's "The Giving Tree" often I'll see a man or woman looking out onto the water. Alone, often bridled with shopping carts, their thoughts one could only imagine. Maybe the striped umbrellas and bright red Coca Cola coolers sprinkled amongst beach blankets, adorning
the Roxbury shore, appear. We were all there at one time or another. That's the beauty of Rockaway, it never leaves you.
Back to the nitty gritty! Flounder season opens April 1. Briefly, let's take a spin through the bay. Early flounder fishing relies upon having the right conditions. The flounder seem to invade the shallows and back bay mud flats that warm up before the deeper areas of the bay. Makes sense with the darker mud bottom attracting more sunlight. I like the banks heading toward Inwood as a first place to fish.
The bottom is loaded with clams and mussels, usually producing flounder early in the season. The south side has some reliable spots. Those being: Silver Hole, the flats off 59 Street and the lumps between the bridges Gil Hodges and South Channel. Those boats coming out of Sheepshead and Gerritsen Creek will often stop short before heading up into the Back Bay.
The Plumb Beach flats, as well as the bars and lumps to the east that would be Ruffle, Yankee and Nova Scotia bars. Those areas were pretty hot last year so I wouldn't overlook them. Anglers from the north side tend to favor the trestle bridge outside Speed Creek and the flats alongside the barges by the old dump.
The good thing about our bay is that regardless of the winds you can usually find some place to lay in its lee and fish comfortably.
Coming up Wood Hull Creek in sight of Smittys boat station one would be smart to check the bottom right by the "sticks" day markers that run north and south. In the past, oh in the early seventies, that was the joint.
Couple of closing notes: Little Neck Bay had some schoolie bass during the week, as did some of the beaches in Rockaway. Remember, it's catch and release till April 15.
Until the next tide..........