Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheelhouse
Winter is a good time to invest in a chart and become familiar with Jamaica Bay, from a nautical/fishing perspective. This column will touch on some of the favorite spots I fish which generally are haunts that striped bass will visit in the early spring.
The bay itself has some unique characteristics that make it appealing to early season bass. Often in mid to late March bass, decent sized ones at that, can be caught and released prior to opening day. Traveling east by car or boat the bay ends or begins at two distinct spots, one being Rockaway Turnpike, and the other Woodmere Bay.
Now I’ll discuss Woodmere Bay, and if you’re traveling by land a spot frequented by anglers is Doxies Pond. It is north of Woodmere Park and is easily accessible. The marshes are fairly close together and can be fished on both the east and west side. The favorite bait would be the herring that ball up along the banks and more often than not a flooding and slightly ebbing tide produces best.
Most veterans favor the night tides but bass are caught both day and night. Live lining herring with either a float or naked (without a sinker just a hook) seems to be the most productive method, although chunk bait can work too.
If you study the shoreline you will note specific points jutting out from the marsh banks. Here and around the turns, baitfish tend to ball up and are often chased by fish. It isn’t unusual to see dolphin way back here feeding also. Patience is a must, for more often than not the fish are somewhat lethargic due to the water temperatures and the day/light period this time of year.
I was first turned on to the spot back in the early seventies by Ronnie Hedecheck, who just happens to be Captain Ken of the charter boat My Joyce’s father. I was lucky because Mr. H was not only a knowledgeable crackerjack fishermen, he was I think somewhat of a pioneer fishing Rockaway’s surf. He and Kenny were my mentors in the surf world. They were sharpies before the word was invented. He was a purist and only tossed lures at his quarry and he was very successful.
In the back he favored small 1/4 -1/2 ounce yellow upperman bucktails and a light seven to nine foot rod. Mr. H was a devoted fisherman and it must be in the genes because Kenny is still carrying on the tradition. It was a time I remember well. So if you get the opportunity check out Doxies, I know I will and smile when my rod bends thinking of Kenny’s dad.