Surf Fishing in Freshwater

When some tomfool late-April winds blew wideness the water, I wished I’d thrown a jacket over my light hooded sweatshirt. There was a small chop from the wind, but the water was otherwise calm. I wound up with my 7-foot rod and let the small minnow plug fly into the wind. It was my first after-dark fishing mission since the previous fall, and it felt good to be fishing nocturnally once again, plane if I was surf fishing in freshwater.

As I daydreamed well-nigh what the upcoming season might hold – maybe that long-awaited 50-pounder or a rush of trophy-size toned that lasted for hours – I was brought when to the present by a sharp rap on the rod tip. I set the vaccinate and the light-action rod folded into a big arc. The fish didn’t run, but let loose some good throne shakes and drew me into a couple stalemates surpassing relenting and permitting me to slide it onto the shore. When I flicked on my light, it wasn’t longitudinal stripes reflected when at me, but a mottled green, gold and woebegone body, a huge reflective eye and some jagged teeth. It was a walleye, and a fine one at that.

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Walleye use their bulbous eyes, gaping mouth and fang-like teeth to locate, inhale and clutch lanugo on prey in shallow water at night.

The past couple of Aprils, I’ve forgone the usual early-spring schoolie venery and taken my shorebound exploits elsewhere – namely the freshwaters of the Northeast. And truth be told, some of this fishing feels just similar unbearable to saltwater surfcasting to alimony my want sated until May brings up the stripers that can unquestionably pull drag.

Reservoir Trout

It’s not a stretch to compare launching ½- to 1-ounce Krocodile spoons as far as possible from the wall of a reservoir to fishing in the surf. In fact, many anglers unquestionably employ their lighter surf sticks to get the maximum loftiness with their metals.

A Luhr Jensen Krocodile spoon closely matches the size and whoopee of worldwide lake trout forage like alewives and smelt.

Usually a deepwater dweller, the unprepossessed spring waters yank lake trout into the shallows of Wachusett Reservoir in MA and Kensico Reservoir in NY to feed on small white perch, alewives and other forage fish. Lakers aren’t what I’d undeniability a very discerning fish, so lure selection is made based on what’s going to get a lot of sustentation and what’s going to tint the farthest. Getting your lure to the marrow is essential, and a slow retrieve with frequent pauses seems to get the most strikes. A lift-and-drop retrieve is flipside way to trigger strikes from this lake-dwelling char, as they expressly like snapping at free-falling lures.

This spoon-fed lake trout was sitting in 40 feet of water when it struck a Luhr Jensen Krocodile spoon. (Photo: Luke Mantini)

Reservoir brown trout are considerably increasingly tight-lipped when it comes to hitting lures, but are no less predatory than lakers when it comes to munching on the alewives population. Some monster browns lurk in reservoirs, as evidenced by the 18-pound Connecticut state record unprotected at Saugatuck Reservoir in June 2011 on a 2-ounce spoon tint long on a 9-foot, 6-inch surf rod.

Nighttime ‘Eyes

Several lakes and a couple rivers in the Northeast have fishable populations of walleye. In the spring, surpassing they spawn (or try to spawn in most cases) the fish will run the shoreline eating juvenile perch, alewives or whatever 2- to 4-inch baitfish are abundant. The big reflective vision midpoint that walleye are primarily nighttime hunters, and this, in conjunction with their shallow-water springtime feeding grounds, makes shore-casting a unconfined tideway to these fish.

Cast and retrieve downsized plugs like a floating original Rapala or Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnow, in the 3- to 5-inch range. Plane largest are small curly-tail grubs like the Mister Twister. For colors, squint no remoter than your striper plugs for inspiration – yellow or white is mortiferous on ol’ “marble eyes.”

Mister Twister 3-inch Curly Tail Grub
Original Floating Rapala

With all lures, a straight retrieve wrenched up with a couple quick snaps of the rod tip will work just fine.

Walleye have a reputation as stuff poor fighters, but on a light rod with light line, they are just as sporting as any stocked trout, and they are often a good deal larger. If that’s not unbearable to convince you to fish for them, perhaps their 5-star quality on the dinner plate will sway you into venturing out for walleye without visionless this April. Check your state’s freshwater memorandums for walleye waters and workable regulations.

Prespawn Smallies

By the time the smallmouth toned are transitioning into their sybaritic prespawn mode, the timetable is just well-nigh to flip over to May, but letting a couple keeper stripers sneak by is well worth experiencing the acrobatics of a ticked-off smallmouth.

The smallies, which spent the winter sulking in deep water, will move into shallow water and wade just well-nigh anything that comes near them with the voracity of a spring-run bluefish. They’re fattening up to pack on the weight lost over the lean winter, and to prepare for the spawn, and will be cruising over hands waded sandy flats.

Soft plastics like Ned rigs, tube jigs and paddletail swimbaits (shown, swallowed) excel at transmissible warlike pre-spawn smallies as they roam the flats.

Covering water is the key to success, as the toned will spread out and roam over wide areas in search of food. I like a 7- to 7½-foot rod for these smallies. Tube jigs, fished just like a bucktail jig for stripers, are tough to beat. White, root-beer and watermelon are all good colors.

Though nothing in freshwater will overly compare to the feeling of a big striper’s shoulder-dislocating headshakes, variety is, as they say, the spice of life. So surpassing putting on the blinders for a striper-only spring season, try out some of your surfcasting know-how on the shore-accessible sweetwater fisheries throughout the Northeast.

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