Anadromous (fish that live part of their life in the ocean and return to the rivers to spawn) and migratory species are like the changing seasons. Fishing for them is so much better because part of the year you can't–as in literally can't because they're not even there. Here at Postfly, that's striped bass, which returns around mid-May and leaves us later in the Fall, usually by October.
Instead of waiting quietly, twiddling your thumbs in the corner, for your favorite species to return, the time to start fishing for them is right now, a month before they even arrive. No, I'm not kidding, go out there and start fishing for them. Just don't tell anyone, or they'll think you're crazy.
Scout Your New Spots
Winter storms can drastically change a fishery's landscape from season to season.
With coastal fisheries like the ones here in New England, winter storms wreak havoc on sand beds, inlets, and beaches, which means that it's like entering an entirely different fishery year to year. That's why I always like to take a boat ride early in the season before I get distracted with actually fishing for striper, just to see what has changed over the off-season.
When you're out there, make sure you also have a GPS-equipped fish finder so you can record where you think fish are likely to be once they do show up. Look for new drop off points, channels, and edges; all different ambush spots that fish can sit in wait.
Check That You're Actually Ready
Gear, line, knots, boats, safety gear, flies; there's a lot to get in order before the start of a new season. Getting out on the water for a quick practice/warm up session is a great way to make sure that you're actually ready. I've lost track of the times at the very start of a season when I've gone out in search of fish and discovered that I forgot to add new line to my reel and just have backing, or that I never remembered to fix that guide on my rod, etc. The list goes on.
Just Enjoy It
Fishing for anadromous fish like steelhead, even before they're there can be therapeutic.
Even if you go out just for a quick casting session to shake out the cobwebs from your casting arm, getting out there for the first time in a few months is just going to feel good. Plus, you're likely to be the only one out there for a while, before the fish show up and the crowds follow closely afterwards. A boat ride with a buddy and no one else on the water, or a calm, quiet wading session is therapeutic, especially after a long winter. It makes me want to get out there right now.
There's one thing you can do to make sure you're always be ready to fish and that's have a fully stocked flybox at all times. Get the best flies and gear sent right to your door every month by signing up for Postfly here.