The trouble with April is too much good fishing. The angling doesn't build up in a slow cresendo of increasing opoortunities. Instead the month seems to spring on us, with all types of fishing shifting into high gear at once. Every fishing hole is suddenly hot - or so it seems to anglers eager to be out on the water after a long, fishless winter.
There are two possible responses: You can load all of your rods into the car - from heavy muskie sticks into light fly wands - carry around all your tackle boxes and fly vests, plus a bucketful of minnows and carton of worms, stealing any stray minute to detour to whatever fishing spot lies within the swath being cut by your auto at the moment. Chances are this approach will yield planty of skunkings and lots of wasted gas.
Or you can be more leve-headed.
The first step is to buy a calender with lots of white space on it. Then jot down in particular dates or general time spans when a specific trip should be taken if you want to hit that type of fishing at its finest.
After the slim pickings in March, it may seem like everything is suddenly hot in April, but cooler analysis shows that this isn't really so. Of those types of fishing that are good, some will be better early in April, some later in the month. Others should be postponed until May or even June. If we really look hard at the facts, some fish, such as pickerel and yellow perch, are actually better bets in March and should be crossed off the list of trips for this coming month.
Some types of fishing may be fine in April, but also good every other month through October: Smallmouth fishing in rivers, for instance. If you're interested in sampling the great diversity of sport fishing available locally, you'll want to put your bronze-back outings on the back burner now and hit the shad or white perch in rivers, where the fishing is more ephemeral.
It all depends upon your tastes, of course. If you're a dyed-in-the-wool largemouth fanatic, you'll be on the lakes whenever a spare hour arrives, worming and plugging away. But even fishermen with these narrow interests can benefit from charting out their trips.Farm ponds, for instance, which warm faster than big impoundments, will be best for bass fishing early in the month, the large lakes better for later trips.
Certain areas offer tolerably good fishing over long periods, but are stupendous for a fortnight or a month each year. Jot them down on the calender and make plans to spend a few days during the blitz. Timing is often more important than fishing skills in yielding those bonanza days on the water.
And when the fishing season winds to a close next November, don't toss out the calender. It's a valuable memory jogger for future seasons.As you go along this year, use it as a part of fishing diary and mark down fruitful trips for reference in planning next year's outings.
While it's impossible in this short space to cover all bets, here are a few ideas to mull over; mark them down on your calender if you're the forgetful type, and make plans to hit them while they're hot.
Right now white perch are in the Potomac and Rappahannock rivers. Look for shad in the Rappahannock any day. One angler took close to 50 fish here last year during the first week of April, so the hickories sould be in momentarily. April 15th is the date John Murto, of Fletcher's Boat House, predicts for the arrival of white shad in the Washington sector of the Potomac.
April 7 is the big day for cheese-dunkers, worm-drifters and spinner-tossers who want to get some of those hatchery trout recently stocked in Virginia's streams. The season opens at noon, and a $3 stout stamp is required. For fly-rodders, april should see Quill Gordons, olives and the begining of sulphur hatches on the better area streams.
Largemouths are moving into shallow water and feeding more with each paccing day. Mid-April through May will offer some of the best fishing of the year. Smallmouths should be biting in the shallow Shenandoah by the second week in April. For the deeper Rappahannock and Potomac, plan a trip for early May to hit the waters at their peak. Right now, crappie and bass in the smaller lakes and whitc perch in the Potomac and Rappahannock are the best bets.