Weekend Warrior: A hard rain’s a-gonna fall, means something’s gonna happen

Perhaps the greatest live performance ever sung is Dylan’s meandering, slowed-down rendition of “Hard Rain’s a-gonna Fall” at Carnegie Hall in 1963.

This performance has literally nothing to do with the fishing report, aside from the very clear fact that it’s pouring rain outside of my window (and snow outside of some of your windows), and while I should be out chasing pre-migration stripers or pre-spawn largemouth, I’m typing this and watching “No Direction Home” for the 27th time. (If you’re anything of a Dylanite or a fan of music documentaries in general and you haven’t seen this one, drop everything you’re doing and watch it.)

It’s the quiet before the storm. Do you feel it–the dropping pressure, the change in temperature. If you’re a true striper junkie, you’ve only got the next two weeks to relax, sleep in, and build up your last few hours of “comp time” with the family before the season kicks in. The stripers are coming whether you’re ready or not. This week, the first racers of spring arrived on the Islands, meaning, in a typical year, we’ll see them on the mainland–along Buzzards, Bay and the Southside–in the next three days or so.

Two nights ago, knowing that the long range forecast for the following few days didn’t look ideal, I ventured down to my local river on the incoming tide and found micro bass chasing silversides around the shallows. There were light winds, no moon, and a flooding tide and a river full of bait. It felt like spring. It felt like striper season.

We tend to envision the migration happening suddenly and all at once. This is rarely the case. The bass move into our system in small pockets and schools, intermingling with our substantial resident population. The migration is massive in scale, but spread out across a huge swath of square mileage dotted with prime striper structure–harbors, coves, rocky points and shorelines, estuaries, inlets, tidal rivers. These waves continue to move in until they have spread out across all of our “home waters.” Then one day, you wake up and it’s striper season season again.

We’re in the early stages now. One thing I look forward to every year is that first night where they really show–when the stripers strike blindly on every cast and chase the fly right to your wading boots. We’re still a few weeks out from this. But this weekend, I plan to drop the Old Town Sportsman PDL into a few systems on Cape that I haven’t had a chance to explore in any great detail. Exploring new sytems without the pressure of actually catching fish is appealing for some odd reason. I’ll tell myself that it’s okay if I don’t catch anything–that I’m content just being out there, cold water against waders, a half moon in the sky and silversides in the shallows. Maybe it’ll even be true.

I’m a goin’ back out ‘fore the rain starts a fallin’. Not today, Bob. Maybe tomorrow. A hard rain’s a still a-fallin’. Almost time to go out and find the first stripers of the year.

Billy Mitchell

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