For surf casters in the northeast, the month of January means the old season has ended, and the new season is still a few months away. People often speak of the summer doldrums but I never hear that much about the winter doldrums. The summer doldrums- that time from mid-July through August when striped bass fishing slows in the high heat of summer- at least affords you the opportunity to be outside fishing or enjoying other activities. The winter doldrums, are more of a downer. The days are short, the temperatures frigid, and under those circumstances, there isn’t much you can do to enjoy the outdoors. Let’s face it, if you are a passionate surf caster, this is a difficult time of year. The winter doldrums, including December give you about four months to sit and ponder the upcoming season. There are, however, a few things you can do to help you to survive the doldrums and keep surf fishing on the brain- a few activities that can keep you in the game even during the off season.
For anglers of all ages there is always something new to learn. That new lesson we learn today
can be just the ticket for the success of tomorrow. There are many opportunities to attend seminars, offered throughout the northeast, at the various fishing shows. Some of these are offered by the best salty anglers around. The knowledge and information they have to share is is priceless and of value to all. Speaking of priceless, most of these seminars are free with the show admission fee. These sessions are a great way to get out of the house and catch up with your fishing buddies- a time to swap experiences of the past season, and share in the anticipation building for the upcoming season.
It goes without saying that the winter shows will give you an opportunity to see what’s new in terms of gear, tackle and technique. You’ll encounter a lot of your favorite vendors and meet some new ones as well. It’s a great time to wheel and deal on the necessities you need to replenish.
Winter is also a nice, quiet time to catch up on some reading. Surfcasters and fishermen alike can check out the latest books, magazines, and online articles- including things you missed while you were on the water. We are fortunate to live in the technological age where a lot of this information is available at our finger tips. The Internet is a great asset to help narrow down your search on specific topics and types of fishing you want to learn about. It focuses your time and keeps you from having to dig through vast quantities of info not relevant to your interests.
Since the frigid temperatures will often find you staying inside, winter is the best time than to pour through your lures and equipment to make sure everything is in optimum condition for the upcoming season.
When it comes to lures, consider changing, or at least sharpening, all your hooks and checking
your split rings for wear. Check all your rods, making sure the guides straight and free of snags that could cause line abrasion. Check the reel seats to make sure the your reels will sit snug and line will transition smoothly to and from your spool. Don’t neglect your other gear such as your waders and jackets. Make sure there are no holes in them. A small hole in your waders can make for a miserable day of fishing especially in the early spring when water temperatures are still cold. Sharpen your bait knives, tune your lures to run straight and true. Get ready.
Besides making sure your gear is in top condition for the upcoming season, it is also a good idea to do an inventory of lures, terminal tackle, leaders, and other equipment to see what you might need to purchase for the upcoming season. For me, this is an especially good time to check out your lures. I purchase most of my lures in the off-season so I am fully stocked before the season starts. I never want to be in a situation where the fish are on a certain lure and I find myself needing to run to the local tackle shop because I did not plan properly. Even worse would be having to run there only to find
that they don’t have what I need because other unprepared anglers were doing the same thing. You never want to miss out on a good bite because of your lack of preparation.
The winter doldrums are also a great time to plan a family vacation. There are lots of places that are warm and offer a boatload of activities for you, your spouse, and the kids. This might even help you score a few needed points with the family that will benefit you when the fish are running and you need to get out there. In closing, the winter can be a real drag. You’re cooped up and itching to get outside. However, you can make the best of it by getting yourself organized for the next season. Look at it as a time to leave, a time to catch up on things that you neglected during the season past. Make the best of this time away from the water because before you know it, spring will be upon us. Live the Passion and Tight Lines!
Bernie Hoyt is a NYS Certified Fishing Guide with over 30 years experience specializing in surf
casting the legendary waters of Long Island. He is well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows up and down the Atlantic seaboard. Bernie offers trips along the outer beaches and inlets of Long Island, as well as the Cape Cod Canal, Cuttyhunk, and other Northeast Striper locations. He is a team member for S&S Bucktails, ODM RODS, and KastKing as well as a long time member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association and the Montauk Surfcasters Association.