Planning Your Year

During winter months, make your own flies!

by Mike Buss, Jan. 2017

Happy New Year and I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and found many fly fishing goodies under your Christmas tree. Now is the time to make plans to put these goodies to use. I’m talking about taking some time to plan your fishing year.

The first step is to review last year and you can do this in one of two ways. One is to rely on your memory of last year and we all know how accurate and reliable that will be. The preferred method is to pull out your fishing logbook and review your fishing trips both successful and unsuccessful. If you don’t have one or didn’t use one last year, I urge you to get one. It can be as simple as a small notebook that will fit into your pocket.

The following items to note on each trip should be written inside the cover of the notebook: date, location, weather, tide conditions, water temperature, number, type and size of fish caught, flies used, techniques used, and anything else you may want to note.

Next, get out a calendar of the upcoming year and note the major fish migrations for your area. I live here in the Tidewater area and I know that speckled trout and puppy drum will begin to come into our shallow water areas in early spring to be followed later by cobia and red and black drum. Striped bass will also be making their way out of the Chesapeake Bay in the spring on their way to their summer haunts in New England following spawning earlier in the year in the upper Bay. Sharks will show in early summer. The fall brings a reversal of these migrations.

Now that we have the major movements of our favorite fish, we can look at our logbook to pinpoint when and where we should be fishing. Weather will always be a factor, but similar tide and moon phases should produce similar fishing conditions from year to year. Now all you need to do is mark down on your calendar the dates that were good last year or mark off those dates that were not so good. By keeping a good accurate logbook over the years, you can almost predict from year to year when and where the best fishing will be.

By using your calendar and logbook you can plan your fishing year and make sure that you will be on the water when conditions will be favorable for good results.

This month also could see a major invasion of striped bass off the coast of Virginia Beach. It has not happened for the last couple of years because cold weather and cold water temperatures have kept these large stripers far off shore outside the 3 mile limit for fishing for them. Hopefully, this year will stay warm so they come in close to shore where we will have a real shot at catching a 25+lbs striper on a fly. We had a run a few years ago when this was the case. Let’s keep our fingers crossed for this year.