Three Lantern Marine

By Steve Zelck

Well, as I write this article there is still six feet of snow covering the ground. Most inland rivers and harbors are frozen over and the water temp stands at a balmy 35 degrees. Needless to say, we have all had enough of this. With any luck, by the time you read this come April, things will have changed. Get ready my fellow fishing brothers, spring is right around the corner and it is my opinion that lots of things are going to change this season.

First off, the water is colderwe all know that. Second, we’ve got six feet of snow that is going to melt and keep the water cold. Therefore, in my opinion- one that doesn’t mean much- everything is going to be late. The macs will be late, the flounder will be late, the stripers will be late, and the bluefish will be late. Hey, wouldn’t it be great if all the alligators actually showed up? And yes, last but not least, the tuna will be late.

So when the fish do get here, the water is going to be colder than usual, therefore, the fish are going to be sluggish. Their metabolism is going to be slower and aren’t going to feed as often. So what do you do in this case? Well, you have two choices. One, you put a super tasty live bait or artificial lure right in front of them so they absolutely can’t resist it. Two, you piss the fish off and get a reaction strike. Ever since I was a kid, as young as seven, I used to fish with this old curmudgeon of a guy. His name was Bill Kichemaster, and as much as I hate to admit it, the wrinkly old guy was right… he was usually right.

I remember one year with him, just after a cold winter, it was probably mid June and we were off Halibut Point, the bluefish had just migrated in. There were thousands of them. We trolled in front of them, we trolled through them, we casted in front of them, beside them, you name it. Then the old geezer says, “well, let’s try something.” He hooks up his favorite popper, throws it up and into the middle of the school. Number one, he scares the crap out of the school, but at the same time, smacks one right on top of the head. This pissed the blue off and causes the reaction strike. I’ve seen it work, time and time again, when they just aren’t biting. Other than that, I feel your best tactic is to cover lots of ground in hopes you find a hungry one or a dumb one.

For shore fishermen, this will mean lots of casts, wading along and patrolling the rocky shores. For the boat fishermen, I recommend some serious trolling. I know some of you hate to troll, but if you want to catch fish, it is going to up your odds. First, you’re going to cover lots of ground, improving your chances of seeing something on the surface or on your fish finder. Even if you don’t get bit, you’re gathering intel and either finding the fish and where they have first shown up or you know where the fish aren’t and to look elsewhere.

There’s a definite buzz here on the Gloucester waterfront about the upcoming tuna season. Most of the experienced tuna captains are expecting an epic troll season due to the cold. I know for a fact that several are pushing to have green sticks put on their boats or are upgrading their outriggers. Who knows what the coming season will bring. As that old curmudgeon Kitchemaster used to say, “Some years will be good, some years will be bad. But one thing you can count on is that every year is different.”


Headshot_SteveZelckFORECAST BY: Steve Zelck was born and raised in Gloucester. Steve’s love of the sea lured him back to pursue his fishing passion and not a day goes by without him checking the pulse of the harbor for action. If you don’t find Steve at Three Lantern Marine, you can bet he’s out working on the F/V Jean Elizabeth hauling traps or hunting bluefin on the F/V Eagles Nest. www.