15 Minutes with: Gene Bourque
Here’s what we learned…
Location: Shallow Bays
Tides: All tides.
Approach: The challenge is finding upper areas of estuaries and bays where a water temperature of 60 – 62 degrees is present – in the spring there can be quite dramatic differences in a huge area like Ninigret Pond in Rhode Island with all those little coves where the water warms up quickly on sunny days but may be as much as five degrees cooler only a quarter mile away, outside in the more open water. So it really pays to do a lot of exploring. Dark, muddy bottoms are where the worms will be found.
Rigging Selection: Hogy X-Strong 1/0 Weighted Swim Bait Hook
Bait Selection: Hogy 4inch Skinny Series
Why this bait? The 4″ Skinny in bubblegum, chartreuse or bone rigged on Hogy’s 1/0 unweighted swim bait hook will get the job done. I have a lot of experience (and admittedly, a fair amount of frustration!) with the worm spawn events in various places on the Upper Cape and in Rhode Island. In some areas the worm spawn events that last for a number of days (especially in Rhode Island) while on the Cape you might need to be lucky enough to come upon them for one tide. When I worked as the editor of On The Water magazine we ran quite a few stories about the event and some of the most informative were by outdoor writer Bob Sampson. He always maintained that it was entirely temperature dependent, i.e., when the water reached exactly 62 degrees he counted on it happening (he had great success in Ninigret and also in CT in the Mystic River). There are theories about the full or new moon extreme tides in May and June triggering the event but I suspect that may be because of the water being abnormally low at those times and the bottom heating up quickly because of those conditions.
Colors: The 4″ Skinny in bubblegum w/ 1/0 unweighted swim bait hook would be the way to go; chartreuse is a good second choice. The 6″ Skinny in those colors might work but smaller is always better.
Retrieve: With those 4″ Skinny Hogys, be sure to try a variety of retrieves because the fish usually want a particular retrieve (fast, slow, stop-and-go with sharp jerks, dead drift) and that can change over the course of the days the event occurs or even over the course of a tide. Generally speaking, if you’re lucky enough to come upon a worm spawn when it first occurs the fish are less selective.
Rod: 7 6″ St. Croix Legend Inshore
Reel: Penn Spinfisher SSV4500
Line: 30lb Powerpro
Leader: 36″ 12lb Fluorocarbon Leader