Alarm clocks buzzing send sleepy hands reaching for the snooze button, but when the first big Striped Bass of the season arrive, an addict like me will hit the ground running.

Coffee brewed the night before, a crisp sunrise, and fingers ready to pounce on fly line, it's the only breakfast I need until the sun is high and turning winter skin rosy red.


So was the case this past week as fellow fishing fiend and I made plans to hit the water pre-dawn, hoping to find the first Striper of the season.

Preparing to tow six thousand pounds of fiberglass in the dark had me compulsively checking straps and trailer lights longer than I will later in the summer. Arriving to the Newburyport ramp thirty minutes later than planned, as the sun was just peaking over the horizon.


As soon as the freshly installed electronics fired up, the screen was filled with baitfish. It wasn't long till we were spotting substantial ripples as big Stripers chased down Herring in the glow of morning light. All too soon excited whispers changed to frustration as our casts came back without a tug. Within minutes the sun grew brighter, the ebb tide went slack, and the boils of ample Bass grew further and further apart. As the dawn turned to day it seemed our quarry had eaten its fill and the bite was off.


As the incoming tide brought cold water into the Merrimack river, we checked our favorite spots, finding them vacant of the schoolie bass we had hoped to greet on their migration north.

With fishing, as with life, we take what we learn and try again with more knowledge than before. Spring in New England is an exciting time for salty anglers, like me, and with every new tide we get one step closer to reuniting with the iconic Striped Bass.