This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published December 1, 2016
Here it is, December, and many are already immersed in the holiday season—except if you are a fisher by nature, that is. If you are, you might find yourself in the company of a few others with similar bloodlines. For it’s the time of year that these diehards make their way from Cape Cod to Montauk down through Block Island into New Jersey and wind up in mid-Atlantic waters somewhere around Chesapeake Bay.
Granted, most of these primetime fishers are in pursuit of striped bass following the craggy Atlantic coastline where it meets the infamous briny. And since southerly migrating stripers will often mix in with ill-tempered bluefish, these choppers can be counted on to break up any monotonous stretch of time spent casting from a beach.
In years past, the journey might encounter some humpback whales that summered in Cape Cod and eventually followed the food chain south. This year, as in a few other recent ones, several of these whales didn’t find it necessary to extend their course as far northward, instead settling on Connecticut and New York waters.
The reason for this is simple: food. Following recent restrictions by the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission on the annual harvest of Atlantic menhaden, this quick-recovery fishery has rebounded to the point of becoming an outright, noticeably available food supply. It’s a food supply that’s much more ecologically important than “munnawhatteung,” which is the Native American term for fertilizer.
This fishery suddenly became an instant magnet to a variety of predators like striped bass, bluefish, and weakfish, as well as cetaceans including dolphins and whales. With the warming of coastal marine waters, in addition to the spike in numbers of menhaden, it’s no wonder that both fishery and humpback whales would be here and stay longer. Certainly, a feeding whale in Long Island Sound or New York Harbor would spice up anyone’s trip while venturing down the striper coast.
From a fully packed 4x4, a typical bass chaser would spend most of his or her time not far from the buggy. Anything essential would be at arm’s length and, if need be, a tackle shop would probably not be far off. Whether from the surf, jetty, or a rocky perch, this type of angler will feel right at home. Heck, he or she may even catch the same fish released just a few days earlier.
Sometimes, a fisher would arrive at a destination before the fish. Other times, the fisher would miss the run completely and have to play catch up. Until someone actually takes the journey, one cannot understand the significance of timing in this one-way adventure. For now, most fishers will have to be content with stowing their gear until next season, when they hear the familiar call of, “Fish are in.”
On the Water
Slowly but surely, fall is losing its grip as water temperatures in central Long Island Sound hit 52 degrees, while inshore is fluctuating around the 48-degree mark. Although north winds offered fishers the protection of the immediate shore, all bets were off after the westerlies kicked in. It seems as though the crunch time of the holidays, coupled with weather events, are impacting the ability of fishers to freely wet a line.
However, both the bait supply and certain fisheries are holding their own even as water temps are slipping. With blackfish (tautog) season scheduled to close on Wednesday, Dec. 7, ‘tog pullers are taking advantage of windows of opportunity. Not only have ‘togs staged on the offshore reefs in 35- to 40-foot depths, they have been taking crabs in about 15- to 20-foot depths, as well. Most white chins moved deep, but plenty of smaller legal fish remain shallow. Therefore, it pays to check the varying water temps and move around as need be.
Striped bass action still continues, although it’s been a bit muted by recent standards. Top water plugs and jigs’n teaser tails have been working inshore, while mackerel chunks have been picked up by a bottom cruising linesider. Bunker schools are not as dense and are more spread out, but nevertheless, there are still good concentrations around. You might even pick up a blue in the process—one lingering in warmer water. And don’t forget about the black sea bass that haven’t settled down yet.
As temperatures drop and we are receiving more rain (unfortunately, not enough to offset drought conditions), the trout and salmon fishery is becoming the beneficiary. Key rivers are experiencing better levels and catches of brown trout and broodstock Atlantic salmon are up. Anglers are still working for their catches, however, cast- and drift-to-catch ratios are up, meaning less effort has been required. This is evident in both fly and spin fishing methods. Remember, as of Thursday, Dec. 1, an angler can keep one salmon per day, so head out and give the Shetucket or Naugy rivers a go.
Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and international fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media.
For all things fishy including licenses, swing by the shop (203-245-8665), open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...