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Fisherman Bob Clegg of Madison experiences the strength of this three-pound, 33-inch East River American eel before releasing it unharmed. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Craig “Cowboy” Schmidt of Madison recently caught a meal of fresh clams from the Guilford shellfish beds. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
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What makes fishing in Long Island Sound so interesting is that each year is different. The Sound is continually changing, impacted by the weather and climatic conditions. Add the ever-moving water of tidal flows and incessant wave action altering the shoreline, and a fisher is confronted with a changing habitat.
As we know, water temperature is the one catalyst that drives a fishery, starting with the smallest in the food chain and ending with the largest. So far, we’ve experienced various species systematically returning to the Big Pond, albeit not always on schedule. There are times the numbers are greater or fewer than in previous years and, periodically, a species or two may not show at all. Sometimes, a new face may even pop up.
All of this prompts a fisher to contemplate what’s in store for this season. Reading the water will help in determining when, where, and what to fish with, as well as for what. Some fish are sight feeders (bonito) and chase down their prey, while others prefer the ambush (striped bass) and surprise tactic. Fluke will have a tendency to act both as an attack and sight predator. Others school on reefs (scup) and pick at what’s available. Knowing which species is where will help to fine tune your game plan.
As the seasons change and the weather kicks in, bottom structure changes. A slight change can alter where fish will congregate and hunt. In turn, that change will cause an experienced fisher to fish differently and, ultimately, be more successful. To get the most out of a trip, it’s generally best to fish for what’s running at the time. For the ultimate experience, a fisher will target a specific specie, learn as much about it, and enter into its virtual habitat, fishing in a manner consistent with what drives that particular fish. Often, though, it’s enough just to get out with family and friends on the water and enjoy wetting a line. So, come on and join the ever-growing family of fishers!
On the Water
We’re into June and the air temps did climb into the 80s, but then dropped back down to the low 70s. That fluctuation brought on a mild chill, east winds, choppy seas, and a bit of rain before easing up. With the new moon welcoming a fresh week, fishing remains good overall.
There’s been a movement of 30-plus-pound striped bass into the Sound with catches being made inshore from kayaks and out on the reefs. Live eels, chunks, and artificials brought about hookups, while trollers managed linesiders using bunker spoons. Live-lining bunker also produced fish, but some of those schools of menhaden have been less dense and seemed to have scattered, while others stacked up in a few different harbors. The inshore and tidal river bite has been OK with sea worms catching most fish, followed by shad and plugs. Live eels after dark and pre-dawn hours worked well for many late-day fishers, especially once the winds subsided. Look to fish Cornfield Point, Crane Reef, Menunketesuck, Outer Southwest, Hammonasset Rip, Charles Reef, Faulkner’s Island, and The Beacon.
Thick-shouldered bluefish have been intercepting umbrella rigs meant for stripers and weakfish. They’ve also been chomping on chunks, bucktails, and trolling plugs. A few small schools of short blues have made their way close to shore, but with the bunker being scattered, it’s been hit or miss. Those fishing from shore with chunks are also pulling in large sea robins, skate, and a few dogfish.
Black sea bass show no sign of letting up, however, fewer humpbacks in the four- to five-pound range are being boated in favor of ones weighing less. Fishing in depths under 60 feet will generally guarantee the smaller fish and, in waters closer to shore, they probably won’t make the limit of 15 inches. Squid continues to be the No. 1 bait to use. However, being opportunistic feeders, they are taking to a variety of other baits, including jigs. Fluke catches to eight pounds are picking up steam as they migrate following the forage (squid) across Six Mile, Long Sand Shoal, Faulkner’s, and into several harbors. Slab porgy (scup) are now also being caught on the reefs.
Time to start catching some blue crabs. Water temperatures rose and the rivers and tidal ponds are beginning to see more crabbers. Prepare to work for a small cooler-full, but in the long run, it may be worth the effort.
On the freshwater scene, trout fishing is still active, although fewer anglers are out on the rivers, with many turning their sights to the briny. Since the last of spring, stocking took place and water levels are lower, but with good conditions, most fish congregate in the pools, leaving fewer to spread out along the riffles. Thus, fishing for these bows, browns, brookies, and tigers will become more challenging despite an abundance of insects. On the other hand, lake fishing is promising with largemouth and smallmouth bass, pickerel, crappie, perch, some pike, good carp, walleye, and sunnies. Now is the time to catch channel catfish, considering that the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection recently stocked almost 16,000 (up to 18 inches) of them in 24 lakes and ponds throughout the state. They are fun and tasty!
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 the latest gear, 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...
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