Knowing How Striped Bass See Can Improve Your Catch
Darrell Brake of Madison and his dad caught a bite that resulted in an action-filled striper trip. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Durham’s Josh Abdelmaseh and his buddies had a successful sea bass day on Long Island Sound. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Many boaters shy away from the fog, and rightfully so, since it’s a hazard that few enjoy motoring through. However, experienced fishers find that after the cooler evening air meets the warmer water and fog forms—usually when the difference between air temperature and dew point is less than four degrees—it can be optimal striped bass fishing.
It was like that this one morning when the horn sounding outside the harbor seemed to come from multiple directions. Dense fog magically appeared from nowhere and things vanished just as quickly, causing the skipper and helmsman to be ever so vigilant. Unfortunately, some vessels under the so-called protection of radar seemed oblivious to would-be fishers at anchor. They traveled at unsafe speeds, creating wakes that endangered and upset an otherwise tranquil fishing scene.
In spite of risks, the pursuit of catching a striped bass brings out the diehards. Fog offers a blanket of protection to stripers and, in these conditions, some light-sensitive cells in the retina of their eyes excel in contrasting food against structure. In nighttime, these rods highlight black, white, and gray, whereas, in daylight, cones dominate and take over, emphasizing color—a good thought to remember when selecting lures.
Fog kept rolling in and the only sounds were wavelets slapping some rocks that stood awash. They were the same rocks we drifted past in an attempt to entice a bass or two thought to be lying in wait of food. The menu was simple: a live eel (black) and a bucktail (white) with the back half of an eel attached or a bucktail with a contrasting trailer.
The fog was so thick that swinging around to pick up the drift again was pretty much guesswork. By the time those rocks came back into view, we were almost on top of them, but as it turned out, that was the place to be. An hour and a half of casting netted us five respectable linesiders, which were all returned to their lairs. The fog barely lifted and, surprisingly, there were still no other vessels in sight—a missed opportunity for some. So the next time fog encroaches a likely bass den, you might give it a second thought if your competency level warrants it. It might turn out to be a trip worth remembering.
On the Water
A thumb’s up for the much-needed rain that trickled down recently. Our rivers and reservoirs certainly could use more. Meanwhile, tides in the Sound moderated, giving fishers a better fishing window on the flood. Winds have been a factor on some days, but overall, fishing has been good with central Sound water temperatures about 73 degrees and warmer in the tidals.
Visiting humpback whales have been foraging on the abundance of menhaden, squid, and spearing, while the seals are educating anglers on their adeptness on snatching hooked and almost-caught fish. This has been creating challenging fishing conditions for many reef fishers simply because striped bass and bluefish are on the move and often confined close to the shoreline.
That has not always been the case. The Race and Six Mile Reef have recently been active with multi-specie fish, especially by the drop-offs, while inshore, feeding frenzies are catching anglers off guard. There have been schools of silversides and small pods of bunker suddenly erupting near the surface while under attack by foraging bluefish.
Striped bass are causing anglers to work and catches have been mixed—anywhere from 10 to 20 pounds with some more than 35. Faulkner’s and Southwest are seeing an increase in catches, but due to the heat, heavier fish have been laying low in cooler water where live eels, a drift with squid, or other fresh fish may get their attention. Once connected, multiple catches of undersized linesiders is not uncommon. Low light is still best.
Bluefish, on the other hand, have been quite a bit more active. Poppers on top and diamond jigs or chunks fished sub-surface are scoring. From east to west, the blues are foraging and exciting the birds during their feeding frenzies. Inshore casters are catching six-pounders (small snappers, too) and, at sundown, much-larger ones. Offshore, fish to 15 pounds and better are working deeper water and the rip lines along with unexpected catches of weakfish.
Sea bass got another boost with fish again showing up to 24 inches. This time they were caught in nearshore waters out to central Sound. Their voracious appetites had them biting anything from jigs to bait, whether drifting or anchored. Scup remains on fire from shore points and on most any reef, while fluke catches have been way up, especially in water more than 50 feet. Deep water and large baits have boated the doormats, although the harbor and channels have seen fish in excess of 20 inches. When fishing the tidal rivers, be prepared to work for any white perch, but keep a crab net handy because the blue crabs are out in force.
Freshwater trout fishing improved with the recent rain, but is still tentative in the minor rivers. Bass fishing is good and pike, catfish, pickerel, and panfish are all biting, while walleye are having their moments in the evening.
Remember the weekend of Saturday, Aug. 27-Sunday, Aug. 28 for the Big Bluefish Tourney where you could be this year’s $25,000 winner. Registrations are now being accepted at Captain Morgan’s.
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For all things fishy including fly fishing, 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...