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James Luce of Madison landed and released this eel-caught, 47-inch striper while fishing with Capt. Mike Roy in Long Island Sound. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Isabella Costanzo, age 6, netted this 7.75-inch point-to-point blue jimmy while crabbing with her dad Frank.(Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
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Although a variety of live and fresh cut bait are used regularly to catch fish, recently, the old faithful diamond jig is proving its worth once again. Whether tipped with bait or used in conjunction with a teaser, it has been an outstanding performer. The reason is its ability to uniquely imitate small baitfish and, as we know by now, Long Island Sound is absolutely inundated with schools of them.
There are spearing, sardines, peanut and adult menhaden, species of silversides, and small snapper blues throughout the Big Pond. Wired to consume them en masse, every predator in the Sound is attempting to turn these fish into bait balls. In many cases, they will join forces to corral them before chowing down. Certainly, this behavior is evident with bluefish, striped bass, and even our visiting humpback whales as they work in unison trapping bunker in the bays.
As one drifts across a reef and drops one of these diamond jigs to the bottom, it descends while reflecting light and, in some cases, wobbling as it goes. What better imitation of a silverside or sand eel can there be? As it makes its way through the water column mixing with these baitfish below, a strike will often be generated on the drop or retrieve as a result—a bass near the bottom, a blue near the top, or some other unexpected surprise.
Diamond jigging is easy, requiring a jig heavy enough to reach bottom with gear able to withstand the constant dropping and cranking, yet sensitive enough to detect a bite. Monofilament line will give and stretch, while braided line is thinner, drops quicker, and transmits vibrations better. In any case, a good leader is recommended to withstand the rigors of any bottom structure and guard against sharp teeth or gill covers. To avoid a bird’s nest, slow down the rotation of the spool with your thumb before the jig hits bottom. A word of caution: Braid can burn and cut the skin if not cautious.
Fishing this way is fun, productive, and requires less gear, unless one is inattentive and has a tendency to hang bottom a lot. Common diamond jigs are chrome and run in different sizes. They also give the fisher something extra to hold on to when dealing with a caught fish. So if the next time out you find yourself on top of a bait school and not much is happening below, tie on a jig, let it rip, then keep working it.
On the Water
A great week for fishers as more fish rounded the corner, plowed through The Race, and into the Sound. In fact, it was the best week of the summer! Central surface water temperatures are around 73 degrees and as cool as 68 degrees farther east. We had some much-needed rain, but not enough to conquer drought conditions. Following the front, late day wind created choppy seas, although fishing under the new moon phase mostly went unhindered.
There has been no let up on baitfish as more schools of menhaden, silversides, squid, and sardines are balling up and being pursued by every predator imaginable. One would think that our visiting humpback whales would have made a huge dent in the supply, but so far, that has not been the case. With the WICC Bluefish Tourney coming up in three weeks, the timing could not be better.
Bluefish have been quite thick by the offshore reefs and those jigging for stripers are having difficulty getting through the schools to the bass below. Linesiders in excess of 40 inches are making inroads and have rejuvenated several reefs from Valiant Rock to Six Mile, outer Southwest, Faulkner’s Island, The Beacon, and through to New Haven harbor. Plenty of smaller stripers have been caught from shore and in the tidal rivers where ‘yakers and small vessel operators are catching fish on light gear using plugs and bait.
Fluke are making more of a statement of late as some doormats and numerous shorts are taking bottom rigs tipped with squid, sand eels, and spearing. Six Mile, Long Sand Shoal, and Mud Bottom have produced worthwhile catches. The top of the tide yielded sizable porgies, enough to satisfy any scup banger—no problem limiting out! If one is on any reef, there will probably be scup gathered. Some blackfish (tautog) are hitting again, but nowhere near the black sea bass action. Fish in excess of 20- to 24 inches have been caught recently, but generally, deep water was the key.
Snapper blues are small, but are getting bigger and taking lures, snapper poppers, and spearing. More smooth dogfish are round, along with a few other species of sharks and plenty of edible sea robins. To round out the dinner table, blue crabs are having a whopper of a season. Jimmies to eight inches are being caught, as well as peelers. If you have not been in the estuaries, you are missing out scooping, trapping, and catching one of the delicacies of the sea.
Freshwater bass got a break from the heat and are biting better with more lunkers showing up. Pike catches are good, catfish even better, panfish are hot, and walleye are best at night. Trout are in deep, cool lake water, while the rivers still need more water, although pools can be fished successfully with finesse.
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 flies, 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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