Saturday, September 25, 2021


It’s Easy to Stretch Out This Fishing Season


Mike Policar of Clinton enjoys catching ‘togs throughout their season, providing that the weather holds. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

Mike Policar of Clinton enjoys catching ‘togs throughout their season, providing that the weather holds. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan)


One of the pristine rivers on the East Coast, the Shetucket, is fly fished by Madison’s Sarah Platt. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

One of the pristine rivers on the East Coast, the Shetucket, is fly fished by Madison’s Sarah Platt. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan)

It’s one of those mornings where the air is crisp and the skin feels the touch of fall’s bite. Looking across the way, the horizon is tinged with muted color as seen by any mariner or river fisher. The time is pre-holiday, when it’s early enough to enjoy the seasonal transition and peaceful enough to partake in a breath of solitude before the hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday season.

For some, it may be one of the last times the briny will touch a fisher’s hands or mud be wiped from waders—with the exception being late-season clammers. Right now, we’re still in the midst of fighting bluefish, lunging striped bass, and tugging ‘togs, which, in all probability, will be one of the Sound’s remaining seasonal fish to catch.

Fishing for blackfish (tautog) is rather relaxing, yet challenging. Generally, there are fewer vessels on the water, although the hot spots can get crowded as latecomers attempt to nudge into place. For the most part, though, one can find a quiet reef or rock pile where fishing is left to the fish and fishers and, oh yes, the seals. It’s the eventual cold and wind that will put an end to one’s salty season.

It doesn’t have to end here, however. There are places where an angler can get lost in time and blend into the scenery. In fact, there are a few rivers in the state where fishing for trout or salmon can easily replicate a faraway unspoiled place. One of those is the Shetucket, which is home to trophy trout and Atlantic salmon. This time of year, it invites casters to place their fly or other lure into one of its pools or riffles.

The 20-mile river winds from Norwich off the Thames River north to Windham, where it originates at the confluence of the Willimantic and Natchaug rivers. Parts have been designated as the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor and it’s been described as “the last green valley” from Boston to Washington. Whether a fisher is looking for a place to unwind from a hectic season or somewhere to fish before transitioning into the next one, try navigating the banks of the Shetucket to fish for one its trophies.

On the Water

Long Island Sound is still brimming with a practically full fishery as its water temperatures hang in around 60 degrees. Typically, the wind is creating obstacles for fishers as it makes it difficult to hold bottom or set up a drift. On calmer days, though, fishing has been exceptional for this time, even during those foggy morning starts.

Lately, the Atlantic menhaden have been moving in and out of the rivers and then spreading themselves throughout the Sound. We’re also seeing a fairly good run of hickory shad, the daily limit of which is six. Still, there is plenty of forage for both striped bass and bluefish, as well as any other predator that would like a meal.

Alligator choppers continue to slice through the bunker, often forcing and keeping them pinned in the tidal rivers. Blitzes in the lower tidals and on offshore reefs are occurring semi-regularly, creating flurries of top water activity for the casters. Chunkers have been into fish over 15 pounds, although the waters are full of smaller fish giving lighter gear a workout. A word of caution: Larger fish are being hooked, stressing overloaded light gear that starts with a good initial fight, but unfortunately leads to an unhappy ending and a good argument for a second heavier setup at the ready. Try poppers in the rivers and during offshore blitzes, while spoons, jigs, and swimmers have been working better out on the reefs.

Striped bass are in their element. Waters are gradually cooling down, we are approaching the Full Beaver Moon (the brightest in 68 years) on Monday, Nov. 14, and there is ample food to fill their gullets. These fish are hungry and are taking everything from soft plastics and top water plugs to live bait and jigs. Sizes are all over the board with time of day and tide varying. Action in both the rivers and reefs has been good as these linesiders are prepping for their holdover home.

Blackfish are being more aggressive depending on depths fished. From the wall to the reefs, these bulldogs are feeding, but are also evasive. Certainly, their numbers are down and fewer double-digit whitechins are being pulled from their lairs, making it more challenging for fishers. Nevertheless, ‘togs cannot resist a crab. Eventually, temptation will overcome their tentativeness. Check out the nearby rocky structures and offshore reefs. Most fish have been in the three- to five-pound range with the 8- to 10-pounder considered a good catch. And while you’re out on the reef pulling ‘togs, before it’s time to weigh anchor, one might consider heading to a sea bass spot and dropping a crab or jig for a humpback and try to grab one of those three- to four-pounders. These fish are still on the bite!

It looks like the albies and bones are still working the Sound, only now there are many more fish being caught in eastern Sound compared to last week. For you mid-coast fishers, keep an eye open from Faulkner’s east to the power plant. Scup, on the other hand, are definitely slowing down.

When it’s time to weigh anchor, Atlantic salmon are now being caught and released from the recent 275 fish stocking of the Shetucket River. However, many trout rivers are still trying to overcome low levels and others have undergone fall stockings, boosting the fishery and its catches. Both conventional lures and flies produce quality fish. The pike bite is improving, black crappie have been aggressive, and the walleye are coming around, while the basses have been challenging.

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 bait, 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...

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan

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