We’re well into another fall season and it’s time for the 29th annual Eddie Beauvais Blackfish Tournament. It all started with vets raising money to fund blankets for our troops. Now, the money raised goes to the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW). Will the ‘togs remain deep due to the warm water or will they come in like they were this summer? The season officially re-opened on Oct. 10 and already ‘tog pullers are out looking for the sought-after white chins.
Blackfish (tautog) is one fish whose fillets are considered excellent table fare. They’re ranked up there with black sea bass and fluke and are just as relaxing to fish for, but that’s where the similarity ends. They enjoy feeding on clams, sea worms, and relish a variety of crabs, whole or otherwise. Additionally, they are adept at skillfully evading being caught, while tactfully stealing your bait.
These bulldogs need your undivided attention in order to detect the slightest tap or chew. Once their molars start working on the shell of a crab, it’s too late to set the hook. In fact, when using a soft bait, the pick up with their lips and the sucking in of the morsel are often barely detected unless one’s fingers are holding the line.
So what better way to welcome in another fall ‘tog season than to become part of a long-standing tradition and test your skill at pulling these stubborn rock hounds from their lairs? Not only is the tournament fun, but the day’s events will be unlike any other that you’ve participated in. The last opportunity to register is on Friday, Oct. 13. The tournament takes place from Saturday, Oct. 14 through Saturday, Oct. 21 and culminates with a banquet at Fireman’s Field in Guilford. There will be cash awards, trophies, great raffle prizes, a cool T-shirt, hot food dishes, and a keg for $40. Share in the fun and bring along a friend or two. You’ll be glad you did.
On the Water
The first week of October saw the Hunter’s Full Moon, although air temperatures were still a bit warm to get the hunters too excited. The week also exhibited turbulent seas with high waves crashing the beaches amid periods of small craft warnings. There were some absolutely pleasant days that crept in, though, allowing fishers to launch their vessels into 69-degree inshore waters of the Sound.
Schools of peanut bunker swarmed the local eastern waters, as well as adult sizes that were chased by fairly large bluefish. Fishers were kept busy casting their lures into the foray as those blues moved along the shoreline, while tearing up tackle and shredding steel leaders. Most bluefish today are released unless one knows the secrets of dressing, preparing, and cooking them effectively. Although that flurry of activity woke up the surf casters, offshore reefs like Cornfield, Cranes, Southwest, Charles, Faulkner’s, and the Beacon also shared in the action. Most effective were trolling tubes, diamond jigging, chunking, and live baiting.
What makes this time of year exciting is the mix of fish vying for their share of the protein-rich food needed for the migration and upcoming season. Striped bass of varying sizes were definitely not shy, either. Granted, several of the cows caught were loaners and relegated to low-light fishing conditions, but those crowding the blues were small-to-average size fish with many hardly reaching the legal limit of 28 inches.
Live eels were obviously a top menu choice and, in some cases, live-lining a bunker could not be passed. However, a wide array of lures also generated hookups. Soft Slugo-types, swim baits, top water poppers, swimmers, and spoons cast or trolled have had the desired effect. Stripers on both the shoreline and hugging the reefs have been quite active, especially prior to drops in pressure, indicating an impending front. Working the troughs, sluiceways, and backsides of rips have also been productive spots. Where tidal rivers and bays meet the Sound, the incoming was the place to be.
Albie schools have been working the inshore reefs from The Race and Tuna Alley right on through to New Haven and beyond. Crane Reef, Hammonasset Beach, Faulkner’s, and Browns have attracted these speedsters, but not for very long. Be creative and try something new since this year they varied their appetite and have been caught on fresh baits, flies, soft plastics, hard lures, and even plugs. Lead the school and reel accordingly to hook one of these sight feeders.
The fall scup bite remains hot and looks solid for the immediate future. Black sea bass is following suit, although in many cases, the better fish are found much deeper. Squid continues to be the best bait on the reefs, but inshore, porgies are still gobbling up sandworms. With ideal water temps and plenty of food, even coastal sharks are not in a hurry to leave.
For you inland fishers, mid- to lower tidal rivers have been explosive at times. Baitfish have been moving in and out, including hickory shad, making that fishery accessible and fun to catch. It’s also a good time to soak some blue crab bait since catches are up.
Lake trout stocking started up again, but rivers need more water. However, good fishing can be had in key rivers and Trout Management Areas that have adequate flows. Bass fishing remains very good, pike catches have improved, carp and catfish catches are up, walleye are into the fall bite, crappie are feeding more, and the sunnies are totally aggressive.
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...