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Old scrapbooks containing vintage fishing pictures tell the story from way back when, but there is a different tale to spin these days. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Steve Barron of Westbrook will be up against new regulations when he fishes for blackfish (tautog) this fall. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
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Our fisheries are in a state of flux. Suddenly, we are seeing are the results of slight changes that have been occurring for decades. Older fishers are now in the position that their grandfathers and great-grandfathers were and are telling similar stories to their kids. Along with these recaps of yesteryear, the youngsters are equally are aghast with the faded, black-and-white Kodak photos that are being pulled from an old shoe box.
The sheer numbers and sizes of fish that used to be routinely caught are just talk today. Yes, record-breakers are still being pulled from our oceans and duly documented. More often that not, though, the records consist of smaller fish caught on lighter weight lines. The bottom line is that there are fewer fish.
Notable changes are occurring in our most northern territories, where elders are telling stories of how the fishing used to be compared to today. They talk about less ice, more open water, and areas where high water never used to be, but are now frequently flood, forcing relocation. Villages that lived on what the waters provided for centuries are now barely squeaking out a living.
Fish stocks do, in fact, migrate to more suitable locations to forage and spawn, but not so much to visit friends or relatives like so many of us do. It’s similar to going on a vacation to escape the weather. If these stocks reach a low level of sustainability without any relief, they will eventually perish. Sometimes, they will seek nature’s protection and might be able to maintain a low profile for a while, but with the modern technology that’s available, that is getting harder and harder.
It is up to our fisheries management teams to monitor the health of those important stocks in their entirety. Now, it is mandated at the highest level to do so. The system isn’t perfect, nor will it ever be since we can’t track every fish and fisher. Thus, the battle over balancing regulations for the benefit of fish and fishermen will likely continue as long as personal interests are at stake.
Recently, we lost Sudan, the last male northern white rhino. Some Atlantic fish that appear to be in trouble are Atlantic cod, bluefin tuna, Atlantic sturgeon, Atlantic halibut, monkfish, and various sharks, including the great white, sandtiger, and the striped-smooth hound. Popular fish, like our summer flounder, underwent a recent regulation change that was relaxed, although blackfish (tautog) saw its regulations tighten. With another season rapidly approaching, it is essential to put politics aside and look at the whole picture—not just a slice. That being said, regulations are a tedious process and are generally put into place while erring on the side of caution.
On the Water
Spring has sprung with the fourth nor’easter in three weeks. It is the end of March, which is turning out to be a colder than normal month, one with atypical weather patterns and a whole bunch of uncertainty. At least, air temps are on the rise.
Inshore water temperatures have been steady at around 39 degrees with accompanying sea conditions continuing to be erratic. Nevertheless, there has been striped bass activity in the tidal rivers and beaches. Most notably, both birds and bass have been targeting live eels that have either made their way down to the Sound or washed down with the recent nor’easters. Some of these Anguilla rostrata have been sizable, while others boiled down to bite-size portions. Additionally, these bass have been taking swimmers, some top waters, and soft plastics. Fly fishers working windless days have been scoring on deceivers and clousers.
We are edging closer to opening day of trout season on Saturday, April 14. There’s no doubt the stocking trucks are having their work cut out for them in the midst of this winter weather. Lakes, especially the Trout Management Lakes (TMLs), have obviously taken priority due to the high levels and fast flows of the rivers. Other locations throughout the state that have not been as vulnerable are now seeing more stocking activity, including rivers like the Salmon and Farmington. If the atmosphere continues to harbor moisture, look to stock up on sinking lures and flies.
Although anglers fishing the non-stocked lakes and ponds have been catching the normal variety of fishes, the weather has once again dampened their efforts. The exceptions have been the TMLs and a few of the Trout Management Areas. Some of the catches have been rather nice, although most were about average when conditions were tolerable. Bear in mind that trout and salmon anglers are required to have a trout and salmon stamp (a one stamp combo for $5), even when fishing catch and release waters. An exception would be if bass anglers are fishing for bass in trout lakes, in which case possession rules.
Annual Trout Contest
It’s time to register for the annual Codi & Bubba Memorial Opening Day Trout Contest. Fish anywhere. Heaviest trouts caught and weighed win either first, second, or third place. Bragging rights, plus prizes. Fishers under 12 fish free when accompanied with a registered adult.
Marine Regulation Update
For blackfish, the regulations are 16 inches for two fish from Sunday, April 1 through Monday, April 30; 16 inches and two fish from Sunday, July 1 through Friday, Aug. 31; and 16 inches and three fish from Wednesday, Oct. 10 to Wednesday, Nov. 28.
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 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...
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