Best on the Shoreline!
It's time to nominate your favorites for the 2021 Best on the Shoreline Awards!
Derek Ulbrich of Guilford fly-fished deep in the rain forest of the Amazon River in Bolivia for the hard-fighting golden dorado. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Bass bikers are not an uncommon scene along the Cape Cod Canal in Bourne, Massachusetts, where this pair was caught pedaling their catch. (Photo courtesy of Michael Pascucilla )
Labor Day has passed and, just like Memorial Day weekend is considered the unofficial start of summer, this most recent holiday weekend symbolized the unofficial end of summer and back to school for many. We’re starting to see the beginnings of the seasonal staircase, where we experience the hot, humid summer air from the south and then get a shot of cooler air from the northern jet stream. Somewhere in between, a dose of rain appears, before the staircase starts acting like a protracted moving walkway.
However, for fishers, school means a gathering of fish that occurs during the time of the revolving staircase—a time when various species of game fish pursued by recreational anglers are caught and released for sport or brought home for the table. It is a time fish begin to re-energize while following (or chasing) their forage farther south or to deeper water.
There are many stop-offs along the way where these schools of fish temporarily disembark from the staircase. As forage leave their seasonal and somewhat protected habitat, schools of predators seemingly know when to be there. As water temperatures slowly drop, both predator and forage move and eventually meet on the journey. When this run occurs, many fishers consider it some of the best fishing of the year.
In fact, many dedicated fishers will start their journey in Maine and follow the striped bass run through Montauk all the way down to the shores of the Delaward-Maryland-Virginia (DelMarVa) region. The Atlantic water will change color and gradually warm, but the bottom structure, beaches, jetties, and piers will all be different. At times, there will be challenging weather and tackle mishaps, most of which will be overcome in the pursuit of a single passion. However, when a battered plug that hardly produced a hit all trip finally hooks into the best linesider of the outing, it finally all seems worthwhile.
We have just put the first foot on the staircase of what should be an exciting and invigorating next step in our yearly fishing adventure. Striped bass will be more perky, bluefish will be typically unpredictable whenever they emerge in force, the speedsters will garner all sorts of attention, and the blackfish (tautog) will be the endgame. Spinfishers will be out there casting away, conventionalists will be jigging and trolling the depths, and fly fishers will hopefully be stripping line as fast as they can. So, let the games begin!
On the Water
August went out with a 90-degree heat wave, before a brief cool-down in time for the long Labor Day weekend. Long Island Sound water temperature stayed within 76 degrees, while inshore tidal rivers broke the 80s. The tropical weather slowed the fish and fishers down to a very lazy routine, yet not surprisingly, some fish still responded in typical August fashion.
It was the deep, cooler water that held majority of the fish. Atlantic menhaden, mostly the peanut bunker variety, did fill pockets of the Sound, either in tight to shore or out toward spots like Faulkner’s. Again, it was the harbor blues that were on them with any larger blues found farther east or west. Those, along with the few that are trickling in, reacted favorably to diamond jigs, chunk bait, and whole fresh caught fish. Drifting or trolling bluefish spots can still produce a weakfish. Snapper blue fishing remains good as they feed on shiners, shiny lures, and snapper poppers.
Striped bass were definitely sluggish during the heat spell. Schoolies took top water poppers, some soft plastics, and sea worms early or late in the day, while live eels tempted more than just a few of the larger class of bass. As temperatures dropped and humidity lowered, there was a noticeable increase in feeding along the offshore reefs and few of the boulder fields. Southwest, Charles, North Rip, Mulberry Point to Goose Rocks, and the Outer Beacon had some lively spurts of activity.
The porgy (scup) bite continues along the jetties, wharves, and docks—wherever one would find a hump, reef, or rock pile. These good eating scrappers have recently trimmed down a bit, but don’t let that fool you. They are eager to take almost anything dropped in their direction, yet generally prefer sea worms, clams, squid, and even some scented baits and small jigs. Fluke season has another month to go and it could be a good one. Currently, snappers and spearing are driving their feeding, generating more inshore activity. Drifting rigs with those combinations coupled with squid is proving deadly. Fishing Six Mile Reef, south of Faulkner’s, Long Sand Shoal, and Mud Bottom are just a few spots that have been productive. The most lucrative spots for sea bass have still been in areas with depths around 100 feet. Shallower will yield much smaller fish as they begin to spread out.
Freshwater lakes and ponds are seeing rather robust largemouths that are inhaling top waters during the early and late times of day. Pickerel are still aggressive, catfish are biting, walleye are deep, perch are feeding on worms, and sunfish are hot.
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