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Eryk Derda of Guilford is getting in as much fishing as he can, beginning with landing this nice 34-inch striped bass, before heading off to serve our country. Godspeed! (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Fishermen Steve Martins (left) and brother Hunter (right) of Guilford hooked into a school of Long Island Sound black sea bass on one of their recent trips. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
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Fishing Long Island Sound has been invigorating as of late. Waters within the estuaries are energized, creating an inviting habitat for migrating fish. New migrations of striped bass have burst into our waters, while the black sea bass population has really spread out as humpback hunters seek them.
As striped bass move in, they tend to be more predictable. The moon phases, tide fluctuations, time of day, and availability of forage can usually pinpoint where they will be and what they will respond to. Many reefs and subsurface structures are fairly well documented. All fishers need to do is be there in a timely fashion with a natural presentation of bait or artificial lures and fish accordingly.
On the other hand, black sea bass are proving less predictable, as this season is pointing out. These fish, with distinct tendrils and tints of turquoise, have not necessarily been in their customary locations. Perhaps settling into a newer environment or seeking out new feeding grounds has something to do with it. Nevertheless, Centropristis striata (a marine grouper) appears to be more evasive in the beginning of this season.
Considering that their ideal water temperature range is 59- to 64 degrees, it’s no wonder that they burst onto the scene once inshore mid-Atlantic water temperatures warmed. Two important factors to realize when seeking these fish out are depth and water temperature. This spring has been a very wet one. The annual volume of fresh water draining into the eastern part of the Sound equates to about 35 percent until the summer heat reduces it, thereby increasing its salinity.
These conditions can also contribute to the early movement of black sea bass, making them elusive during this period. Seeking areas to fish where the water temperature and depth are within their range, coupled with favorable bottom structure, are important keys to success. Keep in mind that these fish have a voracious appetite, consuming a variety of sea life, and can be caught at anchor or while drifting. So, finding a school may take some effort, but when located, the fishing will be good.
On the Water
Inshore Long Island Sound water temperatures actually hit 60 degrees, although mid-Sound depths remained cooler in the high 40s to low 50s. A double blast of downpours prompted a cool down in air temps, coupled with some fog, before gradually bouncing back. For boaters, that cycle meant challenging seas as gusty winds prompted most to consider alternative plans.
Nevertheless, there were excellent windows of opportunity to wet a line, and those windows produced widespread catches. The black sea bass bite surged with catches reaching four- to five pounds, even though some of the usual spots came up empty. Fish under the 15-inch limit were repeatedly caught closer to shore as fishers threaded the Connecticut-New York line in deeper water for humpbacks that, for the most part, needed to be searched out. Squid was the main bait, used generally in conjunction with hi-lo rigs.
Not to be upstaged, striped bass also put on quite a performance. From stocky schoolies and linesiders to 34-inchers working the craggy shoreline and tidal rivers to the offshore reefs where fish in excess of 40 inches were eager to get into the game, fishers were kept busy. Artificials, live eels, sea worms, menhaden, and herring each had their moments. Drifting the reefs, trolling, and jigging all produced fish.
Scattered bluefish continue to show up with little enough numbers to create any excitement. May fizzled, but June can still offer promise based on Atlantic coast reports and recent bite-offs. Keep a few wire leaders handy. Weakies, however, are still making their presence felt, even though the main spring run has slowed. Try drifting or trolling south of Kimberly Reef on a flood tide.
Fluke remain spotty, although a few decent fish have been caught off Six Mile and by Faulkner’s, while shorts continue to make an appearance on the shoals. For now, dormant hunters are favoring the New York side and Rhode Island waters. We are still looking toward a June winter flounder bite to take hold. Check the inshore channels for the elusive blackbacks that will gobble up a clam sandwich. Moving out to the reefs will put you onto schools of porgy (scup) with more as summer rolls in. And while bottom fishing, take advantage of the recent sea robin bite. These interesting critters have been good eating size at three- to four pounds are and yielding nice fillets.
Prior to the last couple of rain storms, trout rivers did moderate and fishing remained strong, especially in those waters that continued to be stocked for the final spring push. The fish both caught and released exceeded most expectations, but soon, experience will overshadow numbers and skill will become the determining factor for success. A mix of flies, natural baits, and conventional artificials have been working well. Continue to look toward the Trout Management Areas, Wild Trout Management Areas, and trout parks for above-average results. By now, most lakes and ponds are showing off catches of impressive largemouth bass, smallies, pickerel, crappie, yellow perch, and sunnies. Catfish stocking and action is up, the carp bite is improving, and so is northern pike. White perch have been caught, along with American shad in the upper Connecticut River.
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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