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Proud Gunnar Smith, 10, visiting from New York, landed his first porgy (scup) while fishing Branford waters. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Age has no barrier for longtime fisher and Guilford resident John Conroy, 80, who landed this fine 5.15-pound black sea bass. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
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Whether you are a first-time fisher, a well-experienced salt, or somewhere in between, Long Island Sound offers an outstanding recreational fishery. Its estuaries are great spawning grounds for various species of fish, while the blue crabbing can be quite fruitful. The Sound itself has such a vast array of finfish that a fisher can literally fish an entire day by only adjusting his or her gear, terminal tackle, lures, and bait to the conditions.
Popular species during the summer months include striped bass, bluefish, fluke, black sea bass, porgy (scup), weakfish, snapper blues, sea robins, small sharks, and blackfish (tautog). The list goes on. Some of these are best to fish during an ebbing or flooding tide, others during a high or slack one. Water temperature plays a part and, like us, fish will generally move to a cooler and more moderate zone when it’s warm.
Conserving energy is paramount with most species, so the warmer it gets, be prepared to fish harder and with more finesse. Striped bass is a good example. However, speedy fish like bluefish have a more efficient circulatory system, enabling quicker oxygen replacement, so that warmer water is not as much of a deterrent.
What draws crowds are bluefish feeding frenzies the likes of which we haven’t seen much of in the past few seasons. Snapper blues are another crowd pleaser when running strong. Beaches, bridges, and breakwaters can easily be overrun as these little critters with an attitude attack poppers, lures, and shiners.
However, what really puts a smile on a fisher’s face is the porgy bite. These tasty scrappers are easy and fun to catch, and you don’t need much moving water, complicated gear, or fancy rigs like when fluke fishing. When porgy bite, there is little doubt that a fish is hooked. Some fishers find that a porgy can be a good predator bait, but most just enjoy the meal they provide. So, with all the fish available to catch in the Sound, go out, catch a few, and return unharmed those not destined for the table.
On the Water
Long Island Sound inshore water temperatures have been averaging around 71 degrees as summer conditions take hold. Haze, early fog, and calm seas, along with the occasional shower, sure change the makeup for those wetting an early line. July 17 brought on the Full Thunder Moon, which cranked up fishing action for most species. That should continue as long as no heat wave develops and the weather cooperates.
Striped bass fishing took an interesting twist during the week. Bass were stacked on a few inshore reefs when the bite turned on, but only for a very short time, before suddenly shutting down and moving on. Schools of menhaden were around, yet only spotty catches were made trolling chartreuse bucktails. Live eels definitely had their moments. Sizes of bass caught did increase over the previous week as reefs attracted more bait but fishers worked for their catch.
Nevertheless, the schoolie bite continued along the shoreline, egged on by more smaller baits showing up. However, catches slowed and were more intermittent as water temps climbed. One point to remember is when releasing your catch, do it quickly with the preference of not removing the fish from the water. Letting a fish flop around on the ground or cockpit or being out of the water for a prolonged period of time only ensures that it won’t survive upon release.
Weakfish catches were notably up by Six Mile, Kimberly, and Faulkner’s as they headed west. Small baits, jigs, and trolling rigs had the best results. Working the bottom third of the water column produced the best results. Black sea bass catches in the four- to five-pound range and in around 90-foot-plus depths were made as more fish moved to cooler deeper water. Although catches remain good, they did slack off a bit compared to previous weeks. Squid and hi-lo rigs are still good bets.
Fluke catches, on the other hand, have increased with more fish in the 24-inch range being caught. Some keepers were caught from shore, along the beaches, and in the lower tidal rivers, although most of the good catches have come when drifting the offshore reefs and shoals with squid, scented swim baits, and belly or side strips. Porgy catches have surged all along the shoreline. This family favorite is not only a good introduction to the young fishers, but is also fun and food fare for the experienced ones. The simplest of gear and rigging will get the job done. While fishing the bottom, expect to catch a sea robin or two and even a sand shark. And for those blue crabbers, now is the time to hit the banks, pilings, and estuaries.
Fly Fishing Clinic
Last chance to register for our fly fishing event that’s taking place on Saturday, July 20 on one of Long Island Sound’s picturesque flats, where heavily experienced and knowledgeable certified Fly Fishing International instructors will work on a one-to-one basis. The event takes place from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The cost of $225 includes lunch, beverages, and a free drawing for private lesson. Call the shop at 203-245-8665 or stop in to sign up.
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. In the interest of protecting the species, starting on Sunday, Sept. 1, and pending new 2020 regulations, the shop will no longer weigh striped bass (Morone saxatilis) in excess of 40 inches (head tip to tail tip), but will still accept on-the-water catch-and-release photos.
For all things fishy including fishing trips, 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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