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To some, oyster toadfish belong to a group that only a mother could love. However, others find this fish fascinating. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Jake Gavin, 5, of Madison caught and released his very first striped bass while fishing off Clinton. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Caleb Rogers of Guilford hooked into this bluefish when trolling off Westbrook. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
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For all of you who think a sea robin is freakish, then you have not met up with a snappy-jawed, completely grotesque oyster toadfish (Opsanus tau). Its large flat head has a mouth full of strong teeth, comes complete with warts, and has spines on the gill covers. If that were not enough to cause a yuk-filled expression, then its mucous-covered body and distinct smell just might do the trick.
These foot-long critters live on oyster reefs and in bays, as well as in sandy, rocky, muddy, and vegetated bottoms. They even lie motionless in hidden hollow rock shelters, waiting for unsuspecting prey that may include worms, amphipods, crabs, mollusks, squid, and small fish. Their strong teeth and jaws are easily capable of crushing the hard shells of mollusks—thus their nickname, oyster cracker.
Fishing for them is not considered a popular pastime event. However, this is the time of year when a fisher is liable to hook into one of these creatures while fishing the Long Island Sound area. They spawn from April through October in shallow bays, after which the males guard the nest and then continue to guard the young for three- to four weeks after they hatch.
Oyster crackers are known to survive out of water for a lengthy period, are squishy, a bit tough to dress, and a favorite food of sharks. Oh, by the way, their white-side fillets and cheeks are not bad tasting, once you get past the things mentioned above.
On the Water
As August begins to settle in, more schools of Atlantic menhaden have surfaced in many of the harbors. Inshore Long Island Sound water temperatures have been averaging around the mid-70s with rather mild sea conditions interrupted by a few periods of gusty winds. In addition, humidity has been up, setting the stage for scattered rain that didn’t chip away at fishing to any degree.
Varying sizes of bluefish from harbor blues to choppers are being caught near those bunker schools, offering up some topwater action. Others, though, are biting on chunks, jigs, and flashy spoons that are cast near the rip lines or trolled by them. It appears that with the influx of bunker, more blues are coming into the Sound compared to last season. We will have to wait and see if this carries through until the end of the season. So far, they’re not problematic to the striper or porgy (scup) fishers.
Although the heat has driven some bass to cooler waters and prompted striped bass enthusiasts to fish both the early and late-day tides, there have been some cows caught in the creeks and harbors. First timers and seasoned fishers have gotten into the act and succeeded in making catches at popular spots like Six Mile Reef, Faulkner Island rips, Crooked S’s, and Brown’s. Live eels have been good producers, as have live-lining bunker, chunks, jigs, floating, and sinking plugs.
If you are looking for fluke, then mix up the depths you are fishing. Doormat-size fish are being caught in around 100 feet, while fish in the mid-20-inch range are being hooked closer to shore and in some lower tidal rivers. Here and along the beaches, be prepared to release plenty of shorts. Bucktails and squid, hi-lo’s, teasers, spearing, and smelt are good options. Check out Six Mile, Mud Bottom, Long Sand Shoal, The Waves, and deep drift spots south of Faulkner’s.
Porgy remain a hot topic as they are being caught both on and offshore. The reefs and rock piles are stacked and these scrappers are taking squid, clams, scented bio-degradable baits, small jigs, and sea worms when available. Due to overcrowding and closures of the state beaches, the overflow is putting a crunch on many shoreline communities where parking has become problematic. Look for signs limiting parking and always leave only your footprints behind. Regardless, fishing below the high water line is perfectly legal; getting there may be an issue.
Black sea bassers are still finding fish, but the bite slowed. There are still plenty of the small variety around, however, finding worthy catches requires deep, cool water. Our common sharks are here, along with a few visitors showing up. Sand sharks in the four- to five-pound range are not uncommon. Bottom fishers are also hooking into a few blackfish, northern kingfish, skate, and even oyster crackers (also called an oyster toadfish).
The last of Captain Morgan’s Day On The Flats fly fishing clinics for 2019 is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 14. Meet and work one-on-one with three certified, highly skilled, and experienced instructors on Long Island Sound to enhance your fly fishing adventures. Space is limited. Call 203-245-8665 or stop in the shop to register. The cost of $225 includes lunch and beverage.
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 reel repairs, 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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