Experience Near-Shore Fishing at its Best
Vincent Pascarella of Branford weighed in this nice pair of six-pound blackfish (tautog) during the 31st annual Veterans ‘Tog Tourney. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Hats off to Branford resident Jon Flagge for pulling this nice bass out of the lily pads after it took an imitation frog. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Now is the time to slip into your small vessel and quietly work the shoreline for striped bass. While fishers are converging on the reefs and walls to crab for ‘togs, these strips of beaches remain quiet and mostly void of people, especially during the week. Ideal spots to fish, many of those locales are tucked between a pair of protective rock jetties, making a perfect area for baitfish like peanut bunker to seek cover.
On certain mid-fall days, when water temperatures drop, schools of this forage leave tidal rivers on an ebbing tide, often settling into troughs formed laterally to beaches. On windy days, these areas are relatively calm, being on the lee of an easterly or westerly blow. This is when fishers can experience one of those feeding frenzies they often read about, but rarely enjoy.
Schools of striped bass and bluefish, grill size and too small to keep, run the beaches and feed incessantly as smaller fish attempt to avoid the onslaught in vain. As the tide subsides, these baitfish get trapped in the troughs, leaving only the vertical cuts and small channels as their only means of escape. Farther water-ward, there can easily be a few larger fish waiting patiently for their fill as the receding tide forces their food in the cuts and into the waiting jaws of adult linesiders.
Whether casting a fly, working a lure, or doing a slow troll, the end result will be the same: a single hit or, in many cases, a double hookup. This is the time when all rhyme or reason is displaced with pure primordial action and offers some of best fishing of the year. So, if you like the challenge of catching striped bass or the non-stop action of blitzing bluefish, the time is now to be on, in, or near the water.
On the Water
Inshore Long Island Sound water temperatures are fluctuating from the high 50s to the 60s and are dropping. Seas and wind have been variable, remaining typical for this time of year, causing fishers to take advantage of good days on the water as they come. Although some weekenders are opting to haul and shrink wrap their vessels, most are cautiously playing it week by week, because they realize that fishing conditions are stretching out. They also realize that the weather can turn quickly, but are betting that won’t happen for a while.
Blackfish (tautog) season is heating up as water temperatures slowly drop. ‘Togs in the 9- to 12-pound range have moved in closer from the offshore reefs, but considering the fishery, that’s not many. The walls have been experiencing good action with mostly smaller fish, as are several of the popular local inshore structures. Whether using crabs on rigs or jigs or even dropping a sea worm, if you are on the spot and deep enough, the chances are good that you will hook up. These fish are cautious feeders and will easily steal your bait or quickly seek the cover of rocks if you not attentive. They are a fun fish to catch, but are sometimes a chore to find.
As bait fish are being flushed from the rivers, striped bass are right there. Lower tidal rivers have been ripe with schoolie action and stripers are being caught from 24- to 27 inches—just shy of the magic number. Troughs along the beaches have also been productive as linesiders chow down on peanut bunker, silversides, and flies. Drifting or casting live eels has also been the ticket as the feeding cranks up. Searching for fish in the 35- to 40-pound range has been a challenge, although a few fish were hooked in the Sound while drifting, jigging, or trolling the offshore reefs. Recently, Faulkner’s has lit up with birds and schoolie blitzes.
Harbor bluefish action has also cranked up with a combination of topwater and subsurface action. They, too, are working along the inshore reefs of the beaches while chasing the peanuts and silversides. Recently, fly fishers have been having sporting fun with 8 weights. Clunkers, jiggers, and trollers have had better success testing the reefs and deep water structure for larger choppers, but results are mixed. A few weakfish happen to be in the mix, although that bite has been varied. Other fish to consider are hickory shad and white perch.
Black sea bass and porgies (scup) are still in the game, providing good action for fishers who choose to switch off the ‘togs for a tide. Between those three, freezer space may become limited as the more popular reefs and bottom structures get a workout. Fish with crabs, clams, or squid.
Trout fishing has picked up in the Trout Management Areas and trout parks, along with recently stocked waters like The Mill River, Quonnipaug, Gardner, Rogers, Chatfield, Cedar, Pequabuck, Long, and Black ponds. Largemouths are improving, smallies are better, some pike are being caught, carp and catfish are biting, perch are good, and pickerel are varied.
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...