Straight from the Rake
Some of best months to shellfish for sweet, tasty Long Island Sound clams and oysters occur during late fall through mid-winter. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Thumbs up to Melina Metaxas of Madison for outdoing the boys on board by hooking this nice end-of-the-season striper on an eel, along with several ‘togs. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Dressed in their winter garb, Guilford and Madison vessels are nestled together until next year now that the sun sets earlier with each passing day. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Who can resist a plate of absolutely fresh bivalves plucked from the cool waters of Long Island Sound? If you live by the shoreline within close proximity to recreational shellfish beds, then the question is rhetorical. Aside from a few unfortunate individuals who are shellfish intolerant, the answer is generally an overwhelming, “No one I know!”
A quick observation of appetizers served at popular local restaurants will invariably consist of some sort of seafood—mostly clams, oysters, steamers, or mussels prepared to order. Lemon, spices, and the special house recipes definitely enhance their taste, although I generally like mine unadulterated. However, there is something to be said for those bivalves that are plucked from the beds and are consumed in short order. That is about the freshest and tastiest you can eat!
In order to accomplish this, shellfishers can determine the date and time of an optimum time to go clamming and then plan their meals accordingly. Hitting the beds in a timely fashion allows you to select a bed from which to cull and acquire a select catch. Not only will the catch be fresher, but each and every one caught can be inspected to your liking before it’s eaten or cooked.
There is a little bit of truth to the common lore that suggests oysters should only be eaten during months whose names have the letter R. The only truth to that is that months with the letter R are, by and large, the coldest months of the year. May through August are typically the warmest ones. Regardless of whether we are referring to oysters or other bivalves, they should always be kept cold. In the warmest months, it is doubly important to ice them down to avoid overheating and prevent them from dying. To avoid shellfish poisoning, never attempt to eat a clam that has perished or if its shell has partially or completely opened, and avoid shellfishing in restricted areas.
Throughout the years, we have worked with novice and experienced clammers alike to make their shellfishing not only productive, but pleasurable. From the rake to the bake, selecting the best gear suited to the needs at hand is paramount to a satisfying and fulfilling outing. With a little bit of a new knowledge from a hands-on demonstration, your next bite into a delectable bivalve is only the length of a clamming rake away. Besides, what’s better than harvesting nature’s bounty from nearby waters, in many cases, from your own backyard? The answer of course, is eating and sharing it with others.
On the Water
Three days of hit or miss with Winter Storm Ezekiel pretty much put the final push on the shoreline marinas. Fishers to the end finally acquiesced and got their last casts in before pulling the plug. Even the last of the friends whose vessels were still operable had to bid adieu until next season.
Inshore Long Island Sound water temperatures still registered 45 degrees in places. They only fluctuated a degree or two during the cold spell until temps briefly jumped to the low 50s, after which the second Arctic blast brought them back down. Rain and a few more flurries followed, rounding out the week. Anyone still having striped bass fever was able to connect with some river, shoreline, and a few reef fish. For the most part, though, plan on working a bit harder and keeping gear on the lighter side.
Although porgy (scup) and black sea bass are in play through the end of the year, it is doubtful that more than a handful of recreational fishers will take advantage of the rest of that season, head boats aside. Winter flounder might be more attainable for those able to launch their duck boats in some of the known inshore bays. Water temperatures are currently within their optimum range and the season does wind down on Tuesday, Dec. 31.
Our southern inland waters are still soft and probably will not develop into ice safe enough to break out jigging sticks and tip-ups. However, our open trout and salmon rivers have been getting a workout, calling for many more casts than hookups since action is slowing down the more water temps drop. If you are a searun trout fanatic, consider checking out the lower parts of key searun tidal rivers like Eight Mile, The Connecticut, Farm, Hammonasset, Mianus, Saugatuck, and Whitford, as well as Latimer, Oil Mill, and Whitford brooks. Tip: Fish slow.
Shellfishers ought to keep track of the tides between now and the upcoming holidays. Weather cooperating, there should be good clamming tides just in time to trim the table with plenty of fresh bivalves. A combination of oysters, cherry stones, and quahogs, served fresh on the half shell or baked, will surely be an irresistible and welcome appetizer.
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 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...