Anglers Respond to Early Fishing Season
Taking advantage of the early fishing season is Madison’s Bill Platt, who landed this 20-inch, 3.74-pound rainbow trout on his vintage fly rod setup. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
A day before the recent fishery closure due to COVID—19, skilled steelhead angler Kelly Corcoran of Boston Harbor, Washington, is shown with one of four landed. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
In an attempt to reduce large crowds and limit the spread of COVID-19, Governor Ned Lamont issued Executive Order 7L on March 24. With a stroke of his pen, Lamont ordered the opening of many lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams to fishing statewide. By opening the fishing season early, the hope is to shrink the large crowds that are typically associated with the traditional Opening Day in April—and, of course, he encouraged social distancing.
Needless to say, this energized the fishing community as many anglers took advantage of the opportunity. Although this was not a total surprise, it did catch many businesses and individuals off-guard. From Washington state, where recreational fishing and shellfishing were temporarily closed by the Department of Fish and Wildlife, to the closure of Oregon’s recreational salmon and steelhead fisheries on the Columbia River, where both states jointly manage the fishery, COVID-19 has had an impact on fishing.
From that point of view, the contrast between the two coasts is stark. At one point, Washington was the epicenter. Now, it is New York. So, the fact that we here in Connecticut can still enjoy one of our favored pastimes is a blessing.
Anglers responded by going fishing and mostly respecting one another’s space. Since many freshwater trout rods are about six feet in length, if you can tap the angler next to you, back off a bit. Some rods are 4.5 feet, while others might be seven feet long, so use good common sense judgment in exercising social distancing.
Conversations pretty much had to do with the fishing at hand, including typical stories of the one that got away. There was a rush on licenses and gear now that some fishers had more time on their hands. To some, it seemed as though the kids just went off to college, only to have unexpectedly returned to the nest. Life is full of adjustments, and fishing has a way of bringing folks together again.
On that note, in an effort to promote the well-being of our community and ensure social distancing, Captain Morgan’s will now issue in-person fishing, hunting, and shellfish licenses only to Connecticut residents (hot spots excluded) living and working within the state and who have not crossed its borders within the past 14 days.
On the Water
Just in time for the weekend, air temperatures briefly hit the low 60s before dipping lower. Long Island Sound inshore temps crept to the 45-degree mark and, although seas kicked up from easterly winds, there were times they laid down as the blow switched from the north. In spite of the occasional small craft warnings, fishers did take the time to fish or rake the beds for clams.
The hot activity came from the sweet water, namely trout fishing. Many of the state’s lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams were stocked, giving anglers plenty of opportunities to catch or catch and release some quality fish. Apparently, opening the season early did spread out the flow of people, thereby reducing crowds. However, due to the number of anglers anxious to take advantage of the early start, it did not shrink the enthusiasm.
Rainbow, brown, and brook trout were caught in a variety of ways and techniques. Spin casters used mixed colors and shapes of scented baits drifted along the bottom as they sought that big breeder hiding in a hole, riffle, or along a bend. Fly fishers scored on mostly nymphs and streamers when a periodic emerging hatch disappeared, along with a change in weather conditions.
Small vessels took advantage of the less-congested lakes and ponds where, even there, slow trollers connected with deep holding trout. Some anglers casting from shore were able to entice a bragger or two either during the early morning or later in day using spoons, swimmers, inline spinners, and a variety of baits. In addition to trout, many of these lakes and ponds generated good activity in other species as well. With water temperatures on the rise, large- and smallmouth bass and pickerel populations became more aggressive. The bass liked twin-bladed spinnerbaits, jigs, and soft plastics, while pickerel did not seem too particular. Black crappie and perch were taking small jigs, and catfish preferred something with more of a scent.
Along the beaches and in the lower tidal rivers, schoolie bass have been more active as water temperatures continue to rise. Linesiders are taking artificials and baits rigged on about a 3/0-4/0 hook. Now would be the time to familiarize yourself with inline circle hooks and the new 28- to 35-inch slot limit now in effect. Also, winter flounder and blackfish (tautog) season opens on Wednesday, April 1.
Register now for the 15th annual Codi and Bubba Memorial Opening Day Trout Contest scheduled for Saturday, April 11. Fish anywhere. Prizes for the three heaviest trout weighed. Five bucks gets you in. Kids under 12 fish free when accompanied by a registered adult. It’s a good cause and donations are always welcome.
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, call the shop at 203-245-8665. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...