Changing Times on the Water
Eve Benton, 8, of Killingworth hooked into this nice rainbow trout on power bait while fishing at Chatfield Hollow. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
While fly fishing, Dylan Kasperzyk of Killingworth tempted this feeding rainbow trout into taking his neatly presented nymph. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
April 4 would have been the traditional Opening Day of trout season, when crowds of anglers typically hit Connecticut’s inland waters. They would have scoured the aisles of the bait and tackle shops the night before, acquiring all the necessary (and not so necessary) gear, while seeking any inside information on a prime spot or perhaps a lure that looked promising.
This was before the time of social distancing, when the lines were so tight that the smell of freshly cooked bacon from the early morning fireman’s breakfast still exuded from a well-worn fishing vest. Fly fishers with a few flies hooked onto their vest patch even jokingly wondered if the scent would be an attractor or detractor. That was before they really got into a discussion of whether a bugger or bead head nymph might be the ticket.
Early on, as the stocking trucks performed their seasonal task, anglers were already catching fish. Actually, they have been doing so since the executive order of March 24—a full 18 days before the originally scheduled Opening Day. That action did help spread out the number of anglers fishing and certainly curbed what would have been a typically crowded day. However, it did not curb any pent-up enthusiasm for catching trout or the number of exceptional catches made.
There is no doubt that these are challenging times. Careers are being interrupted, education in the schools has been stalled, and travel is minimized. However, people are still continuing to find out what fishing is really all about. They are trolling on the lakes, fishing in ponds, casting to rolling rivers, and drifting calmer streams. It is one outdoor activity that’s putting smiles back in the photos and elevating spirits.
It feels odd that this past Saturday is practically an afterthought when, in the past, it was a tradition that was looked forward to and provided a sense of togetherness. The weather is warmer, streams are clearer, and there are no extremely high water levels to deal with from winter ice dams. Even though the season started earlier and caught many people off-guard, the fishing community has taken it all in stride and now has its act together—perhaps even more so now.
As an added precaution, practice social distancing by reaching out with your fishing rod and, if the tip touches the angler next you, one of you move. It’s the smart thing to do and will certainly be appreciated. Have a safe Passover and Easter holiday everyone.
On the Water
Inshore water temperatures of Long Island Sound have reached 45 degrees and are climbing. Daytime air temps have been bouncing around, as are sea conditions that are going from relatively calm to small craft warnings issued with wind gusts more than 35 knots and waves in excess of five feet. As winds shifted north, inshore waters remained calmer and fishing conditions improved, but only after the offshore storm.
Although some schoolies and a few slot limit striped bass have been feeding along the shoreline, it seems as though they, too, are practicing social distancing of late. That’s pretty strange for a school of fish, but we haven’t seen the same level of activity as we did since the sea conditions got rocky a week or two ago. Once the better weather broke, the bite perked up and made for many a fly fisher’s day.
The seasons for blackfish (tautog) and winter flounder are officially open. ’Tog action was sparse due to the stormy weather and water temperatures, although the flounder fared better in the channels and bays where clean sandy bottoms existed. The warmer temps helped the bite along the walls and jetties. Chumming helped in both cases, and lighter terminal gear added a noticeable advantage since the pickups were generally on the soft side.
What have been the hot zones, though, are the trout and bass waters. Recent trout stockings and the nice weather brought anglers out. Hookups have been steady with some days red hot and others just moderate. Periodic hatches along the rivers like the Hammo, Salmon, Farmington, and Housy turned fly fishing on, even though nymph and streamer fishing still takes the nod. There have been some nice breeders caught on light gear with several others turned over.
Largemouth bass are taking spinnerbaits, jigs, and various crank baits, as well as soft plastics. That activity continues to increase on a regular basis, along with smallmouths, pickerel, perch, and black crappie. The spring run of spawning carp is a fishery that is producing good results for anglers using carp bait concoctions and light gear. Look to the coves for some better pike and white perch.
The date of the shop’s annual trout contest has been moved to Saturday, May 9. Registrations for the 15th annual Codi and Bubba Memorial Trout Contest will continue until then. Fish anywhere. Prizes for the three heaviest trout weighed. Social distancing practiced. 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...