It’s the Fishing Season to Lend a Helping Hand
Striped bass like the one recently caught and released by Sean Callinan of Madison are increasing in size as they migrate into the Sound. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
A good example of social distancing displayed by David Levett of Guilford while he caught and released this Farmington River rainbow trout. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Stefan Wexell of Clinton hooked into this colorful brook trout while spin fishing the Hammonasset River using scented eggs. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
It wasn’t too long ago when fishing secrets were earned. Prized fishing holes were discussed in code. Heck, even when contest fishing on one of the offshore islands, striped bass were buried in the sand so as not to raise attention of the casual observer or the seasoned competitor.
Those were the days before social media, the days of word of mouth, before comments traveled at light speed. Before all of this virus stuff. Probably the main reason for such secrecy was that a fisher’s secret spot was just that—a secret. Swearing on the last bite of a donut didn’t mean much considering that the one entrusted with such important information told a close friend...and so on.
This typically resulted in your treasured, inconspicuous tiny dot on a chart becoming public knowledge. As such, it eventually became too crowded even for you to fish it, forcing you to search out another secret spot, followed by a solemn oath to never divulge it. Of course, that never happens and so the cycle continues.
Today, in this bizarre time of uncertainty, a strange phenomenon is unfolding. People are sharing. Fishers are becoming more free with their secrets and offering a helping hand with suggestions and, yes, even divulging a secret spot or two just to make someone’s life a little easier. Occasionally, pointing to a chart or inland map or even offering the best way to fish a location becomes an added bonus.
Often, it’s the encouragement and guidance that are appreciated even more than the actual information supplied. Ultimately, if fish are caught, all the better. We see this exchange in the shop, along the beaches, and on the water. Even if giving up that special spot is not an option, if you see someone struggling to catch a fish, think about giving them a helping hand—from a safe distance, of course.
On the Water
Spring downpours finally let up enough to usher in warmer weather accompanied with lighter showers. Daytime air temperatures hovered around 60 degrees as more sun broke through and warmed the tidal rivers, while the warmer Gulf Stream water filtered into the Sound, raising water temps to 48 degrees. Seas also calmed down from previously forecasted craft warnings, from four- to five-foot seas to less than a foot, making for more pleasant fishing conditions.
Striped bass fishers continue to notice an increase in overall sizes of fish caught. In addition to our holdover fish spreading out throughout the Sound, more migrating linesiders are showing up in local waters. Check for signs of sea lice or tracking tags generally placed by the dorsal fin for sure signs indicating a transient fish.
The majority of striped bass are being caught on artificials including flies, while many fishers choosing to soak bait have had good results. With more fish feeding, catches and releases have climbed, but not to the level of previous years, except for the class of schoolie bass. Remember that the new slot limit for keeper striped bass is 28- to 35 inches. In order to protect and conserve the species, any other size must be immediately released unharmed.
Since the spring blackfish (tautog) season is now closed, the only other worthwhile action on the Sound amounting to fresh food on the table is winter flounder. Small boaters and shore goers with access to harbor channels and bays with refreshing aerating water and sandy or clean mud bottoms are holding flatties. Sea worms, clams, and mussels, along with dropping a chum pot to the bottom during a tidal flow, are keys to a successful day. With all of the recent rain, early blue crabs have taken a less than active stance, although the season did officially opened on May 1. For some crabbers, this could be a promising year both for catching crabs and shell fishing.
It was a good week for native brook trout. Catches of these beauties have been robust, especially in waters held close to the vest, as well as those designated management areas. Overall, trout catches and releases have remained very good. Combinations of rainbows, browns, and brookies are biting on naturals (worms and grubs), scented baits, hard and soft lures, and flies. Water levels have been up and flows fast, but they should moderate with the upcoming improved conditions.
Lakes and ponds continue to see a surge in activity. Certain stocked waters are producing trout from the deep holes while trolling. A limited number of shore casters are seeing results when baitfish are chased into shallower water. The large- and smallmouth bass bite are good, pickerel are highly active, black crappie and perch are liking small jigs and worms, catfish are feeding on the bottom, and carp are coveting the shallow waters of main rivers. Anglers are still looking for the pike bite to pick up.
The shop’s annual trout contest will take place on Saturday, May 16. 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 and group numbers monitored as per recommended guidelines. 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, 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...