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11/17/2022 09:58 AM

Where Young Minds Learn About Marine Life

A productive, curriculum-oriented, brainstorming sundown cruise took place on Nov. 3, 2022, aboard the Sound School’s research vessel, Island Rover, that highlighted the Advisory & Consulting Committee, educational staff and students participating in vessel operations. Photo illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan
A tide of togg’n yielded Robert Carranzo of East Haven, this 9.39-pound blackfish (tautog) on a recent fishing trip to Rhode Island. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
Rob Vaccino resides in Westchester County but fished with Bruce Andes of Madison aboard the Dryfly when he hooked up with this 7-pound blackfish (tautog) in the Sound. Photo illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan

This particular late afternoon and early evening could not have been better for an on-the-water meeting. It was as picture perfect as it could be with exceptional calm seas, hardly any breeze (5-knot, southwest wind), a balmy 61-degree November day and a clearly visible setting sun. Scheduled far in advance, the luck of the draw was all on our side and it was time to cast off.

Hosted by New Haven’s Regional Sound School, this was a joint meeting of the Advisory & Consulting Committee, comprised of related industry specialists, educational staff and students participating in vessel operations. For those unfamiliar, The Sound School, located on Long Wharf’s waterfront with its huge well-equipped fishery research facility, offers quite an impressive curriculum centering around marine life.

This unique program can readily lead to employment opportunities and a pathway to a career. Its current selected 343 student body hails from 26 Connecticut Districts who are educated in various disciplines including aquaculture, biotechnology, fin/shellfish production, marine/vessel operations, ocean engineering, environmental & underwater studies including artificial reef construction, etc.

After the typical introductions and professional/employment affiliations, it was time to get to work. Since this was to be a brainstorming session aboard The Sound School’s research vessel, Island Rover, targeting curriculum details on how to best prepare students stepping into the real world of employment, the deck was open for suggestions and comments.

Most notably was a discussion injecting a common sense approach which focused on teaching lifestyle basics that today many school courses overlook or choose not to include. It was brought up that by building upon technical teaching incorporating typical day-to-day occurrences, students would be presented as more well-rounded when their backgrounds are reviewed. Another comment made was how much woke ideology is being stressed in other educational systems at the expense of some of the more basic everyday tools. A key point also emphasized was that this terrific advanced program could be made available to students at no charge through their very own school districts. Nevertheless, it is surprising how few parents and existing students know of this fabulous opportunity that can lead to character building, self-discipline and, eventually, a career in a very forward-moving industry.

As the sun set and the last of the brainstorming ended, a 180-degree turn to the north was made and the bow headed back to home port. The ride back was smooth thanks to the handling of our vessel operator Amarilys. As we motored back, in the distance we saw diving gulls on a school of menhaden. On the edge of that melee was a pair of fishers in a center counsel plugging away at a school of striped bass that, for the most part, had other plans. And with that, the trip came to a peaceful and quiet end as Island Rover was docked and goodbyes were exchanged until our next meeting.

Attending, in part, were Peter Solomon, Sound School Aquaculture Coordinator & Tim Vissel (retired); Marc Potocsky, Sound School Principal; Renee Mercarldo-Allen & Dillon Redman, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Marine Fisheries; Mark Dixon, NOAA; Dr. Mary Beth Decker, Yale University; John Buell, New Haven Harbor Foundation; Gary Dickerson, New Haven Parks; Capt. Kathy Granfield, Veteran Angler Charters, Research, Science Education; Bob Boulware, Island Rover Captain; Students Amarilys Jimenez & Jeniyla Simuel, Vessel Operations; and yours truly, Captain Morgan, CT Recreational Fishing Advisor, Atlantic Stats Marine Fisheries Commission, Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program.

On The Water

Record breaking, unseasonably warm air temperatures finally gave way to a cold front that dropped temps by 20 degrees. High pressure returned briefly before another cold front approached bringing with it remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole and high tides that headed northeast. High pressure gradually built that carried into the week just prior to the weekend before another area of low pressure impacted the area. Meanwhile, Long Island Sound water temps dropped a degree or two from the high of 61 degrees into the high 50s as morning fog persisted, some rain fell, winds gusted, and seas built to 3 feet before eventually calming down.

While the days in November have been adding up, so are the catches of predatory fish like striped bass and bluefish as well as rock dwellers that include blackfish (tautog), porgies and black sea bass. It is the warm water temperatures and availability of forage that keep these fisheries here, within reach and active. Although last call is or has come up for many fishers, especially those with larger vessels, the trailer army, roof toppers and surf casters have been taking advantage of the good days the many fish that have not turned tail.

The latest on the striped bass is that they have not shut down yet nor have they made an end run to their winter holdover grounds. Their shallow water blitzes are still occurring resulting in catches using peanut bunker, live eels, small soft swimmers, swimming jigs and topwater plugs. On less windy days or northerly winds, 9-10 wgt fly rods hook up when casting Clousers, deceivers, half/half’s and small shrimp patterns.

Bluefish are whacking spoons, plugs, topwaters and chunks with most catches coming from near to mid-Sound reefs and structures while remaining weakfish will take a tube or bucktail with a trailer. Albie catches are being made in the Sound but have dwindled to spotty rip runs. The top, bottom and reef fish being caught currently are blackfish (tautog), porgy (scup) and black sea bass. Togs are on whole or partial crabs, porgy and sea bass are on squid. Togs are closer to shore while the better porgy and sea bass are near-to-offshore reefs. This is the time for some real slabs, although in all species mentioned, there still remain enough shorts and smaller fish to snatch your bait away. Dogfish are still plentiful as are blue crabs feeding in the estuaries.

The recent drop in air and water temperatures have not deterred the trout and broodstock salmon bite. Check out the native brook trout waters, the Trout Management Areas and trout parks. Nor have they interfered with the basses, pickerel, catfish, pike, perch, crappie and other panfish foraging in the lakes and ponds.

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 the latest gear, flies/fly fishing, rods/reels, clam/crabbing supplies, fishing trips, licenses/permits and much more, 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.

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan

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