One of the Most Useful Christmas Gifts
‘Twas the week before Christmas and this day is unseasonably warm at 55 degrees with a few clouds, a sea breeze with occasional wind gusts to 25 knots and a Sound that is a little wavy. Three and a half miles offshore from Guilford, the Faulkner Island lighthouse stands guard to only a few passing freighters and barges in tow by slow moving tugboats (8-15kts) with diesels — some capable of 3400 hp.
Yet, a hard squint can reveal a lonely fisher or two casting away at a few striped bass that are chasing one of their last meals before water temperatures really tank and they head back up-river. Sooner or later, most likely sooner, readings will fall to the lower 40’s and even to a freezing point, if our mid-west weather finally scores a direct hit on southern New England.
Just keeping an eye on wildlife, like squirrels, that are storing acorns in high trees as opposed to ground or near ground-level is telling. Even spiders are spinning fewer webs, often indicating stormy weather ahead. All of that aside, the weather is still driving some conversations as the holidays rapidly approach and current temperatures sway from fall to winter-like.
Because both marine and inland fisheries have been so fruitful throughout the year, the door was opened to many more gift options for your special fisher. In fact, this year saw many of the same fishers switching back and forth from the sweet to the briny, predicated on weather conditions. So, mixing a little salt and sweet can be a viable consideration. For example, instead of buying lures, hooks, nets, line, etc., or selecting from a slew of accessories dedicated to one fishery or another, try a different approach. Perhaps a tool, specifically chosen for your angler, that can be effective in both salt and fresh water environments would be a great choice.
Simply, a multi-tool can be an excellent option. Quality ones come in a variety of tool option combinations housed in a well-designed housing. Some are simple with a few basic tools while others cover a broader range, depending on focus and jobs most encountered — cut, grip, sharpen, scale, hook remover, driver, and many more. Not only are these one of the most popular holiday gifts but are one of the most useful. It is almost like giving multiple gifts in one nice neat package. An added benefit is that these tools are handy, compact and can easily become part of one’s (EDC) every day carry. So, give one a thought.
On The Water
Frosty and cold gave way to high pressure that moved across the waters as it headed northeast. An extensive low pressure frontal system with rain then approached and exited east before another high pressure preceded a second low pressure system that passed near and just south of the area. High pressure briefly returned with temps into the mid-50’s before another low system with mixed precipitation and gusty winds dropped daytime temps into the 40’s and near freezing at night. Meanwhile, sea conditions varied from calm to wavy with accompanying sea spray as nearshore water temps hovered around the mid 40’s.
There is little doubt winter is on its way but every time it peeks around the corner, air and water temperatures claw their way back. Many marinas are nearing storage capacity, most power stations have been shut down and bubblers are being set up and tested in designated slips under a backdrop of white shrink wrapped vessels. Yet, nearshore water temperatures remain close to 49 degrees, which is about the average for the last ten years.
Although, these temps may be ok for some species of fish and a bit lower than it was one year ago (49.14 degrees), swimming in it can be problematic considering our body is comfortable at 98.6 degrees. Any prolonged stay in cold water, such as 49 degrees, comes with the threat of hypothermia and that should be a serious consideration for anyone venturing out in a small vessel, kayak or paddle board.
Whether looking to take advantage of striped bass heading to their upriver holdover grounds or traveling to feed in and out of the Sound’s waters, precautions should be taken — especially this time of year. A few basic rules to follow are: Notify someone of your intended departure point including anticipated time of return; Observe the ‘Buddy System’; Wear a personal flotation device (PFD); Carry and protect your ‘charged’ cellphone in a watertight case; Pack additional safety gear (first aid kit, change of clothes, flare gun, whistle, air horn, flashlight, rope, waterproof matches and tape, emergency paddle, extra drain plug, etc.); Some form of ID and contact phone number. Your fishing gear provides recreation and enjoyment. The rest can save your life!
Unless on board a for-hire vessel or head boat looking for offshore black sea bass, scup, cod or pollock, one is likely to be more interested in pursuing striped bass found nearshore or feeding on herring migrating up one of the key tidal rivers. Additionally, there is a shot at local winter flounder or white perch. Beyond that, it is all inland where open trout waters are producing. Broodstock Atlantic salmon are getting attention and largemouth bass, pickerel, pike, catfish and panfish are taking both live, scented baits and artificials. As we approach the holidays, it is getting closer to think about the ‘Feast of the Seven Fishes’ and which of the species (typically including salted cod, shellfish, clams, squid, conch, etc.) you would want to lay out for your family and guests.
Fly Fishing: Great Stocking Stuffer! Booking inland and marine fly fishing lessons for 2023 with World Fisher, certified Master Fly Fishing Casting Instructor and Fishing Lodge Director. From trout, salmon, steelhead and sea-run browns to striped bass, bonefish, permit and tarpon, etc., techniques learned and honed will improve your fishing.
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 your Christmas Holiday gift shopping including the latest gear, flies/fly fishing, rods/reels, clam/crabbing supplies, fishing trips/lessons, 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 and Authorized Penn Premium Dealer, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better.