2022 Fishing Year in Review
Two of the most notable occurrences affecting the fishing community that transpired in 2022 were the elimination of the traditional Opening Day of trout season, and the high cost of fuel.
On the freshwater side, eliminating Opening Day may have extended fishing time for anglers on many of the otherwise closed inland waters and reduced fishing pressure. However, it did negatively affect the overall socio-economic balance like intra- and interstate travel, related retail services and purchases, lodging, family and friend get-togethers, traditional annual breakfasts, etc., as well as putting an end to a decades-old popular tradition.
On the other hand, the high cost of fuel turned out to be a boon to striped bass fishers. Mid-Atlantic commercial baitfish netters either remained dockside or chose other fisheries to harvest, thereby producing a better financial gain to offset that expense. Those events opened the door for large schools of menhaden to migrate up the coast from the Mid-Atlantic to New England, and into Long Island Sound, virtually unscathed. As a result, catches of below the slot (28-35 inches) and over the slot limit of linesiders were caught and/or released in greater numbers throughout most of 2022 — many nearshore and in skinny water.
There were times when wind and weather conditions were less than optimal as storms brushed us by. Nevertheless, the Sound’s multi-fishery still thrived. Chopper bluefish fed on bunker in many of the lower tidal rivers as well as near shore and mid-Sound. Harbor blues were more plentiful this season, and there were definitely more double-digit blues caught. There were also times that they totally ignored schools of menhaden and just lazily finned on the surface. Like with stripers, blues came down hard on topwaters and gave fly fishers very good runs on surface and sinking flies. Runs of hickory shad did elude that pair of predators as well!
Without a doubt, black sea bass lived up to their ‘eat anything’ reputation. Although squid was a top bait when using either rigs or various hook combinations, they also aggressively took dressed and undressed jigs with or without squid. Porgies, another favorite, did not disappoint! They jumped on sandworms, squid, and even scented/non-scented artificials. From shore or out on most any reef and rock pile, fishing for these scrappy, tasty, saltwater panfish was extremely popular.
Thumbs up for the rest of the bottom fishery! It was a good year for sand sharks, dogfish, striped sea robins, northern kingfish, northern pufferfish — even triggerfish. Spring blackfish (tautog) season kicked off in mild weather but with accompanying and hindering winds. Fall turned out much better, with the majority of togs caught in the 3-5 pound range, many throwbacks and few impressive white chins — mostly all caught on live crabs. Winter flounder had a few dedicated followers that scored some nice flatties on worms and clams — including a few impressive blackbacks while chumming. Some flukers had a good season, while others not so much. Most decent fish (8-10 pounds plus) were caught on rigs, large whole squid or strips, and drifting in deep water. As the season developed, flukers were able to connect with some 5–8-pound fish in a few of the main lower tidal rivers.
The wait was on for our favorite speedsters to finally hit the Sound. Albies finally arrived, darting across rips taking flies and fast retrieving swimming jigs, as well as heavier jigs when they disappeared down in deep water. Most of the good runs hit Block and Montauk waters first, but when they showed up in the Sound, fishers caught them in east, west and mid-Sound.
As ocean water temperatures warmed, the northern movement of Mid-Atlantic and Southern Atlantic fish was ongoing. With each passing season, a few more new and a lot of the same species poke into the sound. Bottlenose dolphins, sea turtles, ocean sunfish (common mola), sharks, a few black and the occasional red drum, cobia, etc., are some that are showing up and gaining notice.
Anglers converged on inland waters once word was out that the trout stocking more than lived up to the rumors. Eventually what waters could be fished, how and which of those trout could be caught and kept or released was learned, it did not take long before anglers hooked into some outstanding breeders. Rainbows, brookies, browns and tigers were reeled in from early spring to late fall and early winter waters. Limited ice along the shoreline pretty much limited any ice season to north of I-95 — although a few lakes and ponds were able to muster up a few ice days.
Largemouth bass got off to an early spring start and stretched the season into December. Artificials (cranks, spinnerbaits, jigs, soft plastics) and live baits caught some prize lake and pond bucketmouth,s while smallies lit up key rivers and lakes with imitation craws and jigs. Jitterbugs, frogs and poppers were winners! Black crappie were stacked up and took small feathered jigs, mini-spinnerbaits, and worms. White and yellow perch were popular species as well as catfish, carp, bullheads, pickerel, northern pike, bow fish, etc. The freshwater fishing scene was hot and a big hit! Anticipation is that both marine and inland fisheries will once again outperform in 2023!
On the Water
Low pressure slowly moved north to the Canadian Maritimes and lingered, as high pressure slowly built from the south and west. Daytime air temperatures hovered around the low to high 40’s as nighttime ranged from the low to high 20’s, while a frontal system brought mixed precipitation and brief higher 50 degree-plus daytime temps. A complex low pressure system threatened southern CT with heavy rain, flooding and high winds, then dropping temperatures into the 20’s from the Arctic blast before daytime temps bounced back up into the 40’s. Meanwhile, Long Island Sound water temps dipped from 45 degrees to 43 degrees as gusty 25-45kt winds from winter storm Elliott churned the waters, raising seas 4-6 feet before moderating to around a foot.
It is the end of December and fishers are still driving around with a rod or two in their vehicles. Granted, inland waters are the main attention grabber with trout and salmon being the main focus. A few anglers are testing the key tidal rivers for local holdover winter striped bass. Looking for that last hookup of the year, some are casting to lakes/ponds for largemouth while fishing other popular locations that hold northern pike, pickerel, catfish, perch and a few additional species. For now though, enjoy the holidays and as we enter 2023, “May your biggest fish of 2022 be your smallest of 2023.” From Captain Morgan and crew, Happy New Year.
CT River Salmon Association 45th annual Dinner to be held on Jan. 14, 2023 at the USS Chowder Pot IV. Live music, social hour, auction (rods, reels, trips, etc.), awards, guest speaker, door prize, mystery wine raffle. African Safari Trip up for bid! Reservation form: ctriversalmon.org or Contact: Tom Chrosniak at 860-519-7451, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Outstanding Opportunity for the experienced or beginner! 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 all things fishy including the latest gear, flies/fly fishing, ice 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.