Traditional Trout Opening Day Now Known as Catch-and-Keep
Saturday, April 8 at 6 a.m. marks the beginning of the catch-and-keep season for trout anglers, ending the first year of an early catch-and-release period. How many of the initially stocked trout will survive to see this date is yet to be determined. The first trout out of the hatchery trucks tend to school before acclimating to their new surroundings and spreading out and are often heavily targeted.
Likewise, it usually does not take long before ospreys and eagles start to show off their prowess by maneuvering into position and extending their talons as their intense focus hones in on a trout for a catch-and-grab exhibition. Sooner or later, anglers fishing stocked waters will bear witness to events such as these.
Occasionally, an angler will fall victim to one of those birds of prey, even snatching a hooked bass while being reeled into shore. When that happens, expressions and shout-outs are priceless.
If feeding birds give away locations when and where trout are stocked, it does not take long for word to get out — especially with the advent of social media. Eager anglers are quickly drawn to the hot spots, whereby cast after cast is made to lure these fresh fish.
Perhaps the early 46-day catch-and-release season will take some of the fishing pressure off. On one hand, releasing the stocking information is public information. On the other hand, it could invite the misdeeds of the lawless.
Tradition is hard to break when, over a period of years, families and friends have always met at their favorite fishing hole or early morning breakfast spot to renew old times or to get their campsite set up. Some still adhere to that same calendar tradition which is now designated as the beginning of catch-and-keep rather than the opening day of trout season.
Gearing up has even changed. The week or two leading up to the official opening of trout season was filled with hustle and bustle, info gathering, and making plans. Now it is more spread out and weather dependent without the urgency of getting ready for the big event and obtaining fishing licenses.
Anglers are still gearing up for catching those prized rainbow, brook, brown, and tiger trout but more at their own leisure — notwithstanding the fact that many prized fish have already been hooked due to the new no closed water policy the state has adopted. Be that as it may, inland fishing activity has been on quite a ride — especially where trout are concerned.
On The Water
High pressure built near the Mid-Atlantic coast and passed south before proceeding offshore. A warm front then worked its way in, bringing with it spring-like sunny weather in excess of 50 degrees that passed ahead of a trailing cold front that stalled, making room for the following unsettled weather in the form of clouds and rain for our area. Long Island Sound nearshore water temperatures remained in the low 40s as periodic gusty winds kicked up some salt spray and tolerable waves in between the more pleasant days.
As each week passes, more and more trout are being stocked in rivers, lakes, and ponds throughout the state. Water flows and levels vary depending on northern snow melt, rainfall, dam releases, and runoff. A mixed blend of rainbow, brook, brown, and tiger trout are being caught, including seeforellens that have been released in selected trout management lakes.
These fish have been responding aggressively to natural and scented baits, inline spinners, swimmers, and flies (nymphs, streamers, dries) on any given day, but especially before an impending weather/barometer change. A four to six-pound test spinning setup or a 5 to 6 weight fly rod is ideal for this time of year, with a length to fit the water fished. Ospreys are showing up so that ought to tell you something.
Inland waters have been offering very good opportunities with reference to access and fishable waters due to the lack of ice and early spring weather conditions. Stocked trout are not the only active species. There are searuns, Atlantic salmon, largemouth, and smallmouth bass to consider, as well as aggressive hefty pickerel, black crappie, yellow perch, catfish, bullheads, carp, some northern pike, sunnies, etc.
Many of the lakes, ponds, and upper tidal rivers are beginning to open up for the season’s local bass tournaments. It might seem early to some anglers but the pre-spawn season appears to be telling a different story. Check out the warmest part of your favorite water by a feeding brook or shallow weed line, flipping a jig, fluttering a spinnerbait, working a crank/jerkbait or soft plastic.
For the most part, The Sound remains relatively quiet to the eye. But subsurface, baitfish are giving a different impression to the observant. The high tide line is also revealing some of the bottom’s secrets as clues to forage wash up on shore.
It is a little early for birds of prey to be diving for menhaden but not too early for harbor seals to be munching on herring and anything else that fits their menu. Meanwhile, spring blackfish (tautog) season opens this Saturday, April 1, so be ready and swing by the shop for rigs, jigs, hooks, etc., for the opening.
Since we are getting repeated questions regarding some of the new inland regulations most affecting the average angler, it bears repeating a few of the early springtime prominent ones concerning trout. FYI, from March 1 until 6 a.m. on the second Saturday of April, it is catch-and-release only. Additionally, in tidal waters and tributaries, the daily limit is two trout at a 15-inch minimum length, while trout management lakes are open through the second Saturday of April to a daily limit of 1 trout at 16 inches or better.
Fly fishing: an 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.
CT Marine Recreational Regulations set for 2023:
Black Sea Bass: Minimum length: 16 inches. Open season: May 19 to June 23; July 8 to Dec. 1. Season closed: June 24 to July 7. Bag limit: five fish.
Porgy (Scup): Minimum length: 10.5 inches for boat anglers; 9.5 inches for shore anglers. Open season: May 1 to Dec. 31. Bag limit: 30 fish. Note: scup minimum length is 9.5 inches at all shore sites, including Enhanced Opportunity Fishing Sites. Check CT DEEP For-Hire regulations.
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, ice fishing, 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 and Authorized Penn Premium Dealer, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better.