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04/10/2023 04:11 PM

Have You Caught A Fish Today?

Spring blackfish (tautog) catches gradually improve as water temperatures rise but shorts outnumber dinner-size fish. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
Blake McGee of Madison caught this impressive career-best rainbow trout in local waters using a pink scented bait. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
Naomi Francois (10) of Guilford caught and released this young largemouth bass along with a bluegill as spring fishing unfolds. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

The second Saturday of April marked the last cool dip in air temperature before we began to experience a warming trend that brought temperatures into the 60s and 70s. Days filled with sun did wonders for the fauna and flora while simultaneously moderating high water levels and river flows.

Like something ingrained in the fishing community — specifically sweetwater anglers — these generations have been accustomed to this day being the opening day of trout season. It is a day that no longer has the same meaning but inevitably will continue to draw traditionalists, albeit fewer of them.

Right now, the talk is all about trout, blackfish, and striped bass. Face north and an angler has the pick of inland rivers, streams, lakes and ponds. Do an about face to the south and sights are on tog and stripers. As the weather changes, so do the fish and fishers. There is more activity with small boaters and land-based anglers hitting the waters while, in many cases, their larger vessels are being readied. As a result, there are more fish being pursued, caught and/or released.

Spring is winning the seasonal battle of weather patterns as it always does. Somehow, this year it seems to have come earlier because of such a mild winter. Everything around us is telling the same story. Colors are changing, wildlife is more noticeable as it breaks out of its winter mode and flowers are blooming. Fish are migrating, coming out of semi-hibernation, setting up beds and feeding.

And now the game starts. Will the same lures work as effectively as before, or will the fish outsmart many of the manufacturers that promote new time tested products? There has to be something to be said about decades-old lures surviving the test of time that gained a reputation as fish getters. Some of these lures, like Goo-Goo Eyes (L. Copper & Co.), Jitterbug (Arbogast) and Original Floater (Rapala) have been imitated but never duplicated.

As forage migrates into different regions (for whatever the reason), the case can be made for lures specifically produced for that area. This probably holds truer for marine fish. Lakes and ponds of inland waters see little in the way of migration patterns other than depth and location, but they do experience effects such as weather, light, water clarity, etc., that would influence lure characteristics and thus, fish catchability. So when selecting a lure to use, do not rule out the old standbys in various color patterns, but also take a look at newer ones that fit the need, action sought, and environment.

Simply put: when it comes to natural bait — live or otherwise, you can count on fish to be on it or nearby. Whether fresh or salt water, temperature, nourishment and clean water are key. If forage is available, predator fish will be as well. Make no mistake about it. When fished effectively, natural baits and artificials can produce hookups if presented and fished similarly to the way they do in nature. Believe it or not, it has more to do with the angler’s skill that really is the difference between catching fish or going fishless. A little thought goes a long way.

On The Water

High pressure moved offshore as a warm front moved northeastward across the region and into northern New England. A cold front then moved in from the north and west before eventually stalling and weakening. The front returned as a warm front as the associated cold front moved through the area. A dominating high pressure returned, with it high 50-60 degree weather mixed with sun, clouds and some spring rain. Long Island Sound nearshore water temperatures maintained mid-40’s and is trending higher with associated gusty winds and 1-2 foot seas.

Inland fishing maintains its edge on the fishing scene, considering the continued stocking of trout and the tug of war going on during this transitional springtime period. Rain, gusty winds and the fluctuations between warm and cold air temperatures have contributed to higher water levels and faster flows. However, those 60-70 degree and better temps are bringing more anglers to rivers, ponds and lakes as word spreads of multi-specie catches.

Although trout (rainbow, brook, brown, tiger) has gotten most of the attention, white perch, seemingly tired of having to take a back seat, have now taken its place on stage. Brackish water is seeing a good bite as these members of the temperate bass family of fishes (Marone Americana) have been biting on small jigs and worms.

In addition to these tasty fish, lakes and local ponds are experiencing good largemouth bass action as the pre-spawn bite gears up. The stretch of unbroken warmer weather is prompting vegetation growth which, in turn, is generating pre-spawn activity and predatory feeding with such fish as smallmouth bass, pickerel and northern pike. Yellow perch, black crappie, catfish and sunfish are all feeding or being fed upon.

Mid-April has a history for increased striped bass activity in the tidal rivers and along adjacent beaches and bays. Soft and hard swimbaits, spoons, small bucktail jigs and natural baits have been successful. Schoolies have been taking various flies worked on an 8 wgt fly rod. Fishing the flood tide has been productive — especially when timing it with the full moon phase. When working the bays, remember that winter flounder season opened April 1, so keeping a light weight spinning outfit handy can offer an alternative to those worms and clams that were used for stripers.

Mild warmer weather, calmer winds and less aggressive seas means more opportunities for the blackfish (tautog) fishers. Easter weekend saw an improvement in catches even though throwbacks were prevalent. The walls should be heating up and, with rising water temperatures, togs should begin to move around better than the opening of the spring season. Although crabs might entice some togs, generally softer baits this time of year are easier to slurp up and make for a quick meal. Increase your catch by chumming.

Fly fishing: 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, 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.

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan

twitter @captmorgan_usa