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05/15/2023 01:33 PM

Take Your Catch Rate Up Another Notch

Bobby Cifarelli of Branford reeled up this scrappy 3.04-pound porgy from one of the deep offshore reefs. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
Chris Brockett of Stockport, NY (formerly of Clinton) had one of his best days fishing, catching a 5 plus-pound smallmouth bass, 3 plus-pound slab crappie, and trout. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
Gator blues returned to The Race and Long Island Sound, feeding on Atlantic menhaden and taking diamond jigs and spoons. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

Is it finesse of the fisher or difference in bait and lure choices that ultimately determine catch results? If we are referring to striped bass, for example, there is little doubt that during spring and fall fishing seasons the bite turns on better than any other time of the year. The rise and fall in water temperature gets the ball rolling as the spawning urge develops, forage comes alive and overall fishing conditions are sparked by migrations.

During these periods, if it acts, smells or sounds/vibrates somewhat like the real deal then fish will generally be all over what is on the other end of the line. Competition for food is great and the necessity to replenish energy that was spent during the spawn or needed in reserve for the long migration is the driving force to feed.

It is not uncommon for fishers active during the same day, time, tide and even location to experience the same results fishing with different techniques, baits and lures. It is understandable during spring and fall, however, when temperatures heat up and fish seek out more oxygenated and cooler water, finesse fishing generally takes over and skill and techniques matter. All the gear, bait and lures will not matter if fished incorrectly.

Conversely, sometimes one cannot do anything wrong. We used to have a fall time contest to see who can have bluefish on the longest. The catch was casting into a bluefish frenzy using a topwater plug with all hooks removed. That was a classic example of less finesse and little skill — but it was fun. The point is that there are times when the book is closed on experience and expertise.

Flip the coin and one will find that porgy (scup) are a completely different case. These aggressive feeders are not coy or cautious. No sooner do they sense live or scented baits, they are all over it. A little on the hook(s) dropped by any reef, hump or rock pile in the summertime and they attack it with a vengeance. Their fight is scrappy and flesh tasty. Finesse and skill are not required unless a fisher is looking for a trophy slab, usually caught in deeper water with larger baits.

On The Water

A weak pressure built from the northwest while a frontal boundary stalled over the Mid-Atlantic. After a frontal wave tracked to the south, high pressure built followed by a high pressure system. A back door cold front approached from the north somewhat affecting weekend weather before moderating into several dry days of 60-70 degree temperatures that even reached near record inland 80 degrees. Nearshore Long Island Sound water temperatures creeped up from the low 50’s to 55 degrees, while winds and seas overall remained relatively calm.

Fishing the Sound and its tributaries continues to crank up as baitfish and migratory species enter their seasonal habitat. Catching schoolie bass in the rivers is almost non-stop as they move throughout the river systems. With the migration in full swing, striped bass over 40 inches have been picked up both nearshore and out on the reefs as some take a turn into the Sound.

The bite has been very good with live bait taking the lead almost neck-in-neck with topwater artificials. Frozen baits like herring and peanut bunker as well as hard/soft swimmers, jigs, spoons and subsurface and sinking flies are good substitutes. Splashing hulls before Memorial Day would be a good thing to do — although, small vessels fishing in skinny water has been paying off during this goods springtime bite.

To some, it may seem early, but nevertheless, weakfish have been making a run through Six Mile, past Faulkner Island and rounding the sandbar in West Haven. Often taking a turn into some of the tidal rivers, catches in the harbors have been taking place. Sizes have been mixed with some rod-benders showing up, taking bait and flies. For those fishing The Race, there have been a mix of them as well as runs of bluefish with shoulders. It is time to keep wire leaders, spoons, jigs and chunks handy. Light gear is picking up smaller fish closer to shore in the 3-5 pound class.

Fluke season opened on May 4th to a 18.5-inch minimum size length and 17 inches for the enhanced fishing areas. No doubt, there are some fluke to be located in deep waters — smaller ones heading to the tidal rivers. Considering that nearshore water temperatures are tapping 55 degrees and rising, catches will only improve, providing stock sizes hold up.

It is a little early for the scup (porgy) bite to ramp up along the shoreline but there are some slabs being caught offshore now that the season is open. For the serious porgy pounders, it would be squid, seaworms and/or clams along with some of the tough artificial scented bait strips that would feed on a reef or hump. In addition, this coming weekend (May 19), black sea bass season opens in CT waters to five fish at 16 inches and runs through June 23 before a brief closure until July 8. It’s a tough pill to swallow for the long weekenders looking forward to their annual 4th of July trip.

Water flows and levels in trout rivers and streams have varied. Some have ripped while others have ranged from moderate to slow and low. For the most part, stocking and fishing those waters has not been an issue. Depending on conditions, the range of baits and methods varied greatly while hooking up continues at an above average pace. Rainbows, brooks, browns and tigers all are in the game with conventional anglers and fly fishers. Hatches have been consistent so dries, as well as nymphs and streamers, are flies to use. Scented baits have been excellent along with inline spinners, swimmers and natural baits.

The time for largemouth and smallmouth bass is now. If it’s a trophy fish you are looking for, then now is the time. The bucketmouths and bronzebacks swim up from their holes into the shallows where the water is warmer and the fish are more active. If you want a good fight on your hands, wet your line. As an aside, aggressive large pickerel, yellow perch, black crappie, bullheads, sunfish, etc., are all feeding. Check out your local watering holes — they will surprise you.

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, 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