Kicking Off Summer With Memorial Day and Old Glory
May slipped by, and suddenly, Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) is at our doorstep. The day that America honors the men and women who died while serving in our military had its first national celebration on May 30, 1868, at Arlington National Cemetery, where both Confederate and Union soldiers were buried. We, as a nation, hold this solemn day near and dear and never forget its true meaning.
Memorial Day is also the unofficial first day of summer when we kick off a new season. We come together in celebration while, at the same time, fish congregate with similar intentions in mind. They, like us, return in groups to many of the same grounds and are greeted with an enthusiastic welcome by fishers. The actual timing might vary depending on water temperatures and conditions. However, year after year, season after season, fish return to our waters that have, for the most part, treated them well.
Species after species trickle in as they come from faraway places. They do not drive, fly or hitch a ride but, in one way or another, arrive. The energy they spend comes from water’s fuel — other fish or sea creatures that they consume to refill their tanks. For the most part, the routes are the same except for new obstacles that might have cropped up — nets, traps, hooks, wind farms, and the like. Nevertheless, they will overcome and will arrive.
Unfortunately, many are lost during their long round-trip journey and their seasonal stay. Fortunately, this is noted and remembered. Many fishers take solace in the fact that the marine fishing community does pay tribute to those lost in the way of advocating and putting forth conservation measures to ensure a stronger and healthier fishery.
So as we kick off another Memorial Day holiday weekend, remembering and having a good time at the barbie and on the water, take a momentary break from fishing to say a prayer and salute Old Glory (name of the American flag flown by Tennessee sea captain, William Driver in the 1800s) for all those service members lost throughout the years while protecting our freedoms.
On The Water
High pressure continued to build before shifting south of the area as a cold front approached from the north and moved through the region. High pressure then built from the Great Lakes prior to the weekend and then tracked offshore. The week saw sun and dry weather with some wind as a frontal system approached from the west, bringing unsettled conditions with increased humidity, some rain, and more wind. Daytime air temperatures rose from lows around 40-50s to the mid-60-70s. Long Island Sound water temperatures notched up to the mid-50s and better, depending on depth and location. Gusty winds and choppy seas moderated as more fishing opportunities were created with the influx of fish.
For now, striped bass is the primary marine focus of shore and boat fishers. Flooding daytime and evening tides have been favorable for bait and artificial fishers casting or maneuvering small vessels near shore. High on the list is always the eye-opening throwback cow, but the way the season is shaping up, the steady schoolie action is bringing back fishers tide after tide. This past week, topwater plugs, soft/hard swimmers, seaworms, and clams caught a good number of linesiders. More of the nearshore reefs and rips saw action where heavier jigs and spoons were top producers. Lower tidal river, bay, beach, and estuary fish were aggressively slurping up soft live baits (eels, worms) and jigs tipped with strips or twister tails. This fishery is active and also chowing down on peanut bunker and herring that are available forage.
Fishers looking for some adrenaline-rushing action will find just that when hooking into a muscle fish like a large weakfish or sizable, toothy bluefish. They are both here in the Sound and have been running through The Race. A variety of fresh or once-live baits, as well as an assortment of artificials, have been producing for those fishers willing to put in the time. Balancing that with the fight and end-game prize, one will find the effort was more than worth it! Weakies (sea trout) can be caught from mid-Sound to the tidal rivers as they enter for their spring run.
No doubt, the wait for black sea bass to open in CT waters (May 19) has been keeping fishers on edge, but the time has come. Winds may be a bit gusty; however, seas should remain calm enough, and rain showers should not pose any problems. Both air and water temps look as though they should line up to offer some good fishing. Hi-Lo rigs, jigs, squid, and heavy enough weight to reach the bottom is pretty much all that is needed to hook into some nice knotheads feeding down below (limit: 5 at 16”).
It is not quite time for Scup Fever; however, there are some good slab examples of porgy (scup) out on the reefs. Now is the time to be looking for those dinner plate-size trophies that will eagerly take seaworms, squid, clams, and some of those durable artificially scented strip baits. There is not much to them, but they are long-lasting and pack enough scent to attract the most picky fish — of which porgy is not one of them.
Flounder hunters are coming up with catches. Winter flounder catches are being made mostly on seaworms, clams, and mussels. Start looking for blackbacks as June approaches. For summer flounder (fluke) doormats, drift the 90 to 100 foot gradients with heavy bucktails and squid and a prime spearing teaser. Closer to shore and just in time for Memorial Day weekend, large striped sea robins showed up! Fluctuating water and air temperatures are putting hiccups in the way of blue crabbers and crabs. Even so, there are some small point-to-pointers being hand-lined and trapped in the rivers.
Inland trout stockings continue, with many waters getting additional fish regularly. Water flows, levels, and conditions vary throughout the state due to limited rainfall. Nevertheless, fishing remains good in the stocked rivers and streams with less pressure. Catches of rainbows, brookies, browns, and tigers have been respectable — many of which had some girth. Scented baits, inline spinners, swimmers, and natural baits are obvious choices that generate attention. Largemouth and smallmouth bass action is very good in lakes and ponds but a bit more challenging due to growing vegetation. Spinnerbaits, jigs, cranks, and soft plastics (worms) have been the ticket. Pickerel, perch, crappie, sunfish, etc., are all feeding!
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, 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.