Extend National Fishing and Boating Week 2023
Extending National Fishing and Boating Week, which ran from June 3 to 11, benefits fish, fishers, and boaters who spend a good portion of the summer on and in and near the water. Taking the initiative to participate in something new is refreshing, beneficial, and educational. A few top activities for saltwater anglers recommended by National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Fisheries to enjoy will open the eyes of the experienced as well as introduce many newcomers to the world of recreational fishing.
For starters, take someone new to go fishing on one of Connecticut’s Free Fishing Days are coming up on June 18 and Aug. 2. The free one-day license is available through CT DEEP’s online licensing system three weeks prior to each date. Next, consider participating in an effort to reduce marine debris. Debris can be not only an eyesore but also a hazard to navigation — especially in narrow Long Island Sound. Stow trash on your vessel, keep marinas clean, recycle valuable parts/metals, dispose of hazardous materials properly, and report illegal dumping.
Responsible actions lead to a safe and enjoyable day on the water. It also becomes a teachable moment for anyone in attendance. Plan and prepare before you go, check the weather and marine forecast, know about life jackets (PFDs), have floating navigational devices and paddles available, know how to assist or call for help if need be, and — above all — respect the water. Keep in mind that all water sources are connected, so leave your environment cleaner than you found it.
Long Island Sound is mostly a seasonal fishery with a wide array of fish species migrating to and from their spawning grounds. Catching and identifying a new species of fish can be a challenging and rewarding way to add to your fishing portfolio. Take it a step further and search out a new kitchen or barbecue recipe and go for it. If food is not on the agenda, then carefully release your catch to fatten up for another fisher to catch at another tide.
Cooperative research that involves NOAA scientists, as well as recreational and/or commercial fishermen in part, is known as Citizen Science. It is a collaborative contributing initial fisheries research data that can be additional data often not sequenced by fisheries, biologists, and managers. SciFish is a mobile application powered by the Atlantic Coastal Cooperative Statistics Program (ACCSP) that encourages and facilitates the collection of saltwater fish along the Atlantic coast from Maine to Florida. Additionally, it hosts multiple fisheries citizen science projects. A free app is available in popular online stores.
On The Water
A deep low-pressure east of New England lifted up to Canada, where it remained nearly stationary. The low pulled a cold front to the southeast, then impacted our area. A surface trough followed where westerly winds diminished and seas moderated as a drop in pressure brought some unsettled weather in the form of scattered rain and thunderstorms. Air temperatures climbed from the mid-70s to the low 80s with more seasonal conditions, while Long Island Sound water temps fluctuated from the low to mid-60s, adding more advantageous opportunities for migrating fish and fishers.
Locally, the air along the Connecticut shoreline adjacent to Long Island Sound has been heavy, with smoke emanating from Canada’s wildfires. The associated patchy haze, along with the thick air, has not been fisher-friendly but has given cover to striped bass that have been foraging in skinny water. That bite has been exceptional with, at times, non-stop schoolie action and more than one or two over-the-slot releases. Topwater plugs, soft swim baits, jigs, and natural baits have been effective both inshore and out on the reefs. So far, there has not been any noticeable letup.
There have been more tangles with bluefish of late — primarily due to the availability of menhaden. Blues, along with stripers, are working those bait schools in many of the lower tidal rivers where action has been very good. These bunker schools have been not only in the Sound but also up and down the coast, firing up foraging predators. Topwater plugs, flashy spoons, and jigs are top artificial lure choices.
Weakfish catches picked up since last week, but weather and air conditions held back some fishers. That also held true for other fisheries, but the interest in catching black sea bass and fluke was greater. Fishers did manage to fish the tides for those bottom feeders, and in both cases, there were catches of sea bass over three pounds and mini doormats. Locating acceptable fluke was definitely more arduous than finding sea bass — the former showed great interest in squid and Gulp or spearing combinations on rigs or bucktail jigs. The latter was more toward jigs, hi-lo rigs, and squid. Black sea bass opens June 23 in New York, so keep an eye on the mid-Sound CT/NY demarcation line. Porgy catches continue to be good offshore, whereas fishing from shore is variable depending on location but overall on schedule. Seaworms, squid, scented baits, and simple setups are what is needed for these saltwater panfish.
There are enough dogfish taking bottom chunks to provide some real tugging, surprising a few fishers that thought striper at first. Casting from shore or working off a vessel can yield a dogfish upwards to four feet. Skate are around, and hefty striped sea robins are feeding off the bottom — occasionally chasing a small jig to the top. Squid, anchovies, silversides, and shad are adding to available forage. Blue crabbers looking for the makings for some crab salad have come alive in the estuaries in the form of Jimmies to 6.5” point-to-point and better.
Inland lakes and ponds continue to get a lot of attention pre- and post-kickoff to summer. Basses and toothy critters (like pickerel, perch, and crappie) have got the main stage. There are plenty of sunfish, some catfish, and few northern pike that have been caught. Trout may have thinned out from the last stocking, but there are more than enough to keep fly fishers and spin casters active on the rivers.
Important Date Change: Notification by CT DEEP of the sudden emergency Striped Bass slot limit change was updated and received during the first week in June. The 28-31” slot (one fish daily) became effective on May 26, earlier than the July 2 date originally stipulated by ASMFC.
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.