Popular and Still Free to Catch
First, the water temperatures in the estuaries broke into the 60s, then periods of short-lived heavy downpours followed. As a blue crab, that combination mostly forced them in and out of the bays and tidal rivers. That, in turn, played a hit-or-miss scenario with crabbers looking for the season’s first catch. Small jimmies (males) and sallies (females) comprised most of the catch, with ones under 5” point-to-point returning to the water.
As soon as water temperatures hit the 60s, jimmies 6-1/2 to 7” (and better) appeared in numbers. Crabbers took advantage of that window and had something to show for their effort. Generally, slack tide around high and low tides is prime for working traps and hand lines. Setting up to work an hour or two before and after the tide is advisable. Many crabbers, though, do prefer starting when the tide is around slack low. A small flat-bottom boat, canoe, or kayak is the way to go if scoop netting by pilings, river banks, and other water-related structures is on the agenda.
Atlantic menhaden is considered an excellent bait for these bottom feeders — although chicken has always been popular but has fallen off in recent years due to salmonella concerns. In either case, whole or cut chunks secured to a trap, dip net, or hand line and thrown near a creek outlet will generally yield good results. These aggressive critters with an attitude would love more than anything to get a grip on one of your fingers, so watch out!
Note that trot lines are legal and must be attended (as are traps) but dropping individual unattached floats or gallon plastic bottles is not — whether attended or not. No license is needed for recreational crabbing for personal use, and keeper sizes are 5” point-to-point (hard shell) and 3.5” point-to-point (soft shell), and possession of egg-bearing females is prohibited. A 5” blue crab is approximately 12-18 months old when it reaches maturity, and few live longer than three years. The current Connecticut blue crab record is 8.81” caught in 2016.
Whether looking for a shell-cracking crabmeat meal drawn in butter on yesterday’s newspaper or baked flounder stuffed with Ritz cracker and crabmeat stuffing, try your hand at blue crabbing in one of our shoreline’s pristine estuarine habitats. It is definitely a great way to spend a time with family, friends, or solo.
On The Water
A warm front approached from the southwest and moved through as the region remained in-between disturbances. That brought more humid air with spotty, smoky conditions and a low pressure that lingered over the Northeast as the weekend approached. A series of surface troughs and fronts moved across in conjunction with the low pressure. Air temperatures ranged from the mid-to-high 70s into the low 80s as intermittent rain, sun, and clouds permeated the region. Meanwhile, as the summer solstice welcomed summer, Long Island Sound water temperatures remained in the low 60s while winds varied and seas remained relatively calm during shifts of unsettled weather conditions.
Striped bass numbers still perplex fishers as catches remain good. Fluctuating weather conditions and movement of baitfish schools caused varying hookups as some stripers moved to the offshore reefs. However, skinny water catches and releases made in nearshore bays, boulder fields, and some lower tidal rivers have been providing excellent fishing for small vessels and shore casters. Combinations of plugs, swim shads, hard swimmers, jigs, and natural baits all have had success during both tides.
There have been more catches of bluefish breaking 10 to 12 pounds, along with a mix of smaller harbor blues. A good percentage of those hooked have been caught by striper seekers when bait or tin and spoon fishing. Look for action at Six Mile, Faulkner’s, inner Southwest, The Beacon, and New Haven Breakwalls leading to the Q. Weakfish have been sporadic but continue to be picked up while trolling and drifting mid-Sound, with a dip inshore catches. Baits and artificials are still on the menu, and not surprisingly, some of these weakies are taking larger offerings than one would expect — like parachutes with trailers.
Fluke (summer flounder) is making more of a splash in the Sound than in recent tides. Shorts are showing up on the shoals affecting the keeper-to-release ratio. Keep in mind that the 2023 regulations call for a four fish, 18.5” minimum size, with enhanced shore areas relaxed to 17”. Drifting hi-lo rigs with a generous squid offering, along with a teaser tipped with a Gulp mullet, premium spearing, or bucktail teaser, has been quite productive. Consider being on/near the bottom and using a landing net as standard fishing techniques, even though flukes are known to chase forage up the water column. Traditionally, June has been a good month for blackback winter flounder. Now is the time to hit some of the harbor channels that hold bottom baits like worms, crustaceans, etc.
The Connecticut black sea bass season (five fish, 16” length) is well underway, while the 2023 regulations for New York have been updated to open on June 23 to a three fish, 16.5” minimum length — five days after Father’s Day. Shore fishers will likely have shorts pecking away at the bait, while deep water fishers (40-65’) will most likely hook into fish around three pounds or better — deep reefs for real knothead braggers. Squid, hi-lo rigs, and jigs are producing good results.
Porgy are being caught along the shoreline from the jetties to the reefs. Find a hump or rock pile, and, most likely, these scrappers will be on them around high tide. Squid, clams, seaworms, and scented artificial bait bites will turn an empty pan into a porgy party! Summer is around the corner when you know dogfish, skate, sea robins, northern kingfish, oyster crackers, and the like are making one bait up more often.
A few eager trout anglers took advantage of the calming weather, post thunderstorms, to hit the rivers. Of those, unexpected catches (along with career bests) with drag testing experiences resulted. Rainbows and browns were active in the deeper pools, while small, colorful native brookies were hooked and released back into their remote river habitat. Lakes, ponds, and key rivers show no let-up as basses, pickerel, crappie, perch, catfish, sunfish, etc., keep maintaining their aggressive feeding. Fool them with natural and artificial baits near cover, drop-offs, and early or late day hours for the best times to fish.
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, 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.