A Place Called Magnetic Rocks
With a name like that, one would think it would be the last place to point a bow. It shows up as a dot along eastern Long Island Sound’s shore and is nondescript on most nautical charts except for the most detailed. This rock strew reef rises up from the sea bottom to about fifteen feet from the surface at mean low tide, where a well-defined rip sets up on the flood — and especially during a moon tide.
Drifting live eels here has always been a match made in heaven. A moonlit night paired with a moderate tide is a combination that feeding striped bass can rarely resist. The sinker tapping the rocky bottom as it walks up one side and down the other sends shivers up the line to the rod tip. When it stops, one either has a linesider at the other end or a rock that has grabbed onto the weight.
A momentary lack of concentration is all that it takes for the weaker drop line, securing the sinker is grabbed by one of the many crevices. Separated from the rest of your terminal tackle, it lies on the bottom, leaving a fisher to regroup. The upside is that there are heavy cows feeding in this prime gathering hole. Not many, but the ones that are there are quality fighters requiring the utmost care to land.
Reading a chart and understanding contours and depths goes a long way in determining good ambush points. A grasp of tides and currents puts one in the right spot at the right time; knowing moon phases increases the probability of hooking into one of these formidable fish.
It could be this spot or one of many others clearly visible on any good nautical chart but blind to the inexperienced or casual fisher. Doing a little homework before heading out can save the day. In this example, striped bass was used, but the same method could be applied to any other species if one knows when, where, and how they feed.
On The Water
A wide area of low pressure remained through most of the long holiday weekend, followed by high pressure that finally took over. A frontal system then slowly approached from the west, creating unsettled weather with scattered rain, thunderstorms, and some gusty winds as conditions ranged from moderate to good. Air temperatures remained in the 80s while Long Island Sound water temperatures fluctuated in the low 70s, and seas were relatively calm.
The coin has flipped to the side, indicating daylight is getting shorter. You will notice that on a tide chart listing the times of sunrise and sunset. This is particularly of interest to striped bass fishers when concentrating on fishing tides and currents during low light conditions, noting that stripers’ rods and cones within their eyes function differently than with people — not simultaneously but rather independently. Accordingly, adjusting times to fish will be more productive.
Although river and estuary catches have eased due to higher water temps, there are still fish being caught with bait, artificials, and flies. On the other hand, hookups in the Sound have picked up — particularly on the reefs and shoals where deeper water temps and oxygen levels are more appealing. The Race, for one, has been producing over-the-slot fish when trolling and jigging. Fish of similar size and smaller have made their way farther into the Sound and are being caught on scattered reefs, shoals, and near-shore structures. Try Six Mile, Goose, Faulkner’s North Rip, Southwest Reef, The Beacon, and the Q area.
Bluefish catches remain good from the Race on through mid and western Sound. Trolling, jigging, and chunking baits are three popular methods used fishing for them. Sighting intermittent bird activity should signal time to switch over to casting topwater or subsurface lures — poppers, spoons, etc. In any case, wire leaders are recommended. When deep drifting and/or trolling, weakfish are also being caught — but most often unexpectedly. Closer to shore, expect smaller weakies, as the bite has been rather good lately.
Know your enhanced fishing areas when fishing from shore! Shoreline-enhanced areas are giving flukers an advantage, offering them a 1.5” less minimum size length — 17” as opposed to 18.5,” knowing that can easily turn what might be thought of as a throwback into a keeper fish. There are 45 of these locations scattered throughout the CT shoreline. The ratio of throwbacks to keepers is slowly coming down as more keeper fluke are being caught, but numbers are still running frustratingly high for those fishers on vessels or fishing non-enhanced areas. Bucktails, rigs, teasers, squid, and spearing drifted 40 to 60 feet and deeper are the popular methods in an attempt to home a mini-doormat or better.
Black sea bass have been all over rigs and squid in NY waters when CT waters have been temporarily closed through July 8. Now that they re-opened to limits of five fish at a minimum length of 16 inches, action has resumed on the CT side. Porgy season and summer scup fever has taken hold. Seaworms, squid, and clams continue to hook slabs as well as shorts. Note that the minimum length is 10.5” from boat and 9.5” from shore. The daily creel limit is 30 per fisher!
Intentionally or otherwise, chunking the bottom will generate a variety of species’ interests. Most feeding is down on or near the bottom; however, at times, a sinking or moving chunk will draw a strike (or at least a nibble). We are all familiar with the various local sharks, skate, dogfish, triggerfish, kingfish, toadfish, eels, and puffers. But how familiar are you with a springtime Atlantic cod from the north or a southern Gulf of Mexico cobia that occasionally venture north due to warming southern waters like the 56” one recently caught? We are seeing more and more fish entering our waters — some taking up residence like black sea bass or just visiting. Attention blue crabbers! Get those throws, scoop nets, and traps baited and wet. Stormy weather may temporarily churn up estuary bottoms, but aside from that, go for it.
Lakes and ponds, in particular, are very active with bass, pickerel, crappie, perch, catfish, etc. Snapping turtles and some beavers may become a distraction, but that goes with the territory. Keep mosquito repellent handy when fishing early or late in the day. Topwaters, cranks, jigs, and soft plastics, along with natural baits, are effective. Trout river levels and flows have been fluctuating with the stormy weather. Overall, they have been low and slow, so fish the deep, cool pools. Persistent fly fishers are connecting with dries and submersibles, while conventional anglers are going with spinners, floaters, naturals, and scented baits.
Fly Fishing Clinic: Now accepting reservations for July. An outstanding opportunity for the experienced or intermediate fly fisher. Booking inland and marine fly fishing lessons for 2023 with world fisher, certified master fly fishing casting instructor, and fishing lodge director, accompanied by an accomplished guide, instructor, and local striped bass enthusiast and specialist. 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.