Looking to Diversify Your Fishing?
It has been four years since the last great white shark (Cabot) was pinged in Long Island Sound off the coast of Greenwich and seven years since the first one (Montauk) was pinged just south of Faulkner’s Island off the coast of Guilford. Both were tagged by Osearch in an attempt to find out more data on a great white shark nursery believed to be off the coast of Long Island in the area of the Hamptons.
Optimal water temperature range for white sharks is approximately 50-80 degrees, providing them with a seasonal migratory path from the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico to Maine. Sandbar sharks are comfortable at 64-68 degrees before moving offshore, and sand tiger sharks settle for 54-68 degrees, where juveniles can tolerate water temperatures as high as 80 degrees. Smooth and spiny dogfish are comfortable from 55 to 65 degrees, and, as recently as this past week, the smooths have been quite active in 70- to 75-degree water.
If one is looking to complement their bottom fishing, then think chunks, chum, and shark. We do not need a Jaws size hook, but rather something around an 8/0 with some wire leader fished sunset to sunrise — even during the day if you are in dogfish waters. There are no restrictions on dogfish, but all others should be returned to the water unharmed.
It has also been over 90 years since there has been a minor brush with a shark in the Sound. True, there is a seal population here, and even though water temperatures and pH (potential of hydrogen) levels have not been conducive to a great white shark habitat (especially in the springtime when freshwater runoff is greatest), it does not preclude an occasional exploratory visit by one. In fact, according to NOAA (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration) and the University of Florida’s International Shark Attack File, there were 57 unprovoked shark bites worldwide in 2022, compared to the five-year average of 70 between 2017-’21.
Times are changing, and marine water temperatures are rising. If ample forage remains available and conditions become more favorable, perhaps we might see some changes. After all, water conditions are improving, and we are seeing more whales, dolphins, and sea turtles venture into the Sound, as well as sand tiger and sandbar sharks establishing nurseries of their own and taking up residences.
On The Water
High pressure remained offshore for the week while an upper-level disturbance moved across the area, followed by another disturbance. A cold front then approached and passed, dropping air temperatures from the high 80s into the low 80s and high 70s. Mixed sun and clouds developed into mostly sunny conditions and lower humidity, with the occasional threat of showers and thunderstorms. Long Island Sound water temperatures remained stationary in the mid-70s, winds stood around 10 knots (stiffer after any thunderstorms), and seas ranged from about one foot to possibly two feet.
Long Island Sound conditions continued to vary due to the amount of trees, logs, and debris that drifted down the main tidal rivers from high flooding water levels. Intermittent sections of the Sound were clean, clear, and quite fishable, as tidal changes moved the hazards around while others were problematic. The ones that have not been problematic are dogfish, sand tigers, sandbar sharks, etc. Just in time for Shark Week and the insatiable appetite for learning and catching any shark or shark-related species, interest always peaks this time of the season.
Chunks of cut bait and/or clams will invite these bottom feeders — especially dogfish that are growing in size. From juveniles that can fit in a manila envelope to ones that reach over 4 feet, their agile and twisting runs will test gear and stretch your line. Near or after sunset is a good time to soak some bait, but these squaliformes can easily be caught during the day, as well. Currently, there are restrictions on the recreational harvest of either smooth or spiny dogfish — no season, daily, or size limit. Unless used as a food source, it is recommended to release them once caught.
Scup has been the bread and butter of the saltwater panfish crowd as more slabs are being hauled in and prepped for the table. Finding a hump, reef, or rock pile stacked with scup may not be an issue since they are pretty much throughout the Sound, but dodging floating debris might be a different story for some. It has been seaworms, squid, clams, and scented baits that have been menu choices for both shore and on-the-water scup bangers. Black sea bass seekers have been doing well, using squid, rigs, and jigs when fishing reefs and wavy bottoms in 40- to 85-foot depths in both Connecticut and New York waters. Anything too shallow will yield much smaller fish.
Flukers are still frustrated with the number of shorts caught, but keepers for the table are being caught from clear, clean, and slow-moving water. Check out Six Mile, East Faulkner’s, deep structured bottoms, and several nearshore bays and wider channels on incoming tides. Squid, filleted bait strips, spearing, and Gulp paired with a variety of fluke rigs is a good road to take for hookups. A wide array of other bottom fish, including sea robins, northern kingfish, toadfish, eels, and some winter flounder, are being caught, along with a surge in Blackfish (tautog) catches. Blue crabs have seen a resurgence since summer weather moderated and waters returned to somewhat normal. Many of the popular estuaries are back on track and should be explored along the banks and creeks for some worthwhile jimmies.
As summer air and water temperatures creep up, and tidal rivers feel the effect, many striped bass are moving or have moved into deeper and cooler, more oxygenated water, found mainly at the reefs and shoals. Stripers are now primarily taking live eels and menhaden, cut chunk baits, bucktails, diamond jigs, and flutter spoons. Find schools of bunker and fish below them for scale-busting cows — and I do not mean the kind spotted being washed down in the Connecticut River. Keep working the nearshore waters for some of those stripers feeding in close. Bluefish and weakfish are definitely in play — especially the blues stacked up at The Race. Scattered top water action exists, but those caught are mainly down in the water column, as are the weakies. Blues are taking spoons, jigs, plugs, and chunks. Wire or heavy mono leaders for larger choppers are a must!
Inland rivers and streams are still feeling the effects of the recent rain that has been causing higher-than-normal water levels and faster flows. Trout anglers are experiencing new challenges in familiar fishing spots but are still catching fish — although, most likely, fewer. New vegetation has sprouted up on many of the lakes and ponds while existing growth takes on more density, creating the typical line and lure complications. Largemouth bass are suspended under the lily pads, taking frogs and others on soft plastics and jigs. At early morning and night, topwaters are golden.
Fly Fishing Clinic: Now accepting reservations for August. 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, along with striped bass enthusiast and specialist. 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.