Are Your Arms and Rod Tips Getting Worn Out?
Have we gotten our fill of catching, releasing, and retaining striped bass (Marone saxatilis) yet? Apparently, we have not. The love affair for the hunt of linesiders is too embedded for true fishers to backpedal, even though their numbers call for it. Protecting the young of the year and the over-the-hill gang is supposed to shore up the biomass, but so far (and perhaps too soon to actually tell), numbers indicate that they are still overfished and overfishing is still occurring, making it unrealistic to attain the rebuilding target in a timely manner.
As recreational fishers, we are supposed to enjoy this resource—catching and releasing according to a living white paper. We are to leave the health of the stock to a network of educated, experience-based, government officials who collaborate on the fisheries’ well-being. However, in our world that may appear to work. In the fish’s world, it is a guessing game that may or may not work, as it calls for adjustments as various factors change.
Putting all of that aside, leaving key decisions (some with public input) to the powers that be, it is incumbent for recreational fishers to be diligent but, in doing so, also enjoy this recreational resource. Whether securing your infant to your chest and casting into the suds while, perhaps, initiating a teaching moment, or going at it alone, each has their own reason to fish. This year, Long Island Sound is the recipient of fantastic fishing—one to be remembered for a long time! Enjoy it and let it become part of the memory.
On the Water
After a rough stretch, high pressure kicked in and remained in control for several days before moving south of the region. A weak surface trough moved across, allowing for low pressure and a cold front to move in from the north, subsequently stalling near our area. Air temperatures held in the 50s during the evening and rose into the 70s during the day. They then cooled down into the low 40s in the evening and the low- to mid-50s during the day, bringing frosty conditions and a mix of sun and clouds, along with scattered light rain. Long Island Sound water temperatures fluctuated around the low 60-degree mark, winds moderated, and seas ranged from less than a foot to two feet, but remained relatively calm.
Bluefish continued to blitz and tear into bait schools, sidetracking fishers out to do some togging. Choppers slammed topwater poppers, spoons, diamond jigs, trolling lures and, of course, chunk baits. They chased food, locking it in tight to shore, as well as working the open water doing quite a bit of tail grabbing. What were thought to be capable hooks were soon stretched out, especially when drags were cranked down. Look for this action to continue until temperatures really tank and forage thins out.
Striped bass at 40 inches or better have been caught in the shallow, wetland grassy flats and lower parts of tidal rivers, both by spin and fly fishers. Linesiders took topwater poppers, spoons, live eels, and hickory shad, as well as sinking flies and long or short deceiver-types worked on 9/10 wgt setups. Although good action has taken place in skinny water, one cannot rule out the run of bass that may take a detour into the Sound and stage by reefs and rips along the way. Near-shore blitzes have been awesome for a Full Harvest Moon run!
Combine the schools of bait with the foraging bass and blues, along with good water temperatures, and the overall activity that fishers are experiencing has been exceptional. The gameplan might be focused on stripers, but en route, a bluefish blitz might be encountered that sidelines the original goal. As if that were not enough, enter the false albacore! In all cases, riplines are magnets that draw and confuse baitfish, and what better place to find a bass or blue than by those rips where albies show up zipping through them. This creates the need to have more than one setup to be able to handle any surprises that might materialize from either boat or shore.
Some say when togging, one or two ready-to-go combos are enough. That might be the case in any normal season. But this is far from a normal season! Even when working the walls for white chin togs, fishing the reefs, or out on a boulder field, multiple species have invaded the space (or close to it) being fished. Recently, fishers had to switch to more appropriate setups when that occurred. However, not having anything available to do so, some onlookers had to watch such an opportunity just melt away and only settle for a limit amount of togs in the recent rash of shorts.
Long Island Sound is full of autumn life, with the hierarchy of the food chain in full command. That being said, there are fewer shark bites taken out of hooked striped bass than in the recent past, most likely due to the drop in water temperatures, rather than the availability of an easy meal. The bottom fishery is still rather active with porgy and black sea bass—the other two popular eating fish. Freezers are being stocked for the winter months ahead, as fishers are tracking water temperatures and depths to maximize effort. Note that some larger sea bass have been feeding near shore, as well as out on the reefs. Other bottom fish are mulling around and seem to be temporarily content, but shorter sunlit days and cooler water temperatures will move them deeper and then on their way.
Brilliant fall colors reflected on a lake’s flat calm surface is breathtaking, until they are broken up by a bass rising to the surface and smashing a wobbly lure slowly worked by lily pads. Caught between admiring the foliage and concentrating on the retrieve, the knee-jerk reaction that followed epitomized an alarm clock sounding off in the wee hours of the morning. Lakes and ponds have been offering excellent fishing across the board, as trout rivers and management areas are giving up fish to the spin and fly fishers taking advantage of this unusual fishing season. Grab a rod, find a remote waterfront path, and make a cast. Fishing in nature’s multi-species habitat will not disappoint!
Report Shark/Fish Interactions: Now seeking images/videos of shark/fish encounters for research study while fishing in Long Island Sound. Specifically, include images of striped bass bitten and/or of shark actually attacking a striped bass while being reeled in. Email images to CaptainMorganUSA@hotmail.com and include name, hometown, and any other pertinent data.
Fly Fishing Clinic: Now accepting reservations for the remainder of the year. An outstanding opportunity for the experienced or intermediate fly fisher! Booking inland and marine fly fishing lessons for 2023-’24 with top-flight, highly experienced instructors and guides. From trout, salmon, steelhead, and sea-run browns to striped bass, bonefish, permit, and tarpon, techniques learned and honed will improve your fishing. Holiday gift certificates are also available.
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.