Avoid a Cold Water Dunking From Spoiling Your Day
Fishers on vessels (especially aboard small ones), and those fishing from a coastline full of boulder fields that serve as creative casting platforms, can be subjected to a sudden and unexpected dunking. During the summer months, that might be welcomed, except for the potential loss of gear and a cap or two. However, this is fall, when waves kick up, winds can be unpredictable, temperatures drop, and wet rocks, together with foul weather apparel, can be a potentially disastrous combination.
First and foremost, before venturing out, let someone know where you are heading, whether you are on foot or on a type of vessel, identifiable clothing, and your expected time of departure/return. If an accident should occur, first responders can determine your approximate location by the tide, drift, and projected departure time. Wear an inflatable life vest, carry a zip-locked charged cell phone, mini flashlight, whistle, dependable multi tool/pocket knife (partially serrated blade) and minimal first aid kit. Like a parachute, one will probably never need them, but if so, they will most likely be life-saving.
Unless a fisher has been swept off a rock while fishing at night, or took a dunking in cold weather water before, the event will be shocking to the system. If a dousing occurs when a fish is on, the experience can equally be troublesome to the body, limb, and ego. It only takes 1-3 hours of 40-50 degree water for a person’s life to be threatened.
Knowing ahead of time what to expect is crucial to survival. It is better to avert a tragedy by expecting the unexpected and being prepared, than to have a manageable problem turn into a panic-stricken fight for life. It is the time of year to really think safety, considering that fewer people will be out on the water to assist in case of an emergency. If you are ever underwater, in distress and disoriented, just remember Jimmy Buffett’s song “Bubbles Up” to point you in the right direction.
On The Water
High pressure took over from the low system that brought unsettled weather to the region, before it was replaced by another low that passed to the southeast. The high pressure built back into the region that remained for several days, bringing with it a mix of sun, clouds and air temperatures into the high 50’s and low 60’s. A cool front then materialized, forcing temperatures to fall more in line with November, adding a mix of rain, sun and clouds. Long Island Sound waters held to the low 60’s, accompanied by variable calm to gusty winds and relatively mild seas, interspersed with periods of choppy conditions.
The weather is keeping in line with Fall blackfish (tautog) season, and continues to have a positive impact on the striped bass and bluefish migration. Typical fall fluctuations in temperature are having their normal effect, but so far, fishing has only been interrupted but not slowed.
Blitzes are impressive and ongoing, totally devoid of any time table other than nature’s calling. Fishers are showing signs of amazement, whether their fishing rod bends repeatedly when catching schoolie after schoolie, or when the unexpected weight of a serious over the slot striped bass takes a lure, runs, cannot be turned, and does not stop. This is what has been occurring, and those out regularly or that hit it right have stories to tell.
Blackfish will continue their fall bite prior to the fronts that have passed. They will be on the walls, picking at crabs and taunting toggers, dangling a tog jig, or wedging themselves in the rocks seemingly to remain immovable. For those, there is always a trick or two that get them to drop their guard. As water temperatures rise and fall, togs will usually follow, as the colder it gets, the deeper they will go until it is time to semi-hibernate. Those of us that stick it out until Thanksgiving time (when the season closes on Nov. 29) will have the opportunity at some trophy white chins that might take them over the top for the 2023 Dream Boat Challenge, when tog highlights the final month and the last monthly fish to be recorded.
Concentrating on the action fish, fishers are primarily keying in on striped bass, bluefish, weakfish and false albacore while scanning the waters for slab porgies, humpback black sea bass, and other bottom feeders. Artificial lures and baits are connecting with stripers in water, from three feet near-shore to the deep pockets and reefs of the Sound. They are not just feeding. They are slamming whatever they figure will give them a boost of energy. That could be a topwater spook, swim bait, jig, fly or live eels, hickory shad, peanut bunker, or chunks.
Thumbs up went to the stripers for their blitzing effort — not often outshining bluefish but recently, that was the case. Blues took to shad, bunker, flashy metals, plugs and terminal tackle that the less experienced would bet on its durability. However, unless we are referring to a diamond jig (disregarding the hook), sooner or later that fisher will come around to a different way of thinking. There is not much that will escape the powerful menacing jaws of a blue, or their relentless pursuit of forage. From calm surface water to a boiling fish cauldron, it only takes a short time before a school of feeding blues march on, leaving birds and pieces to be consumed by other fish and birds.
Unless there is an unforeseen turn in the weather pattern, or a few albies or passing bonito get locked in the warm water pools of power plant outflows, the end of October usually sees the last of albies as they speed off in another direction, leaving weakfish to fill the gap. That gap is time and temperature sensitive, so picking up one or two is best left to the trollers or fishers jerking deep bucktails and squid.
The latest cold snap marking the first frost warning sent a shock wave across the lakes and ponds but only slowed the bite down. Colder water temperatures and less sun has fish feeding and moving more during the day. Look for underwater points, hard bottom, drop-offs and bait schools. Stocked trout waters still remain good, as well as native brookie rivers and streams. The basses, catfish, black crappie, perch, and other panfish, including resident species, are taking artificial and natural baits, plus flies — nymphs and streamers. It is a good time of year for sweet water anglers to be paddling a canoe and throwing poppers, twitch and jerk baits.
Report Shark/Fish Interactions: 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 to CaptainMorganUSA@hotmail.com and include name, home town, and any other pertinent data.
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