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12/04/2023 11:46 AM

Add a Unique Gift to Your Holiday Shopping

One of the unusual fish gifts and stories of 2023 can be relived on a custom T-shirt, designed by the fisher who went for a LIS sleigh ride while maneuvering his standup paddleboard pulled by a large shark. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
A good time of year to catch red hake or ling, now considered uncommon in the Sound, these tasty cod-related Gladiforms that grow to 30 pounds, 30” are bottom feeders, as Greg Wells of Madison was surprised when catching one. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
Sayonara until next season! Off to winter grounds, and hats off to the bluefish that provided us with some action-packed fishing throughout their visit to the Sound. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

So many notable fishing accomplishments threaded through the 2023 fishing season that if compiled into one logbook, it would be overflowing with photos, comments, and asterisks. Some of these were personal bests, one-offs, unusual or rare occurrences, unexpected surprises, and so on. Consequently, beginning to single out one specific event boggles the thought process and stretches storytelling to its limits.

Coming from this sea-weathered fisherman, high on the shortlist has to be the man on a standup paddleboard battling an intimidating shark in Long Island Sound (see Captain Morgan’s column, “A Most Unusual Sleigh Ride” published on Sept. 5 on, as well as in several associated shoreline newspapers and blogs). To top it off, coverage was also headlined on major multi-media outlets (TV, newspapers, social media) and throughout the worldwide fishing community.

Eddie Carroll of Northford is the man, and the shark was estimated to be an 8.5-foot brown or sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus), one of the world’s largest coastal sharks. The board is 12 feet! This species is known to frequent our local waters, but hooking into, fighting, and releasing one this size (and from a thoroughly exposed paddleboard as well) was quite the accomplishment. It may not have been the largest shark ever caught or the most daring, but piecing everything together for The Sound it is one that will be talked about for quite some time.

Capture the moment! What better way to acknowledge this feat at holiday time than to present it on custom-designed quality T-shirts and hats? This slice of fishing time was created and designed by Eddie, as he conceptualized it as well as tagged it with the date. For a unique Christmas and/or holiday gift, swing by Captain Morgan’s and check these out. Also, do not forget about other fishing and clamming-related items on hand to complement your gift-giving.

On The Water

The area remained between low pressure and high pressure, from Canada to the central states. Once an upper-level disturbance moved across the area, a high built toward the Mid-Atlantic and Southeast states, while a warm front passed to the north. A quick-moving low-pressure system then affected the region, as another high-pressure system built to the north. All this atmospheric movement manifested into sunny and partially sunny conditions, drops in air temperatures, gusty winds, and unseasonal to seasonal weather. Meanwhile, Long Island Sound water temperatures wavered from the high 40s into the low 50s, with seas ranging from under a foot to around five feet, as Small Craft Advisories were intermittently posted.

It was the effects of shifting winds that raised havoc with the last few days of blackfish (tautog) season. With most of the larger vessels already hauled due to local marina constraints, fishers were relegated to trailerable vessels or somewhat protected shore fishing. The die-hard toggers that were undaunted by the weather did manage to catch a mix of short-to-keeper togs on crabs.

Although the CT season wound down on the 28th, some toggers indicated that if weather cooperated, Rhode Island was not out of the question to try reeling in a few more for the freezer. That aside, and because of recent weather fronts, most blue crabbers called it for 2023. However, after a few more last-minute attempts, crabs were, in fact, caught as the season wound down on Nov. 30.

A few quick-moving snow squalls that moved through the area did not deter striped bass fishers from battling the elements. They were not necessarily looking to hook into record fish, even though that would be most welcome. Nor were schoolie catches looked upon with dissatisfaction. Closing out the season with one of the last flurries on the Sound before holdover linesiders make their way up the rivers was the primary draw. As in years past, December usually offers a few relatively warm, calm days on the water when a bite turns on and bass are caught on topwaters, spoons, soft plastics, and flies from small vessels. Consider catching a bluefish or weakie a bonus.

Once again, fishers are bailing out before the fish of the Sound, although some have already turned tail for their seasonal grounds. Black sea bass are still in play, but as water temperatures cool down, they follow the curve and run deeper — especially the quality humpbacks that continue to take squid and clams, and mostly anything else worth the effort. Porgy (scup) is another reef species still around, as well as a few winter flounder still working the inshore bays and channels, taking clams, mussels, and the occasional Gulp sandworm.

Atlantic broodstock salmon and Seeforellen brown trout are seeing recent fishing activity in the rivers, lakes, and ponds that were stocked by CT DEEP. As you recall, Seeforellen brown trout are hearty, formidable fish that present an excellent angling challenge. Salmon hookups are catch-and-release through Dec. 15, and one fish thereafter — check any regulation change that may occur in 2024. Note: A single fly or artificial lure with a single free-swinging hook is required. No additional weight may be added to the line. Additionally, there continues to be good trout, bass, and panfish activity (as well as other species) in many of the lakes and ponds and in some of the upper tidal rivers.

Report Shark/Fish Interactions: Seeking images/videos of shark vs. hooked fish encounters while fishing in Long Island Sound. Specifically, include images of striped bass bitten and/or of sharks actually attacking a striped bass while being reeled in. Email to and include name, hometown, and any other pertinent data.

Fly Fishing Clinic: Now accepting reservations for 2024. An outstanding opportunity for the experienced or intermediate fly fisher! Booking inland and marine fly fishing lessons with top flight, highly experienced instructors and guides. From trout, salmon, steelhead, and sea-run browns to striped bass, bonefish, permit, and tarpon, etc., 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 holiday gifts 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.

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan

X (formerly Twitter) @captmorgan_usa