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Article Published August 13, 2020

The Sound’s First Bite of Hurricane Season

Tropical Storm Isaias was the ninth named storm of the 2020 Atlantic Hurricane season. The 10th would be Josephine, followed by Kyle, Laura, and right on down to Wilfred, the 21st. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) predicted an active season for this year with 13 to 19 named storms with winds of 39 miles per hour (mph) or higher, including 6 to 10 that could develop into hurricanes with winds of 74 mph or higher, and 3 to 6 major hurricanes (Category 3, 4, and 5) with winds of 111 mph or higher.

The hurricane season officially started on June 1 and runs through the end of November. The Sound is reasonably protected on the south by Long Island, New York, which serves as a major breakwater. However, the eastern part of the Sound, generally referred to as The Race, is a major body of water that exposes the Connecticut shoreline during a flood tide and those east, south, and southeast winds. This scenario creates major flooding during both high winds and peak high tides, and tends to pile water higher and higher.

Let Tropical Storm Isaias serve as warning to boaters, fishers, and all shoreline residents regarding what might be on the horizon. We tend to criticize weather forecasts from time to time because of their hype, but rest assured that angry water is a powerful force. As far as the fishing is concerned, unless we have a major blow toward the latter part of the season, our fishery will opt to go deep into the Sound and away from the turbulence, after which fish will gradually filter back to their haunts with the forage and begin to fill their empty stomachs. There is good fishing ahead, but keep an eye on the radar.

On the Water

Tropical Storm Isaias took a bite of out New England as it ripped through, leaving wind and water damage in its wake. If it didn’t strike at low tide, the outcome could have been much worse. Southeast winds blowing at 65 knots tore into the shoreline, bringing with it six- to nine-foot waves and carrying a lot of baggage along the way. Rainfall was easily handled, although high winds were even more devastating considering the season-long shortage of rain. And that brought high numbers of power outages.

As fast as the storm came, it left, thanks to it moving at 35 mph. Sunshine followed, along with much calmer weather. It took a few tides for the seas to settle down and water clarity to return before ambitious fishers took up posts once again. This turned out to be one heck of a prelude to Shark Week.

Inshore Long Island Sound water temperatures returned to the mid-70s and fishing gradually resumed to where it left off. Due to the harsh surf conditions, it is advisable to scope out the bottom contours since there were areas that shifted. No doubt, some adjustments will have to be made when fishing the Sound and especially along the shoreline.

The bottom fishery perked back up with many continuing to partake in porgy (scup) fever. Reefs and rock piles were stacked up again and scup picked up from where they left off. Beaches were opened once again and shore casters resumed catching, using a variety of baits. They were also fishing for snapper blues during incoming tides casting poppers, lures, and spearing. Sea robins, northern kingfish, skate, and sand sharks also prowled the bottom for food, including blackfish (tautog).

During the storm, Atlantic menhaden scattered, but after a bit, they also came back into the lower tidal rivers and bays. With that came schools of small bluefish that continued to feed. At times, poppers and spoons kept fishers busy, even though the action was not generally sustained. After the storm, air temperatures and humidity dropped, resulting in improved localized striped bass activity. Popular spots like Six Mile, Crane’s, Charles, Faulkner’s, and The Beacon saw an uptick in catches. Trollers, drifters, chunkers, and jiggers had to work, but those who worked at it caught fish.

The sea trout (weakfish) bite did not abate, but it took longer for summer flounder (fluke) to return to inshore waters before both shorts and keepers responded. As soon as water clarity improved and seas settled, fluke took up from where they left off—more shorts than keepers and some deep-water doormats. Black sea bass remain throughout the Sound. The better fish are deep, while fish closer to the 15-inch minimum length size confine themselves to 40- to 65-foot depths.

We are in the midst of Shark Week. This would be a good time to remind fishers that any sharks caught should be released unharmed and as soon as possible, preferably not removed from the water. Note that sand tigers and sandbar (brown) sharks that frequent The Sound are federally protected.

Lakes and ponds were less affected by the storm, other than downed trees and some turbulence. For the most part, summertime species resumed their activity sooner, giving anglers a good option until the Sound settled down. Rainfall did not do much for the fishing of river trout as water flows and levels are still at seasonal lows and more would be beneficial.

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 fishing trips, 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, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan

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