Choosing the Right Setup for the Right Conditions
This very nice 23-inch rainbow trout caught by Mike Murphy of Westbrook topped off his catch of the day. Photo (Illustration by Captain Morgan )
Brook trout are richly patterned and revered by both spin and fly fishers, as this recently caught beauty by Frank Ruiz of Hamden illustrates. Photo (Illustration by Captain Morgan )
Another nice colorful stocky rainbow trout from Chatfield Hollow caught by Daniel Carter of Guilford. Photo (Illustration by Captain Morgan )
Probably the most asked question from casual or semi-active recreational fishers is, “What’s working?” Those experienced regulars already know, but are more interested in the where as opposed to the what. Getting to the what may not be that easy of a question to answer.
The most popular and productive bait or lure is only as good as the technique employed and the conditions available. Water temperature is a major key, although other factors are important to consider, too. Wind, current, tide, and moon cycle play an important role when fishing Long Island Sound. On the other hand, when fishing lakes and ponds, current and tide have a minimal effect.
To keep a bait or lure’s presentation more realistic, fast water generally dictates more weight in order to fish closer to typical habitat structures. In a lake, a heavier lure might be needed to offset the wind just to reach a deep hole away from the shore. A change in tidal flow dictates what species will be feeding, while a particular moon phase may exert more of a gravitational pull on the water level and the way certain forage may move.
In a confined environment like a lake, identifying baitfish movement can be reasonably predicted and anglers can fish accordingly. However, in a saltwater environment, tide and sea conditions have a major influence on where the fish may or may not be found.
The more you fish, the more you will realize the numerous pieces to the puzzle. Whatever the setup, everything should be considered, including what forage is available and at what times. Most of us eat either when hungry or by the clock, but marine fish, for example, feed more often according to the tide.
So, if you are planning a fishing trip, look over your chart or topographic map for likely ambush spots. Check the weather and sea conditions. Pay attention to the depth you will be fishing and what it will take to get you there, as well as the likely forage available. Then, select the terminal gear that will best place that bait or lure in the target zone as naturally as possible.
For example, a fluke fisher might look for a shoal, reef, or sandy bottom before selecting an appropriate weight to reach it and suit the drift. Next, perhaps a hi-lo rig or a bucktail trimmed with squid or scented grub-like artificial could be tied on before lowering the setup to the target zone. Other than keeping an eye on the electronics, a hand on the rod, and being aware of the slightest pickup, watching out for other vessels will aid in a safe and fruitful return.
On the Water
Spring weather has been gaining with a few more summery days before dropping into to a cooler unsettled pattern and then reversing course. The Sound responded with varying seas to match the weather, coupled with on and off windy conditions. While this sequence of events has been occurring above the surface, water temperatures managed to hit 50 degrees Fahrenheit and higher below the inshore, sparking increased fishing activity. Even though an unseasonal arctic blast swept through, a much warmer trend is on the horizon.
May’s Full Frog or Flower Moon influences fish activity most because of the effect that it has on the tides. That effect stimulates the food chain and, along with the increase in water temperatures, translates into feeding and spawning sprees, including fish migrations.
The striped bass bite is surging as more migrating fish are mixing with our holdovers. Beach action is hot, as are the bays, inshore reefs, and shoals. Fish that have been shy of the lower end of the slot have been prevalent until now. Currently, we are catching more fish that are falling within the new slot limit than in previous weeks and most of those caught have been along the immediate shoreline. Although artificials are catching a fair number of fish, various live and fresh-dead baits are gaining traction.
Fluke season opened on May 4 with more action in Rhode Island’s and eastern New York’s waters than within Long Island Sound. A few fish in the seven- to nine-pound range were boated around the Fishtails and along the beaches south of Isabella. Smaller fish that made their way into the Sound were drifted up by Six Mile, while a few scattered catches were made drifting Long Sand Shoal. Before venturing out, check your fuel levels since there may be issues in New York and Rhode Island regarding fueling and docking. Keep in mind that the daily limit is four fish at a 19-inch minimum length and, on the water, fillets need to meet that minimum requirement or be accompanied by a legal size rack. While fluke fishing has ginned up, winter flounder season is still in play, so consider fishing the inshore bays and channels for them.
Trout catches continue to remain strong locally and throughout the state. Floating swimmers have been doing well in the rivers where countdowns have scored when fishing deep holes, especially when the water levels are up. Live bait and scented imitations remain good choices, as are inline spinners and flies like bead head and streamers. Trollers are connecting. Warmer weather will generate hatches, so have your choice emergers and dries handy.
Lake and pond fishing for largemouth bass varies, but the bite has been good. When you hear the croaking of frogs during the Full Frog Moon cycle, expect the largemouth bass bite to ramp up. That is a clear signal to bring out the top water lures like the jitterbug, hula poppers, and impulse-striking frog imitations. Smallmouth fishing in the rivers, lakes, and back country has been good—a fly-rodder’s delight. Panfish and other species are rounding off some good fishing, too.
Last-minute registrations are being accepted for our 15th annual Codi and Bubba Memorial Trout Contest on Saturday, May 16. Fish anywhere. Prizes for the heaviest trout weighed. Social distancing practiced. Group numbers monitored as per recommended guidelines. Five bucks gets you in. Kids under 12 fish free when accompanied by a registered adult. It’s a good cause and donations are always welcome.
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, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days 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...