Sunday, November 29, 2020


Oh, What a Tangled Web We Weave


A quick way to interrupt a fishing trip is to create a bird’s nest. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

A quick way to interrupt a fishing trip is to create a bird’s nest. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )


Rachel Lyon of Branford caught and released this nice 24-inch striped bass using a live sandworm as bait. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

Rachel Lyon of Branford caught and released this nice 24-inch striped bass using a live sandworm as bait. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )


While waiting for the offshore bite to kick in, Jason Gold of Madison had fun catching and releasing inshore springtime stripers. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

While waiting for the offshore bite to kick in, Jason Gold of Madison had fun catching and releasing inshore springtime stripers. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )

“Bird nest” has a dual meaning when springtime rolls around. To the ornithologist, it is the nest in which a bird lays eggs and hatches young. Occasionally, little chirps give away the location of this uniquely crafted interwoven bunch of twigs and branches. Sometimes, though, not so easily. When a nest is found, it’s admired and much appreciated—rarely disliked.

Words have a way of describing such a picture, and bird nest or, bird’s nest, as the case may be, projects a very identifiable graphic image. At one point, every fisher was at least acquainted with or, more likely, has experienced one. We are referring to a totally avoidable, unruly mess that occurs when gravity overtakes acceleration and causes fishing line to become entangled, thereby imitating a bird’s nest.

It is the rapid clicking sound from the reel that first alerts the fisher. The hope is that while trolling, a fish has taken the bait and is making a run. Within seconds, realization sets in that it is not a fish, but bottom. Perhaps, a fish threw the hook and then caught bottom, or maybe the free spool lever had been flicked. Anyway, the culprit here is the infamous free-spool lever that engages and disengages the spool of a conventional boat reel or, in the case of a baitcaster, the button or bar.

Once that happens, the spool spins uncontrollably with increasing speed. Any change in direction or reduction in speed or both will cause the fast rotating spool to overtake the line, resulting in the dreaded bird’s nest, sometimes referred to as a backlash. A bird’s nest can also occur when jigging if the jig hits bottom before it is slowed down. If that happens, the spool continues to spin, resulting in some choice words and a tangled pickle.

By the way, spin casters are not immune to a bird’s nest. Over-spooling can result in similar frustration, especially when using a spinning reel. Tip: An educated thumb used to slow down the line before your lure or rig reacts to gravity or suddenly reaches bottom will greatly reduce the odds of bird nesting. A word of caution: Pocket your used fishing line in order to prevent birds from using it in building their nests.

On the Water

A stretch of good weather welcomed the Memorial Day weekend and beyond, bringing Long Island Sound’s inshore water temperatures well into the 50s. The gusty easterly winds eventually shifted, calming the seas and allowing for better navigation and increased fishing opportunities. All in all, this was welcomed and certainly taken advantage of.

The western end of the Sound saw increased schools of Atlantic menhaden that gradually filtered to the east. This influx is creating forage for striped bass and, in turn, offering some reasonably good fishing, even though most of linesiders caught to date have been shy of the 28-inch keeper size. At this point, a series of chunk baits, strips, artificials, and live eels have also been producing catches along the shoreline, as well as some of the popular inshore reefs.

Fear not, there are some prize bass lurking in the shallows that should give any fisher a good photo op. Consider checking out the ambush points that would hold baitfish during pre-dawn hours, where a light current would corral schools of bait. This would be a good spot to work a live eel near the rip line. Set the hook with a beak or octopus hook or raise the rod, picking up any slack, and then crank when using an inline circle hook.

Fluke has been open since May 4, but only moderate catches have been reeled in from Long Island Sound, mostly with squid and three-way rigs or bucktails and teasers. Best bet for a doormat has been when drifting in 80- to 100-foot depths. At this point, anything shallower has produced mostly shorts. Black sea bass opened on May 19 to 30-knot gusty winds and small craft warnings. When conditions calmed down, 40- to 75-foot depths produced some humpbacks in and around the four-pound range, whereas closer to shore yielded barely keeper fish. With the recent blows, winter flounder catches fell off, but came back as seas moderate. Blue crabs are making a small showing.

As Memorial Day approached, the stocking trucks were busy. Several rivers and trout parks, including lakes and ponds, received another dose of fish to carry anglers deeper into the season. Catches once again spiked, but with the improvement in weather conditions, trout were weaning off hatchery food and onto naturals and good imitations, be they lures or flies.

Whether more anglers have time to fish because of the interruptions COVID-19 has brought, or more folks have ventured to the water after hearing of the good fishing, it appears that more fish are being caught. This holds true not only for trout, but also just about all the common fish found in inland waters. The basses have been turning heads, pickerel are earning their reputation, crappie and perch have been made into favorite recipes, catfish blackened, and so forth.

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 licenses, 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

twitter @captmorgan_usa

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