Turn a Fishing Challenge Into a Goal
On a quest for catching and releasing a wish list of fish, here is Sean Callinan of Madison about to release a quality 30-inch weakfish caught on a fly rod. Photo (Illustration courtesy Captain Morgan )
Guilford’s own Tom Skoczylas caught this 2.64-pound, 17.5-inch dinner-plate size scup while fishing with squid. Photo (Illustration courtesy Captain Morgan )
Lee Greenwood of Madison landed this nice 18-inch rainbow trout on a light tackle setup using scented bait. Photo (Illustration courtesy Captain Morgan )
During these times, when challenges seemingly crop up at every turn, one thing remains comforting. It’s our familiar friend that all Connecticut residents know and love: Long Island Sound. Sure, the Sound has its ups and downs as it battles unwelcome influences and changes from decade to decade, but overall, it is a resource that offers many opportunities to all who appreciate its value.
Over the years, we have counted on the bounty that the Sound affords, both commercially and recreationally. Numbers, quantities, and species of fish may change, but one thing for certain is that fish will always come and go with the seasons and that’s a comfort to many, especially in today’s climate.
We see unfamiliar species and those that return after a long absence, such as the northern puffer fish and Spanish mackerel. Holdovers like striped bass, blackfish (tautog), and the many blue crabs that mud over during winter are of particular interest when favorable conditions prevail and fishing peaks.
There’s little doubt that fishing activity surges when migrations start to bring visiting fish into the Sound. This is prompted when coastal water temperatures rise and forage is on the move. It also offers an opportunity for fishers to create new ways of catching fish, develop new strategies, and set new goals for the upcoming season.
Some fishers only like to target fish for the table like porgy (scup), summer flounder (fluke), and black sea bass. Others enjoy the quest of searching out and hooking into fish that they’d never caught before. They might employ a new method or maybe a proven one that could possibly yield a record breaker for the books.
Why not? These are challenging times and a new challenge seems appropriate. The driving force here is an accomplishment that makes you feel good and boosts morale. Hooking and landing a fish of a certain weight or length on tackle that hasn’t previously been done is a job well done. Setting your own goals, followed by the hunt and ultimate success, is a great achievement. Whether fame or fortune or just self-satisfaction is the reason, fishing is one of the more popular ways to achieve that end.
Whatever the reason, now is the time to venture out to those fishing grounds, where the fresh air is flowing and practicing social distancing is very much in vogue.
On the Water
Long Island Sound inshore temperatures warmed up and cranked up fishing activity. There were some gusty days and plenty of early morning dense fog that cleared out once the winds picked up and the sun broke through. Humidity was high and intermittent showers were scattered throughout the shoreline, but really didn’t amount to much. Soon after, though, a cold front pushed through, dropping temperatures, especially in the predawn hours.
The hot bite in recent days has been all about black sea bass. Catch limits of humpbacks were easily managed in depths of 75 to 90 feet, mostly with squid-tipped rigs and jigs. With the species known for its unparticular appetite, catching these striking and tasty fish requires more knowledge of their whereabouts than actual technique, even though an experienced touch still helps.
Small- to medium-sized striped bass continue to feed all along the Connecticut shoreline, edging their way into the bays. Schools of baitfish are bringing them into the lower tidal rivers, where fishers in small vessels, paddle boards, and casting from shore are hooking into these linesiders on light gear. Live eels, soft plastics, spoons, and jigs are catching these popular sportfish.
Another local bite that’s coming along is the sea trout (weakfish). From the offshore reefs to the shallower sandbars, these colorful, soft-mouthed fish can put up a fuss, but are often lost when they’re close to being netted or beached. Generally, weakfish are going after bite-sized baits like crabs, shrimp, and cut squid, and can effectively be caught while drifting or trolling. Running with these crowd pleasers, bluefish can be hooked during the same deep-water sweep. While the numbers of choppers have been in short supply during the past few years, a few schools have made their appearance this season and are giving up to topwater plugs.
Another all-time crowd pleaser, scup are making their annual appearance. Catches on squid, clams, and sea worms are responsible for dinner-plate size fish. It won’t be long before the local humps and reefs are stacked with these saltwater panfish. In the meantime, fluke catches are moving forward, but mostly at a snail’s pace.
Some blue crabs are popping up along the banks, pilings, and creeks within the estuaries. They’re mostly small for now, but as the water temps rise and the rainfall eases, keep an eye open for the molt when jimmies begin to become active.
The freshwater scene has been awesome. Trout catches continue taking flies, lures, and natural and artificial baits. Largemouth bass have been crashing on topwaters, soft plastics, jigs, and spinnerbaits. Smallie action is heating up, while pickerel and crappie are having a good season, along with channel cats and river carp.
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 crabbing supplies, 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...