Sunday, November 29, 2020

Sports

Fishers Are Encouraged to be Creative

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Teachers and students at The Sound School recently got together for a blue crab reporting trip. Pictured are (left) Jonathan Pico and Victor Campanile; (top right) coordinator Tim Visel, Angela Lomanto, Giancarlo Lomanto, Pico, Victor Campanile, and Sandro Campanile; and (bottom right) Pico. Photo illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan

Teachers and students at The Sound School recently got together for a blue crab reporting trip. Pictured are (left) Jonathan Pico and Victor Campanile; (top right) coordinator Tim Visel, Angela Lomanto, Giancarlo Lomanto, Pico, Victor Campanile, and Sandro Campanile; and (bottom right) Pico. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )

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David Levett of Guilford hit one of the popular tidal rivers for night and day striped bass catch-and-release fishing with live eels. Photo illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan

David Levett of Guilford hit one of the popular tidal rivers for night and day striped bass catch-and-release fishing with live eels. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )

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Josh Sexton of Guilford enjoyed some exciting Block Island catch and release striped bass topwater action with family and friends. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

Josh Sexton of Guilford enjoyed some exciting Block Island catch and release striped bass topwater action with family and friends. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )

Many fishers have been forced to get creative during the COVID-19 pandemic. For those who consider themselves anything but the outdoorsy type, this poses a challenge. However, looking outside the box reveals many options.

Many have found out that fishing and clamming can provide a kind of escape, a counterbalance to feeling confined. Another activity that involves being outdoors, getting exercise, and obtaining fresh food directly from nature is crabbing. We’re not talking about the ordinary common shore green crab. Our focus is the ornery, aggressive blue crab that is known for its attitude and tasty meat. True, the season got off to a slow start. However, as it marched on and crabbers were looking to ply their throws, nets, and traps, the catches of these snappy claw bearers began showing up.

Crabbers started working the river banks and creeks in earnest, looking for signs of a run of five-inchers (the legal size, point to point) of hard shells to harvest. They lowered their crab pots, baited their lines, and dropped them to the bottom, while crab nets were kept ready. The June group outing from The Sound School, organized by coordinator Tim Visel, was looking for the latest reporting data on early season blue crabs.

Their efforts produced a male or female crab about every 5 to 10 minutes during a 1 ½ hour session, the majority of which were under five inches. Based on these early findings, it would appear that blue crabbers could have a productive season ahead. That said, it would be a good time to be creative and put together some crabbing gear and a plan that, of course, should include a few blue crab recipes.

On the Water

A few brief scattered showers did little to alleviate low water levels throughout the state during its first real heat spell. However, Long Island Sound and its tributaries are faring well as water temperatures continue creeping up from the mid to high 60s with some tidal rivers and shallow bays reaching 70. Meanwhile, despite the almost daily foggy startup, there are more vessels on the water in search of the multi-species fishery now settling in the Sound.

Recently the porgy (scup) bite cranked up another notch, giving porgy pounders steady bites and good catches. Sizes continue to be impressive with some whoppers in excess of 18 inches being caught. That’s a good scup! Single hooks to double-hook rigs tipped with small portions of bait have been effective. Tide matters and water depth varies as these scrappy fish are now being found throughout the Sound. Just find some bottom structure and a school of porgies will most likely be close by.

Catches of sea trout (weakfish) have been ongoing both out on the reefs and definitely along the shoreline. Casters are scoring fish to 20 inches using small baits on a flood tide. Try a bucktail up to an ounce with a strip. In the process, a harbor bluefish could easily take the bait, too. A few more catches of these toothy critters have been caught, as well as a slightly larger cousin.

Striped bass more than 40 inches continue to cruise the shallows during low light hours. Fishing in and around the 10-foot breaks has been successful when using live eels, plugs, and soft plastics including T&W’s. Schoolie class bass and those a bit larger have been plentiful and most likely re-caught since the slot limit has been put in place. Top action has been good, along with bait and small jigs.

Word is spreading. Scup fever is catching on now that the bite is hot throughout much of the Sound. Most reefs and rock piles have them stacked up, so putting together a family dinner is well within reach. Even novices are scoring once they get the hang of it. Try a slightly larger hook size if you are looking for bigger fish.

Scup have company on the sea bottom since other bottom feeders have now arrived. Unprotected sea robins are here in numbers and are also making for a tasty meal. Catches of these critters are climbing with fewer of them released than in previous years. Skate are cleaning the bottom, along with sizable sand sharks that will test you. More northern kingfish are in the bays, coves, and channels, providing good table fare, and there have also been a few surprise cod in deeper waters.

Black sea bass catches remain good, but appear to be slowing down a touch. Fishing deep structure is the way to go for these prized humpbacks, while inshore reefs are producing much smaller fish. Summer flounder (fluke) catches have improved after coming off tough drifting conditions and so-so tides. Creative flukers who are changing up their presentations and being creative with terminal tackle (like adding a spin and glow) are doing well. Fish in the low 20s are near shore, while most doormats have been caught in depths of 45 to 100 feet.

Clamming along the Guilford and Madison shoreline has been quite active. The lack of any substantial rain has kept the beds open and the influence of COVID-19 has kept them quite busy—plenty of clams to catch, though. In addition, blue crabbing action is picking up with numbers of small ones being netted, pointing to a good season ahead.

Best bet for inland fishing has been large and smallmouth bass. There are plenty of pickerel, perch, and sunfish to be caught, as well as some catfish and black crappie. Low water levels and slow flows are challenging the trout anglers. Still, there are some good trout being caught on both fly rod and conventional setups.

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 fly fishing, 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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