Unique, Treasured, and Full of Life
Taylor Thompson of Madison pulled in this 8.5-inch whopper of a blue crab while working one of the shoreline’s estuaries. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
While out for a day of fluking, Jake Rubino of Guilford hooked into this one that made it to the table. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Not all fluke caught make it to the table. Some make it to the nest. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Michael McNiff )
There’s a precious resource available to people living in or visiting Connecticut, one that offers multiple opportunities for those who enjoy being in and around the water. Long Island Sound, with its estimated 18 trillion gallons of water, is a lively ecosystem consisting of a complex interconnected biological network that interacts with the environment.
With everything that’s wrapped up in this system, there are many ways that outdoor enthusiasts can use this unique body of water and its associated estuaries. As the seasons change, so do the activities. As the weather changes, so does the Sound.
The Sound is sought by many for various forms of relief, especially during the heat of the summer. A vessel suddenly becomes an island substituting as an entertainment center. The Sound is a popular place to swim and cool off and may have a bit of an island flavor if you duck into one of the more popular gunk holes. It is a place to trap or grow food. For many people, though, the lure of fishing is its biggest draw.
The Sound is a stopover place for migratory species and a home for others. They come, feed, make merry, and then leave when water temperatures drop. In between, the fishers play the tides and moon cycles, casting bait and lures into the sea. Sometimes it is rough and temperamental. Other days, it is almost too calm to fish. Each day is different and, as night falls, the bite is often better, mostly with the bass and sharks.
Clammers get to clam, crabbers sometimes wish they had a larger net, and stargazers admire a full sky that might display the Milky Way, but will always show the Big Dipper and North Star on a clear night. There’s so much to do and think about that the lure of the sea often rejuvenates a fisher’s inner ambition to troll the waters for fish—any fish.
On the Water
The heat wave and high humidity continued, only broken up by short morning and evening thunderstorms. Air temperatures easily reached into the 90s as inshore water temperatures broke into the mid-70s. Almost daily, sea conditions flip-flopped with periodic gusty winds kicking them up and then laying down, often preceded by typical early morning summer fog. All in all, fishing conditions wavered, but were not greatly hindered.
There was a noticeable increase in Atlantic menhaden in some of the popular tidal rivers. This influx brought in more concentrations of striped bass and small to medium bluefish. Still, catches did not seem proportionate, even though early morning and late evening saw good activity as temperatures fought to go lower. Plugs, swimmers, bucktails tipped with trailers, chunk baits, and live eels produced various-size stripers. Trolling, drifting, and jigging were prime tactics out on the reefs.
While exploring the estuaries, set out with some crabbing gear. Blue crabs have really popped since the recent heat spell took hold. Jimmies more then eight inches, some soft shells, and enough keepers should make your day.
More and more keeper sea trout (weakfish) are being caught both on and offshore. Connecting with them is either hit or miss, although an incoming tide boosts the odds. Squid, selected scented baits, strip baits, and scarce sandworms are among the good options. On the other hand, fishing for porgy (scup) is just the opposite. They are being caught pretty much at will and with impressive sizes. Just about every reef or rock pile will have a school of fish on it, and catching these tasty scrappers using simple setups with squid and clams is rather easy and fun for the entire family. Unlike other species, there is a generous 30-fish, nine-inch limit (8 inches for the enhanced areas) that can easily support a large family dinner.
Considering that small summer flounder (fluke) continue to outnumber the keepers, fishers are catching greater numbers of fish that exceed the minimum size limit. Some are coming from inshore waters, while larger fish are staging in deeper water and taking bigger whole and strip baits, hi-lo rigs, and drift rigs with teasers. Real doormats continue to be elusive. Also elusive are prized white-chinned blackfish (tautog), even though smaller ones are being caught for the table.
As good catches of black sea bass continue, warmer water temps have moved much of the stock to deeper, cooler waters. The opposite effect is being experienced with many of the bottom fish such as sand sharks, skate, sea robins, and northern kingfish. For these, chunk up some baitfish and fish the bottom with a stouter rod and enough weight to hold bottom.
We still can use more rain for the rivers and streams. Meanwhile, the recent heat spell has made trout fishing more challenging. The basses in the lakes and ponds have fared much better with reasonably good catches in the early and latter parts of the day on topwaters, spinnerbaits, and cranks. This also goes for most other species, except that daytime hours were better for panfish using live bait, while pickerel took to a series of artificials.
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 permits, 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...