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Hunter DaRos, 14, of Branford hooked into this really nice tautog while fishing from his kayak in the Thimble Islands. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
This time each year, endangered North Atlantic right whales migrate from cold northern feeding waters to their warmer southern calving ones. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Thanksgiving would not be the same without gobblers strutting and showing off their colorful holiday outfits. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
The hope is that many more people have something to be thankful for this Thanksgiving than not. For those on the short end, our hearts and prayers go out to you. These past several months have been an eye-opener, as well as a challenge. Many have found strength they didn’t know they had, while others needed a shoulder to lean on.
In our world, we know fishing has roots that could be traced back many centuries. Mostly then, it was for food and sustenance. But as the years went on and anglers became more creative and sophisticated, fishing also became a source of relaxation and entertainment. These past several months have clearly proven that aspect as more and more people came out to the water with hook, line, and sinker in hand.
What’s striking is that many more retired fishers have returned to the scene to fish with friends and loved ones, often passing on what they had learned growing up themselves. They remember the freedoms once had and are eager to recollect them. Like most of us, we’re thankful for those years past and look forward to what lies ahead, even though what has been learned may alter some behaviors.
Unlike the North American right whales that freely migrate 1,000 miles from their colder northern feeding grounds by Nantucket to their warmer southern Atlantic coastal calving waters off South Carolina, Georgia, and northeastern Florida, we have had to endure quarantining. These protected whales are currently en route, but unlike us, they are free to travel. Sure, they encounter obstacles like collisions with offshore vessels or worse, but otherwise, they are unhindered.
Like these whales, we forge ahead, fighting all odds and, in the end, will come out on top with a little help from our friends. We certainly are eager and looking forward to resuming a somewhat familiar and normal way of life, similar to what we enjoyed pre-2020. We are Americans and, as such, know what it takes to survive. All in all, we have a lot to be thankful for—just look around. That being said, Captain and crew wish everyone a meaningful and Happy Thanksgiving, along with thoughts of hope for the future.
On the Water
A cold front blasted its way east, bringing with it sub-30-degree temperatures, 50- to 60-knot winds, and five-foot seas—strong enough to even have toppled the Christmas tree on the New Haven Green and cause widespread electric outages. However, after enduring an area-wide cold spell, the weekend saw air temperatures bounce back to the mid-50s with somewhat calmer seas.
The last thing blackfish (tautog) fishers wanted to see was a break in the rather productive ‘tog bite. That’s what they got as they battened down the hatches before many soon returned to stretch out their season. Southerly winds are typically difficult to deal with, but as they shifted to a more northerly direction, fishers were able to find some protection and fishing resumed. More action was found on the nearshore reefs such as Cranes, Southwest, and Madison. Even popular spots in the Thimbles and out by Faulkner’s produced fish in the three- to five-pound range and better. Crabs on jigs and rigs remain the go-to setups.
Even at this late date, we’re still seeing schools of Atlantic menhaden hanging around. Although some striped bass are enjoying picking away, most of the bunker still seem relatively unfazed by their presence. There are still slot limit fish to be caught, along with schoolies and over-the-slot throwbacks. By the time Thanksgiving arrives, I suspect that these fish will have thinned out as most will have staged along the key tidal rivers before heading upriver. Until now, stripers have been picking at some live eels, bottom chunks, and jigs, while those schoolies were really liking light gear topwater plugs. Check out the night bite and daytime tides in the rivers.
Optimistic porgy (scup) and black sea bass fishers can still try their hand at catching these bottom dwellers. Their season keeps going, but for any decent-sized ones, catching them will most likely be relegated to the deeper offshore reefs. Whereas the sea bass season extends through the end of the year, scup remains open year-round. For those looking for a shot at something closer, try the bays for any winter flounder that may be lurking in shallower water now that things are cooling down.
Inland waters continue to be drawing anglers to the stocked lakes, ponds, and rivers. Trout remains the No. 1 draw and catches have been good on lures, flies, and bait. Look for Atlantic salmon catches to increase as rivers like the Shetucket and Naugy are getting more anglers fishing them. The colorful brood-stock have offered good sport and, afterwards, a tasty meal. Sinking flies have been effective, although spoons have outperformed them lately. Overall, multiple species of popular lake and pond fish have been doing well in between water temperature fluctuations and the cold fronts.
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 reel repairs, 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...