Best on the Shoreline!
It's time to nominate your favorites for the 2021 Best on the Shoreline Awards!
Mild winter days are a boon to anglers like Guilford resident Dan Carter, who caught and released this colorful rainbow trout. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Atypical weather and fluctuating temperatures have been creating feeding challenges for local deer as these white tails cautiously stalk Richard Greenleaf of Guilford for a handout. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Fishing lures and flies made stateside could circumvent a constrained supply chain affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
Are fishers getting the jump on this year’s upcoming fishing season because of repercussions experienced with the arrival of last year’s pandemic or are they being prompted by mild weather and tired of being cooped up? Most of the people we talked to said that it was a combination of both. Some even alluded to the difficulty in overcoming the shortage of goods, even to the extent of locating subpar substitutes. Adding that to the list was incentive enough to load up their tackle boxes a little earlier this year.
Thinking back, the social distancing and long lines endured at almost every turn was (and in some cases still is) even more frustrating. As the new year kicks in, one has to believe that there will be an improvement, despite any new challenges that might crop up. Many indications point to our resourceful manufacturers and dedicated workers reversing course.
We already are seeing that happen in some circles, leading us to believe that more people will be fishing, crabbing, and clamming. New products are being showcased with the hopes of a greatly improved supply chain. Those that strictly rely on non-imported materials are anticipated to do much better. However, they’re limited as more and more items have been imported in recent years. However, we do know that fish will be caught and that the means to get to them via the water are projected to be at least somewhat better than last season.
Nevertheless, be prepared. Take the time now to refurbish what gear you can. Sharpen those hooks and knives. Bring out the oil and grease for your reels and pliers that may have sat around for a while. Replace a guide or two on your old trusty rod, along with touching up those favorite flies. You will be glad that you did as you avoid the last-minute rush, while others may not and will come up short.
On the Water
We finally saw a seasonal dip of nighttime temperatures into the teens, followed by daytime ones topping the 30s and eventually into the 40s. During that period, there were extreme tides with small craft and gale warnings, typically followed by sunrises and sunsets that were calendar worthy. Those cold nights not only invigorated ice fishers who had more hard water available to tap, but also quite a few lakes and ponds that remained under the flag of caution.
Those lakes and ponds north of I-84 drew most of the action found throughout the state. There was a mix of power and hand augers at work, popping holes that were later set up for tipups and jigging sticks. Results were mixed as largemouth bass, yellow perch, pickerel, trout, and a few northern pike were pulled from the holes. Some black crappie and a mix of other panfish were also hooked.
For safety’s sake, bring a pair of ice awls and a hand spud to test ice thickness before venturing out. Previous holes drilled are an indication of what could have been safe ice. However, since ice thickness may vary from shore to shore and might have weakened due to fractures in addition to temperature variances, care should be taken.
Inland waters previously stocked with trout and Atlantic salmon that remain open and flowing, are quite fishable and productive. Nevertheless, be prepared for some subsurface hazards that will ensnare your fly or lure. Due to the fluctuation in water levels, debris that has been washed from the banks is sure to entangle your line or make some spots a challenge to fish. Be sure to check out the Trout Management Areas and trout parks, as well as the Wild Trout Management Areas. Take note of the catch-and-release-only waters.
As January winds down and the calendar flips to February, we are still seeing schoolie striped bass activity in the key tidal rivers. Timing is the key and a lighter class of gear (10- to 12 pounds) will generate more hookups. The slot limit is 28- to 35 inches, so most fish caught will generally be released. If you choose to fish bait, then inline circle hooks are now mandatory.
For popular outdoor activity by the water and especially now with social distancing observed, inland bays and shoreline shellfish beds in Guilford and Madison have been quite popular and productive. Licenses are available at Captain Morgan’s, along with the associated gear to get you out on the beds and start clamming.
You may be getting a phone call from area code 352. That’s because the National Association of Atmospheric Administration is looking for COVID-19 related data on its effects on the fishing business. In conjunction with the University of Florida, it is assessing the effects of the pandemic on commercial and for-hire fishing operations and also on seafood dealers and processors. The survey will take less than 10 minutes, is confidential, and will tap a carefully designed random sample. It will be used in assessing impacts on individual businesses over the entire year and also in assessing losses and long-term recovery strategies. This is a follow-up to a survey conducted during the summer on economic impacts for the first half of 2020. More to follow.
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. Or, contact Captain Morgan for a fly fishing trip of a lifetime to a remote national or international fishing destination.
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.