Best on the Shoreline!
It's time to nominate your favorites for the 2021 Best on the Shoreline Awards!
Christopher Williams of Lyons, New York flagged and iced this outstanding 26-pound-plus, 45.5-inch tiger muskie, a near world record, using a live shiner while fishing Otisco Lake. (Photo courtesy of Dave Figura )
From February 2020 to January 2021, Josh Sexton of Branford achieved fishing 51 times for largemouth bass in more than 15 lakes, hooking several personal bests for quite an active catch-and-release season. Photo (Illustration courtesy of Captain Morgan )
This hunting American bald eagle clutches a fresh catch in its talons as it heads back to its hungry nesters. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )
People magnetized by the outdoors are more than ready to jettison their winter garb and mix it up with the longer, fresh-air-filled days. Winter has its place, even though it had whimpered the past few years. If we’re to enjoy a good old New England winter, then please bring it on without the multiple breaks of tempered weather. If it’s to be a mild one, then let it be so that folks can settle in to somewhat of a routine.
This year, though, has been full of twists and turns. We certainly have lived up to the familiar saying, “If you don’t like the weather, wait a minute.” Winter is barely half over and that adage just keeps repeating itself.
You can see it in the eyes, expressions, and overall attitudes of people who are reaching out for either a break from the norm or a new challenge, any challenge. It’s still not spring and that equinox is hardly even close. Is it the pandemic talking or have we just had enough of the indoors that spring fever has already taken root? Maybe a little of both, but the feeling is real.
Holding a fishing rod by a warm fire as the snow and sleet pound the sliders doesn’t cut it. Neither does covering the ground and blinding out the sea view. Or taking a last-minute flight. You know, to one of those remote island hideaways where casting to a bonefish or barracuda grasps all your attention. Well, maybe most of it with a sliver left to watch out for those sea urchins.
In recent days, more fishers have embraced the sudden appearance of a real winter and dove into those related activities. Ice fishing has taken on a new life as word of good catches spread throughout the circles of social camaraderie. At the same time, more and more fishers are gearing up for the coming of the spring inland and marine seasons.
With the adjustments to the striped bass fishery, fishers are looking toward lighter setups where they can flip topwaters and subsurface lures to many more smaller slot limit fish frequenting inshore. Farther out, though, it is the 40-inch-plus linesider that requires the heavier gear and is on the radar of the more serious drifters and trollers. An interesting dichotomy is that there were several 40-pounders caught last season in shallow water (less than 10 feet) while fishing the bays and tidal rivers. Consequently, it’s a good practice to keep both a light (10- to 12-pound) and a medium (14- to 20-pound) or medium-heavy (30 pounds) class setup handy for casting. Adjust for braided line as necessary.
On the Ice
February’s new moon did influence the tide tables, affecting the clammers more so than anglers. Leading up to the weekend, we saw a revival of winter with its blustery winds and numbing cold. Air temps dropped as Long Island inshore water temperatures hit the low 30s and below with many of its tidal rivers hardening up and then crunching with the rise and fall of the tides.
Unlike the previous week, hardly any bait schools could be spotted in the frigid water, but that didn’t prevent the birds of prey from carrying out their hunting. With the shift in climate and food supply, there appears to be a greater variety of our feathered friends flocking to our shores, giving birdwatchers glimpses of some unusual sightings like the red crossbill and snowy owl—not forgetting, of course, our increasing bald eagle population feeding along the shoreline.
Putting the winds and recent snow events aside, we probably had more flipped flags and bent jigging sticks occur this past week than in previous ones. Temperatures tanked, giving rise to better ice fishing opportunities. There have been more local lakes and ponds getting into the action now that more ice has built up, and that bodes well for those who prefer traveling less.
Stocked rivers took another weather-related breather due to back-to-back storms. In between there were decent breaks, but only a few worthy of a shot. As long as there was ample running water to keep them from freezing over, there was enough aeration and food to keep trout happy and salmon feeding. Most were eyeing the trout, pickerel, yellow perch, black crappie, and northern pike as their prime targets. However, there were several ice fishers who attempted lakes known in the past for their walleye catches, lakes like Gardner, Cedar, and Mashapaug. So far this season, catches varied, although the best bite typically was later in the day when the sun was falling.
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 clam 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.