Friday, May 14, 2021

Sports

Rebuilding Bluefish is a Top Priority

1

Have you seen chopper blues lately like this 23.45-pounder caught by Jean Hancock (an avid angler from Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard) while fishing the 1972 Derby? Probably not. This is one of the reasons for the Bluefish Allocation & Rebuilding Amendment that is currently being proposed. Photo courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Bass & Bluefish Derby

Have you seen chopper blues lately like this 23.45-pounder caught by Jean Hancock (an avid angler from Chilmark, Martha’s Vineyard) while fishing the 1972 Derby? Probably not. This is one of the reasons for the Bluefish Allocation & Rebuilding Amendment that is currently being proposed. (Photo courtesy of Martha’s Vineyard Bass & Bluefish Derby )

2

While ice and snow are now memories, this fine example of a tiger musky caught by Josh Messina of North Branford shows that this species is stocked, fished for, and caught in some of Connecticut’s inland waters—and worth every bit the effort. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

While ice and snow are now memories, this fine example of a tiger musky caught by Josh Messina of North Branford shows that this species is stocked, fished for, and caught in some of Connecticut’s inland waters—and worth every bit the effort. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan )

Some say that bluefish (Pomatomus saltatrix) are cyclical in nature. Others paint with a broader brush. On the other hand, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says they are simply overfished.

Blues live up to 12 years and reproduction maturity occurs at age two, when they are 15- to 20 inches in length. They spawn multiple times during spring and summer, however they cannot keep up with the various pressures that their stock faces, even though they are fast growers and females can have as many as two million eggs.

As a result, due to the 2019 stock assessment containing commercial and recreational data, the population of bluefish was shown to be significantly less than target levels of 100,000 metric tons. That triggered a timeframe of two years for the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council to develop a rebuilding plan.

A series of five virtual public hearing meetings encompassing 14 Atlantic states, including the Potomac River Fisheries Commission, were held to receive input regarding the rebuilding plan. Presentations, questions, and comments made up the bulk of the meetings with all input documented for the record. The roughly 2 ½ hour Connecticut and New York meeting held on March 30 had several key management issues under consideration on the agenda.

Those issues included fishery management plan goals and objectives, commercial and recreational allocation, commercial allocations to the states, rebuilding plan, sector quota transfer, and management uncertainty. Allocations, quotas, transfers, and data quality were all at issue. We have all noticed a change in the numbers of snappers, harbors, and alligators appearing in the Sound. We also noticed a decrease in the number of blitzes occurring. With public input and the ensuing discussions, the hope is that an effective and meaningful management plan will eventually be put into effect using the best science and most current data available.

On the Water

There were some outstanding days where air temperatures approached 70 degrees and winds calmed, although spring rain was definitely in the picture. Inshore Long Island Sound temps tapped 45 degrees, motivating clammers to close out March during the phase of the Full Eagle Moon and take advantage of extreme negative low tides. Not to disappoint, the days have been typically springlike, dodging what little is left of the wintertime vibe (including a cold front), while embracing new growth and welcoming fish migrations.

Trout season continues to ramp up as stocking continues and the weather is breaking favorably. Inline spinners, swimmers, natural, and scented baits are scoring with the spin anglers, especially those sporting light gear. The recent rise in air temperatures and the added rainfall has created good conditions. Late-day sun and light breezes sparked hatches that prompted more dry fly activity, while early mornings upped bites on weighted nymphs and streamers. Check out the lakes and ponds for pre-spawn bass action, as well as runs of smallmouth, pickerel, yellow perch, northern pike, and tiger muskies. The time for channel catfish and springtime carp is now.

Blackfish (tautog) season opened on April 1 to what ‘tog pullers hope will be a fruitful season even with the ‘tog stock currently in a rebuilding mode. The increase in water temps aided in a somewhat varied opening bite, but we have a bit to go before movement improves. Prior to the weekend, air temps tanked to less than 30 degrees, while water edged a few degrees lower and seas kicked up. This had a negative influence on the early bite, but it gradually improved after Easter.

Striped bass action gained more steam in the lower tidal rivers and along the beaches as schoolies gulped sea worms, clams, swim baits, soft plastics, small jigs, top waters, and spoons. Bait fishing means circle hooks. Flies such as clousers and deceivers worked well on an 8 weight and slow sinking line. The back side of the recent full moon was decent, but at times the stiff winds created challenges, depending on direction. There was little in the way of winter flounder catches during their opening, mostly due to weather conditions. As the winds calmed down, some of the popular inshore bays produced catches. Medium trout-size setups fished with light bottom weights and soft natural baits brought in daily creel limits of two at 12 inches.

Contest

Captain Morgan’s 16th annual Codi and Bubba Memorial Trout Contest is scheduled to kick off on Saturday, April 10 at 6 a.m. The deadline to register is 6 p.m. on Friday, April 9. Fish anywhere and bring your catch to the shop for weigh-in. Five bucks gets you in and kids under 12 fish free when accompanied by a registered adult. Donations gladly accepted. Prizes for the top trout weighed. Date subject to change pending any last-minute pandemic restrictions. We are looking forward to another fun-filled event!

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 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.

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan

captainmorganusa@hotmail.com

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