The Clock is Ticking and the Fish Are Biting
In pursuit of striped bass, Joshua Massa-Pelletier of Meriden fishes the shoreline, but hooked this Connecticut River striped bass up a ways near Deep River. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan)
Fishing the Hammonasset River for trout, Jill (up from Annapolis, Maryland) hooked into this fine brookie on a return trip to Madison to fish her local waters. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan)
Nicholas Dietz of Madison, an ardent angler, landed this hooked-jaw breeder trout while fishing the productive Hammonasset River. (Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan)
Excitement is building as attitudes and conversations are taking on a more optimistic feel. Fishers who have yet to take to the water are quite eager to do so, even if their vessels have not yet been totally prepped. That being the case, they are heading to inland waters or gravitating to the beaches and jetties to do their fishing. Some are coming out to the shore to shake off cobwebs and breathe the fresh, briny air as they take a few planned practice casts that surprisingly hooked up.
Folks who have not fished for years—or perhaps never—are being introduced or reacquainted with being on the water. It really doesn’t matter whether we are talking trout on the sweet water or striped bass on the briny—engaging with the outdoors is rejuvenating enough. Adding the excitement of catching a fish is just topping off the day.
It’s already May. The season sneaked up on us and appears to be moving ahead more rapidly than in the past. Many small summer flounder (fluke) are in, the baitfish have been here, water temperatures are climbing, and even Spanish mackerel are making an appearance. However, Memorial Day is more than three weeks down the road, so the Sound is really on schedule. The only difference is that inland fishing kicked off with a bang earlier and already we have been catching trout for more than two months.
It’s past time to pay attention to what’s happening with Mother Nature. That is what the fisheries are reacting to and precisely what fishers should be doing if they want to hook up and share in the experiences of others who have been taking advantage of this year’s action in the sweet and briny habitats. Good fishing all!
On the Water
Long Island Sound had its fill of chop and gusty winds that created challenging days for vessels, yet gave a break for many shore casters. Waters eventually settled down after the shoreline had its share of rain and early morning fog. Inshore water temperatures topped 50 degrees in spots, while central Sound topped off in the high 40s as fishing in those waters gained momentum.
Anglers unfamiliar with using circle hooks are currently into their learning curve, understanding the dos and don’ts of hooking up. Do raise your rod, pick up slack line, and continue to reel when feeling a bite. Do not set the hook as one might when using a traditional hook. That would surely result in a missed fish as both bait and hook most likely will be pulled out of the fish’s mouth.
As the days mount, more fishers are catching and, in most cases, releasing slot-limit striped bass. Some are being kept for the table, but at the moment, most of the ones caught are released to swim another day. Activity along the beaches has been good as linesiders are taking live and frozen baits, artificials, as well as menhaden and shad. Ten- to twelve-pound test outfits are performing well, although slightly heavier setups can provide that little extra assurance.
Releasing your catch properly will go a long way in reducing mortality. Cut the line close to the hook if swallowed, hold the fish horizontally to cut down on stress and internal damage, and face fish into the current while holding its tail and moving it side to side until you feel the kick. Notwithstanding the weather, multiple catches per trip have been semi-regular, leading one to believe that the use of light- to medium outfits will provide enjoyable recreational fun this season.
Spotty catches of sea trout (weakfish) have been caught as they make their spring run. Sea worms, squid, and flies have been successful from Six Mile to the West Haven sandbar, as well as key tidal rivers along the shoreline. Bite-size baits are generally best and a net is useful, considering that their soft mouths easily tear. Winter flounder catches remain so-so, but doable when fishing the bays and channels during periods of less wind and calmer days. There is an uptick of porgy (scup) in the area. Be prepared for catches of some sea robins and dogfish when bottom fishing, followed by fluke down the road as water temps rise, even though the season opened on May 4. Blue crabbing season is now open!
Inland fishing remains on solid ground as more stocking takes place. Rainbows, brookies, browns, and tigers are regularly being caught—even some really nice breeders. A mix of anglers have been hitting the rivers and streams, successfully stripping streamers and drifting nymphs and dries. Anglers have many choice waters as to where to cast a fly. Conventional anglers have been doing well with natural live and scented baits, inline spinners, and swimmers. In fact, several anglers not only bring along fly rods, but also ultra light spinning outfits to meet the need.
After the weather broke favoring springtime, lake and pond activity took a shot in the arm. In several cases, pre-spawn moved into the spawning season, where largemouth nests are now being protected—a good time for catch and release. Smallie action is good. Pickerel are hitting hard. Yellow perch continue to bite. Sunnies are taking live and small topwater flies. Crappie are liking small jigs, while pike, catfish, and carp are being hooked. For upper inland action, salmon season is open through Tuesday, Aug. 31. Check out the American shad run.
The first of a series of saltwater fly fishing clinics is scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 8 from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. at one of our local and productive Long Island Sound flats. A food break is included in the $225 package. For more details or to register, contact Captain Morgan at 203-245-8665.
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 reels, 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.