With the summer solstice now nearly a month th ago, the days are officially getting shorter, and summer has begun while spring has concluded. Similarly, while it’s not a ‘black and white’ transition, the fishing trends have begin to shift.
First off, let’s start with a recap of the season from collective shared reports as well as my own first hand experience (generally 3 days on the water a week minimum). The season was a strong one, both for the presence of ‘trophies’ (high 30 pound range, to even 40s and rarer, some 50s. It was also strong in the numbers of the medium sized fish in the 20 pound range, and even the slot sized fish: starting as early as mid April during the first big moon. Now, I don’t want my readers to believe that bass as a species have turned the corner and they’re in good shape. This is an oscillation in an overall downwards trend, for sure. And the conservation fisheries policies should be treated as such, in my opinion.
The season followed pretty typical trends: fish showing up in the inner islands, rivers, shorelines and estuaries etc., thick in mid April, with most of the May fishing centered in these areas. Late May into June we begin searching for fish out in deep, open water, generally around bunker schools (think: big meals big fish). Both tactics produced pretty well, but I must say once the open water bite turned on, the shallow water Inshore bite seemed to really dry up (say around May 20th). It’s amazing how the fish can, at times, be so keyed in on certain areas even for weeks. Bait just seems to hold in a given spot and the fish have no impetus to leave. Starting around June 10th, a lot of the best fish were coming at night using bait, as opposed to the more visual topwater fishing that was working really well the prior few weeks. But, there are many ways to skin a cat and everyone has their own favorite tactic.
The bunker supply was pretty minimal this spring, hard to locate at times and/or not showing on top. In the final week in June, it seems to be a 50/50 shot as to whether the bunker were Schooling on top or not. When you did find bunker on top this spring, it almost certainly meant there were some fish around this spring. Now we have an inverse trend where there’s more bunker, less predators. And of course, the bunker have move upriver / inshore as you’ve probably noticed if you’ve launched or motored out of any river these days.
Blues showed up (funny enough) inshore first for me, then pretty thick in deep water. Across the seaboard there are lots of folks catching the biggest blues of their lives and the western sound was no exception.
Fast forward to now, July 21st. Heat wave and finally a little rain, although it’s been an extremely dry summer. River temps are 80 in the afternoon, and anywhere from 70-74 farther out. It’s been a tricky bass bite for those fishing artificials, no doubt. The live bait/chunk bite has still been good, both in shallow (as little as sub 10 feet), and deeper water. I havent touched any bait since early June so I’m relying on friends’ reports there. Summer doldrums are upon us, and fishing after dark or early morning is your best bet. We still have some blues cruising on top, and the Long Island side of the sound has been a bit more active in terms of surface blitzes. There are lots of terns working small bait and I suspect that this will increase. You certainly have to work for the fish this time of year as they spread out, limit their feeding windows, and get a little lazy. It’s a good time to kick the feet up, go for a swim from time to time, and rest up before the fall run is upon us.
Stay safe, fish hard, and make your own report!