September Report & Tightlined Slam

Bass fishing has been very good locally: both jigging in deeper water and casting a variety of lures in shallow fast-current areas. The weather remains pretty warm, but we are starting to have nights intro the 50s, which is kicking up the aggressiveness of bass and blues in a major way. Bottomfishing is also still pretty killer, with more sea bass moving into shallow depths which make a great ‘take-home-for-dinner’ fish, without having to drop a pound of lead down which isn’t so fun. Last but definitely not least, falseAlbacore have arrived in the western sound! It’s a great time to get out on the water and enjoy crisp humidity-free days, and bent rods. There is a local fishing tournament this coming weekend, for more Information visit https://www.tightlinedslam.com/ . This tournament is catch and release, and proceeds benefit charities related to conservation. Even if you do not wish to enter, the after-party is a great time, with raffles, food and drink. Tight lines and happy Autumn.

Season Review & Transition Time

As usual, I get way too caught up fishing, working etc., and I am way behind on keeping up this blog. I do publish weekly reports via Rex & Cove Marina’s ‘Harbor Talk,’ so feel free to reach out if you’d like to be added there. Since I have a lot of time and reports to cover, I’m going to summarize the fishing from May until now, and get to the present report as, I imagine, everyone is excited to see what’s happening now.

1. The boat went in later than usual this year, mid May. This was due to new docks and lots of boat improvements for me. Anyway, off the bat I had good fishing for schoolies. As usual the action starts in the rivers and estuaries where the warmer water and bait is focused. Nothing crazy in terms of notable catches.

2. We had an early run of big fish feasting on Menhaden in mid sound, despite a snowy, rather cold winter. May 23rd was the first time I found fish feeding in this pattern.

3. In addition to the big bass mid sound on Bunker early, there were more blues cruising on the surface than I have ever seen to my knowledge. This lasted until about mid/late July.

4. Until about late June, all the bunker were in the middle of the sound, as opposed to the rivers. At least not in the Norwalk river which is my home port. If they were around, they must have been down deep. Even mid-sound the bunker schools seems at time isolated. If you could find them, then almost certainly you found bass and blues on them. And, this resulted in some truly wild afternoons and mid mornings.

5. By mid July, this all changed. The bunker showed up thick in the rivers. We also had a pretty rainy July, which displeased a lot of people. But, it certainly resulted in a good July fishing-wise. The nasty weather created some great fishing conditions, and the bunker abundance helped as well. In fact, this was one of the better years for summer fishing. It is a trend I am noticing the last few years… where the island bite doesn’t seem to be heating up until late June to early July- a time when traditionally the summer heat slows bassing down. Even until early August, good fish are being taken – on topwater, in sunny midday conditions.

6. We are also seeing more blues mixed in with the bass inshore. All those blues we were catching in the middle of the sound are moving into the shallows it seems. I hope it keeps up.

Fast forward and here we are in mid-August. The bassing is still pretty decent. We are starting to see an influx of smaller ‘peanut’ bunker. Presumably, because bunker have just finished spawning. To our east we have seen the first arrival of exotic species, Spanish Mackerel. Farther east and offshore we have Bonito. We hope these fish continue west into our wheelhouse, and are supplemented by our friends the False Albacore. The ‘Albie’ bite was pretty crappy last year, aside from a one or two day period on our side of the sound. So fingers crossed for a rebound by our favorite speedsters. There is a lot of small spearing around, and the adult Menhaden seem to have thinned out. Admittedly, I haven’t spent as much time on the water as usual the last two weeks, but this should be changing. It’s also a good time to mix it up and do some bottomfishing for Porgy, Fluke and Black Sea Bass. I had some lackluster results in spots where I typically land some big Sea Bass, but I’ll be putting more time in there soon.

I hope everyone is having a great summer, and I’ll see you around on the water catching. Mahalo!

Chasing Ghosts

There is something extremely appealing to me about hunting early season stripers. When I say early season, I mean March and April. And I mean rivers where bass seasonally arrive and depart. Not the rivers where bass “hold over” and can be caught all year long. Nope, that doesn’t do it for me.

I think it’s the mystery and the suspense that makes hunting ghosts so appealing. When will the first fish be caught? Where will it come from? A local fish that expanded its territory in search of food , encouraged by early spring warming periods or migratory baitfish? Or a traveler, from the Chesapeake, the Hudson, the Susquehanna or New Jersey? Maybe even from deep waters offshore. The striped bass is an oft studied fish, but it still feels very mysterious to me.

The first striper is always sweet. It’s a sign that Winter is over, and it’s time to really dive into the hobby we love. Game on, they’re here-No more messing around. It’s almost never a big one, but it’s symbolic. I pride myself in trying to be the first guy around to get one. Let the internet heroes commence their fishing pursuits after the first positive report shows up. It’s almost always at the same time-early to mid April. I’d say between the 4th and the 13th, like clockwork. Predictable, but still suspenseful. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve been waiting 4 months, putting my hobby on pause, that makes it so sweet.

The first may not be big, but there’s almost always bigger ones to be found after the first. It’s like an oasis in the desert of a long New England winter. That first hit is usually after many fruitless casts with cold, wet hands. Even a dinky fish can be a bit jarring after so much waiting. A little sign of life. Often times I’m so trigger happy that retrieving a lure into a rock or a log will fool me.

I like seasons, what can I say. And I love the first bass of the year. We’re almost there. God bless the striped bass-may the stock be plentiful and sustained for our kids and grandkids to enjoy them.

James