Fall is in the Air

Things are happening!

Out of seemingly nowhere, I get back from vacation and it feels like October, yet it’s only Labor day weekend.  Nighttime temps are down to the low 50s!  Water temperatures dropped 5 degrees in two weeks, which is a lot.  My first fishing trip back yesterday yielded about 20 stripers in two spots, mostly on topwater.  Gone are the days of lazy stripers only eating jigs fished low and slow.  They are hungry and aggressive.  I’m talking bass and blues knocking pencil poppers into the air.  I love it!  They were eating just about every other cast, as I was casting lures into a local rock pile.

Albies have got to be here soon, any day now.  In fact I heard a rumor of a pod of albies this morning in middle passage…  The same report included a big fish that straightened out a hook, and nearly spooled a friend of mine.  Big blues are becoming really common outside the harbor according to some of my colleagues too.  They are moving from their mid sound summer haunts into the shallows.  I believe this is because of these peanut bunker I saw them throwing up yesterday.

Spring Run in Review 2017 & August Bassin

Spring Run Season in Review 2017

At the time, I’m about a month late In writing my season report.  I’ll start it off by saying it was one for the books.  As always, there were some real monsters caught in the western sound and islands this season from May to early July, but this year there seemed to be even more numbers of big fish.  A few notable catches include a 49 pounder caught by Colin Kelly live lining bunker schools in the western sound.  I don’t know many guys who fish as hard as he does, well deserved!

colinfish

Jason Coleman hauled in a 40 inch striper on a soft plastic in some very skinny water in the islands.  Very impressive!  Another likely even bigger fish straightened out a hook in this same spot the next day.  That one hurts…

jasonfish

Your author even managed to join the 40 pound club with a striper caught chunking the June new moon.  I missed the mark by 2 pounds last year, and I was clearly thrilled to hit the benchmark this year.

40fish

Season in Review
We had a lot of bunker schools this year.  Lot of bunker, lot of nice stripers.  One difference this year is that the schools of bunker with fish on them stayed out in the middle of the sound.  A lot times around the far ends of the Norwalk islands you find schools getting harassed early mornings.  While it happened sometimes this year, it wasn’t nearly as common.  I wasn’t able to make a pattern out of it.  We also had a colder than average spring, with more rain, which kept action going for awhile.  Some say rain pushes the bait out.  I noticed this year sometime after a heavy rain (which we had a lot of) the bunker were thick in the harbor, which sort of debunks that theory.

All of that isn’t to say that big fish weren’t caught in tight to the islands.  They were there, just not pushing bunker schools around.  While there were some rumors of sand eels, I can’t say I’ve been able to substantiate that rumor myself.

August Fishing

It’s no secret that August slows down for sure.  I have managed to have days with a ton of stripers though.  Small fish (16-24 inches) for the most part, on a mix of flies, topwater, and small bucktails or soft plastic jigs.  It’s a great time, and I see no reason to stop fishing in the dog days (or better yet, early mornings) of summer.  There are also some quality bass to be had if you put your time in.  We have a TON of small bait in the islands.  Add to that snapper blues and crab hatches, and you have a rounded diet for bass and blues to keep them here through the end.  Bottomfishing has also been pretty solid.  Fishing jigs, rock piles and channel edge will yield some nice fish for the table.

Late Summer Norwalk Islands Striped Bass Strategy

Daytime: I recommend cycling between two groups of lures.  The first is sub surface (as deep as you want depending on retrieve speed and weight).  This includes small swim shads, 1/2 oz bucktails with trailers, or other soft plastics with jigheads.  The second group is topwater.  I like smack-its, creek chub poppers, doc spooks, or gibbs polaris poppers.  The bass will take of these groups depending on their “mood.”

On the fly side, i like small folded foam poppers.  I also like mushmouth flies in blue and white, and the classic clousers and deceivers, all on intermediate line.

Nighttime: Nighttime I switch over to swimmers on the spinning rods.  Typically bomber Long As, SP Minnows, and a variety of smaller Rapala X raps and other swimmers.  Bring a dark and light color of each, and you’ll figure out what they want.  It’s integral you have both, some days they literally will not take a dark lure, but will hit white with reckless abandon.  SLOW DOWN the retrieve at night!

On the fly side, I use the same flies as daytime except skip the poppers.  Again, SLOW the retrieve once the sun goes down.

Tight lines mates.  For questions, reports or input, email james.hollyday@gmail.com .

 

Late May/Early June Islands Updates: Quality Fish there for the Taking

The fishing has been good to great if you know what you’re doing, which is to be expected this time of year.  I’m happy to say I’ve gotten a good amount of time on the water.  I have gotten in about 8 trips in the last two weeks after taking a long long weekend Memorial Day weekend.  There are a few key themes I have been noticing.

Lot of Rain? Fish the Incoming.

Memorial Day weekend we were coming off of a sh** ton of rain.  I opted to sleep in and fish the morning incoming tides, and it paid off.  Over two mornings we managed a bunch of nice fish on artificial lures.  Saturday we had one nice bass at 28 inches under midday sun, another nice one at 26, and plenty of schoolies to keep the lines tight.  We did catch some fish on outgoing too, just under keeper size.  Action was significantly slower though.   The Tuesday before Memorial Day I had another nice 28 inch bass on early incoming tides. That has been the tide that’s getting it done for me so far.  With all the rain forecasted this week, it will be very key going forward.

At night, I have been chunking and targeting big bass.  I have also had my best action on incoming tides then too.  The best results were Sunday and Monday night with nonstop action on bass from 30-36 inches on chunks in about 35 ft of water.  I mean nonstop, 10 fish in that range per night.

Unless you are Fishing Schools, Topwater Not Getting it Done

Despite my love for watching fish explode on topwater plugs, they have just not been getting it done.  I don’t know if it’s a colder than average spring (surface water temps fluctuating between high 50s low 60s) but the topwater plugs have not been producing for me as they have in past years.  The swimmers such as SP Minnows, Yo Zuri Crystal minnows and Bombers have been getting it done.  So are soft plastics such as 9 inch weighted Hogy’s, half ounce to ¾ bucktails with trailers, and shad styles as well.

Big Bait Moving in Thick with Big Fish On Them

This week is the first I’ve seen really big bunker schools tightly packed, looking nervous.  Off Greenwich Sunday I fished a school of bunker getting totally hammered by big blues to 16 lbs.  I mean really big blues.  What fun!  I fished big poppers, testing out a new one called the Shimano Orca.  When the blues were pushing schools around, the Orca almost always got a strike, every cast.  It puts up a huge splash, bigger than most lures I’ve seen.  When the fish weren’t as tightly packed, the Doc Spook was getting it done.  Nothing better than watching blues crazily chase (and often miss) topwater.  I also have reports of big schools off Norwalk Islands.  The Bass a Palooza contest winner was won by fishing bunker schools.  Many captains are targeting them this time of year.  In the weeks going forward, if it’s a calm day you can bet I will be searching behind the islands for schools of bunker.  If they look too happy, move onto the next school.

Bottomfishing Excellent

I haven’t been focusing on Bottomfish, I usually wait till bassing slows down.  However I have taken about 2 drifts In Middle Passage.  Of those 2, I managed a keeper fluke, 18 inch fluke, and keeper seabiscuit AKA sea bass, and no real Sea Robins to speak of.  I’ll take it!  I know I can’t sustain that kind of luck but damn if I won’t try.

 

Fish porn below..

bigblue

kevo bass

katie big bass.jpg

schoolienice schoolie.jpgdoubled up.jpg