Labor Day has come and gone. This marks the time of year when most people pack away their speedos and bikinis, white pants, stow away the swim ladders, paddleboards and small boats, and prepare the Pleasure Vessels for winter storage. Cheese and cracker boating is close to an end. The nighttime/morning temperatures are getting down to the 50s. But, for others, things are just beginning. This is the beginning of the 2nd season for hardcore fisherman. The fall run. Bass and blues will start making their way south, baitfish will leave the rivers and estuaries as well, and mayhem will ensue. Our seasonal visitors, Bonita and False Albacore, will start moving in any week now. And for bottomfishing we have Blackfish season opening in October. It’s a glorious time of year.
So what’s the game plan? Well first off, the bassing is gettin’ good during colder mornings. There is a ton of peanut bunker, and cocktail blues around as well. More than I have seen in some years which bodes well for the future I hope. I managed a 33 inch striper in the islands last weekend, and it’s only getting better. It has not been calm enough to go look for tailing blues in a while, and they seem to do that on really hot days anyway. If you want to weed out small fish and target the big boys, chunking fresh bunker or small bluefish, particularly at night, can yield some monsters. You don’t have to go far, right in the islands and harbor will produce big fish.
On the tuna front, the rule of thumb is September 15th. I am told the last 5 years before 2018 that Albies showed up on the 15th, just easy of us in Milford/Stratford area. My good friend Mat over at ctangler.blogspot.com tells me this, and this guy loves to hunt these fish. Last year I found them September 28th, and I don’t know of anyone catching them before that rough time period. Load up on jigs and soft plastics for these speed demons, and even some baits imitating peanut bunker. On the fly side, surf candy flies are my favorite. Clousers will get it done too. Right now guys are consistently getting them in Nantucket/the vineyard, buzzards bay/north shore Mass, and Narragansett area. Also guys going offshore are seeing huge schools of them. So they are heading west right for us. Sit tight, and keep your eyes out! I fished Rhode Island last weekend and the number of Bonita is astounding. This very well may be the year they show up locally, for the first time in years.
It’s mid August, and we’re in late summer mode. Weather wise, we had a really hot stretch a few weeks back, and it’s sort of stabilized. The ‘spring run’ ran pretty late this year into mid to late July. Bunker schools getting whacked and fish being really aggressive. That has subsided for now though. It doesn’t meant there aren’t fish to be caught, you just have to modify your tactics. There’s a few things you can do. You can wake up early and fish sunrise when the water is coolest, and plug the shoreline and islands, throwing anything from flies to topwater to jig/soft plastic combos. At the very least you should find schoolies, small annoying blues, and maybe even big blues. We had a stretch of big blues (like 15 pounds and heavier even) in the middle of the sound since late July/early august, ‘tailing’ around on calm hot days, and if you throw a plug in front of their nose they would whack it. Sight casting to these bruisers was really, really fun. Some say they’re digesting food. I observed some groups of 2 fish swimming in circles together; hard not to assume they were mating but I don’t pretend to be a fish biologist. Blues of the same size can be found eating small bait in the middle of the sound this past week, really aggressively. They were pretty much eating anything you would throw at them. A lure With single hook is recommended for ease of the release and health of the fish (as well as your hands). Another tactic you can do is throw swimming plugs (think Bombers, SP Minnows, Yo Zuri mag darters) at night amongst the same shoreline / island shallow structure. Things can really turn on at night. Keeper bass can be caught all summer this way. It’s an old school technique and it works. You can always Chunk morning or night too. Shallow or deep. You can also drift sandworms over structure, with a long 6 ft leader. This is another old school really productive technique that’s fallen by the wayside amongst fishing circles. Or you can skip fishing for bass and bottomfish. Fluke are in deeper water (50+ feet), and there’s less of them, but bigger ones. Porgies are always abundant and are tasty. And keeper sea bass are generally on deeper wrecks. Or, you can give up on local fishing and go to montauk / the Race for generally better fishing. Tight lines
Well the water is warming up finally, although it’s still a good bit behind average (hovering about 64 compared to July avg. of 69). The amount of bunker around is starting to get to a normal level for this time of year: They’re plentiful behind the islands. We have had some good bites on these bunker schools the last few weeks. All the way out in the middle of the sound, usually around sunset, or an hour beforehand. The bite on artificials in the islands has been spotty for me, but there’s been a few good days, and some nice keeper size bass inside have been taken. When it’s on, it has generally been a visual sight fishing bite for me. And the sand eel thing has wound down unfortunately. Guys west of us in Greenwich to Pelham and the New York Bight are still catching quality fish, and so are we in the eastern part of the county. I’m hopeful for this summer, I think we may have a mid to late summer strong bite with lower water temps and (finally) good big bait presence. When It gets really hot the bunker will start to move into the islands and eventually the rivers I believe, after their spawning rituals. This is going to get the bass really fired up, and give them an opportunity to ambush in the local rips. Get out there and see for yourself. Let me know how you’re doing, and tight lines !