2022 Spring Run Season in the Rearview

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!

2021 End of Season Round up and thoughts about the season to come

The fall season ended pretty well. We had a ton of bunker stick around into October and beyond, which is pretty typical. What wasn’t so typical was that we had big blues on them, sometimes right in the harbors. It was a lot of fun. There were also nice bass on them at times*. Sometimes that window for bass was really small, where bunker were sticking around all day but they would only get attacked for a limited amount of time. These were patterns that held true for awhile…until they didn’t. That’s fishing, the only constant is change. Also worth noting was a pretty darn good jigging bite for blues on the reefs..

Even when bunker weren’t visibily getting eaten or seen at all, lots of nice bass were being caught on bait throughout the coastline. Word got out about this, and it turned into a bit of a slaghterhouse sh**show live bunker fishingsituation. Bummer. As for the bite on artificials, we had a week+ of some awesome night fishing during an unseasonable warm October week. Casting SP Minnows, Bombers and Danny Plugs into shallow, fast current areas was pretty killer. Dozens of fish to 30-40 inches with my pal Carl, and lost some much bigger. Never have I have experienced days when I did not have treble hooks onboard that were strong enought to hold true against these fish… See pic below.

As for the alberts, they were certainly around east of us in September, closer to new haven county. They did come in right around the same time as the blackfish opener (october 10th) and some folks got in on a good bite. It was a fleeting bite, as has been the trend the last few years. They actually did stick around for a few weeks too, but not a ton of sustained, long-lasting feeds.

Blackfishing was pretty typical. I Had one particuarly spectacular day on my vessel where my fiancee got a 9+lber! It pays to fish new areas, as always. Togging isn’t rocket science, find the rocky areas and you will find fish, but the devil’s in the details. Then again, there are some days that drive everyone nuts and fish won’t chew.

The course of fishing in the modern age

Every year I try and reflect on the last season(s), and think about what I want to change. It could be new tactics, expanding my range and trying new areas, or doing more of something I enjoyed in the past. All of these changes are part of the evolution as a fisherman. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat, and there are probably a lot of tactics that haven’t even been discovered yet, or are under-utilized as trends change or they fall out of favor in certain regions.

One trend I have experienced that’s unrelated to fishing tactics is the ‘fishing networking’. I have made more fishing friends on the water since I got my boat, when I knew only a few boats and no fisherman. This is partially a great thing, meeting more people who enjoy the same hobby as I do. Social media has also gotten even faster, and more frequent, with Instagram and ‘live stories’ coming to the forefront of our digital lives. The resulting effect is an influx of information: who’s catching what, and how, and maybe even where. And even on the slowest of days, someone is always catching. Since Covid, there are also a LOT more people fishing. I distinctly remember early spring of 2020 being amazed at how many boats were already out in April and early May, a time when the vast majority of boaters and fishermen aside from the ‘hardcore’, would not be out on the water. All this is to say, fishing seems to have become for some, a very interactive, intelligence sharing, ‘coordinated attack’ type of situations. The result is fisherman checking the latest live reports for updates and to possibly change the course of the ship. Quite frankly I don’t know how the fish populations will sustain these coordinated attacks, but that’s not for me to solve. As you may have caught wind of, there are many conservation policies being considerd by policymakers which I won’t cover. I myself will likely be checking out of the habit of posting my frequent updates on social media aside from a tight crew, and I’m actively trying to take the digital out of the fishing experience as a whole, although it’s not easy.

The season to come

Alright, onto the good stuff. It’s late March, and fish are around the corner. The earliest I’ve gotten them in smaller, ‘non-holdover’ rivers is last week of March (2020). Fishing has been good in the big rivers and the bite has gotten closer to the sound. Some herring have been reported moving into the rivers, although the osprey don’t seem to have arrived based on my observations. The month of January and February the water temperatures were on the lower end compared to monthly averages, and March has leveled out a bit as you all know it’s been very nice early spring weather. In my experience, our fishing locally benefits from a cold winter and early spring, and a quick warm-up in May. Time will tell how this year pans out. Be prepared as last year we had big bass action in late May mid sound, no need to even travel west…

I will post some more intel as good stuff starts to heppen. Until then I’ll be hunting ghosts and making a lot of fruitless casts with cold hands for awhile (based on the most recent forecasts).

Go get em!