Fish develop slowly
Jacob Werkhoven (7) of Washington, Connecticut hooked this striped bass to the limits of a 28.5-inch slot and landed it, making for an exciting and memorable day on the water. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
Mike Briggs of North Branford called in to a school of 16-inch juggernauts piled up on an offshore reef. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
James Cartier of Guilford hooked his best largemouth bass in a local pond while fishing bottom structure and brush. Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan
There are fewer fisheries biologists than fishermen, so let’s keep it simple. Fish are a lot like humans, in that if it’s too hot, there won’t be any fish populations. If there is no food, there will be no fish either. If life were not sustainable, there would be no fish or humans – at least in that location.
Although the Earth’s surface is 71% water and 29% continents and islands, there are only a few places to which both fish and humans can migrate before the balance of nature is compromised or disturbed, to the point of a catastrophic event. When nearshore habitats undergo drastic changes that cannot sustain life, fish move to a more suitable location. Sometimes that means cooler water that involves moving further north. Other times, it might mean being drawn to deeper waters. In either case, the feed must be accessible or traceable.
In short, the search for a better life. Going back to the beginning, at the beginning of evolutionary events, some fish (such as the mud pup and lungfish) developed lung capacity and were able to move from water to land. Snakeheads, which can weigh up to 20 pounds, are another species capable of breathing air using their primitive lungs (supragill organ) while on land, and surviving for several days out of water.
Is it time for people to regenerate their gills like the fictional character Aquaman has in some episodes? Is it time for fish to improve how they breathe air and regain primitive lung function? This is a real stretch, but as Jeff Goldblum said in Jurassic Park, “Nature has a way.” Meanwhile, the success or failure of today’s fisheries is in the hands of fisheries scientists and managers, and those who harvest them.
All of us have a reason (or reasons) for fishing – entertainment, sport, relaxation, food, or maybe it’s not even the fish we catch. think about it! Regardless, we are seeing a gradual movement of southern fish moving into our northern waters. More recently, black sea bass have made an impact and established large fisheries. Other species are identified through surveys, caught by net, caught by hook and line, or in the stomachs of larger fish. Some fish (such as perch, cod, and mackerel from previous generations) have moved north, and even lobsters, for the most part, have recently vacated the Sound.
Times are changing, and with them, Long Island Sound has become a philanthropist of sorts. Marine recreational fishermen are finding that the waters are cleaner, more schools of baitfish are available, and striped bass are being caught, as well as sharks and other bottom fish. It is more important than ever to be good stewards of our fisheries, aware of our surroundings and what makes them work in harmony with all entities involved.
On the water
September’s unusual high pressure system remained in control until it began to weaken. A slow-moving front then impacted the area over the weekend with an associated cold front passing through. During that period, air temperatures reached the 90s before they warmed, creating unsettled weather with rain, thunderstorms and daytime air temperatures dropping into the 60s to low 70s. Tidal water temperatures in Long Island Sound jumped several degrees into the mid- to upper 70s, and were greatest in lower tidal rivers at low tide. Sea level generally remained about a foot high, rising to about 2-3 feet when the heat broke and the winds blew.
The strange September heat slowed down some fish and anglers, however, there was sporadic striped bass activity early in the morning near shore, but as the days passed, the fish escaped the warm water and headed to cooler, deeper water just like it would have been a normal August. . Cut, live baits, bucktails and diamond jigs weighing about six ounces lure the lines from their bunkers to the hook.
Schools of Atlantic menhaden remain scattered but accessible by anglers during the pre-dawn hours and in select harbors and bays. Hackers have become more of a game of cat and mouse, with more success for those who are prepared and in the right place at the right time. In general, bluefish won’t be far behind chasing tails, as opportunistic lines pick up pieces floating below. Diving birds launched explosive blitzes, but they were often more of a covert operation, recognizable only by a committed hunter. These hard and soft double-digit blitzes occurred near shore and offshore. Keep these diamond and swim gear handy, too, to use as topwater plugs when exiting Six Mile, Crane’s, Charles, Faulkner’s and The Beacon. Weakfish are polishing off the trio of bass, bluegills and weaklings as they continue to be part of the catch of the day.
Albies on our doorstep! It won’t be a surprise if they break in and get into the sound by the time you read this, so get those epoxies ready.
Fishing for flounder or summer flounder remains the status quo. Some drifts produce shorter shorts, while others create smaller, better drifts. Larger presentations of drifting baits (squid baits and strip baits) are better suited to producing a meal and fish worth the conversation. There was little change in catches of porgy and black sea bass. It is very possible that these demersal fish feed aggressively and continue to spread throughout the coast in varying sizes. They will both hammer squid and clams, jigs and stripers, including marine worms and imitations. Light gear is fine, but deeper reefs and larger fish require heavier setups to accommodate the extra weight getting to the bottom.
Conversations between fishermen and non-fishermen alike eventually turn to the recent shark activity occurring in the sound. This is understandable, as the speed at which social media travels and the numbers of people reached are extremely fast compared to days gone by. These encounters should be considered friendly fire, keeping in mind that these fish (brown or sand, sand tiger, dogfish, etc.) generally found in the sound are fairly docile and only look for natural forage, most of which are found in Seabed. Therefore, the brushes you use are rare unless they are accidentally tied or bumped. There’s more than one reason why many sharks and sharks prefer fairly shallow waters!
Do you want to test your tackling skills? Remove a good piece of fish and let it settle to the bottom. A small piece of bait attached to a hand line or trap and dropped along the wetlands can easily land blue crabs in season. Scoop nets used on pilings and banks of a tidal river are another successful way to either put a cracking meal on the table, or crab meat in a simmering sauce pot.
There was little change in the freshwater scene. The lakes and ponds continue to surprise largemouth bass fishermen with their recent catches. Fishing for smallmouth bass has been good in both lakes and rivers. Pickerel and panfish take live and artificial baits, while some pike take spinners, catfish and carp take commercial and homemade baits, and crappie are cutworms and jigs. The heat has dampened some of the trout action, but early and late fishing has produced fish using natural and artificial baits and flies.
Fly Fishing Clinic: We are now accepting reservations for September. A great opportunity for the experienced or intermediate fly fisherman! Book your 2023 inland and offshore fly fishing lessons with World Fisher, Certified Master Fly Fishing Casting Instructor and Fishing Lodge Manager, accompanied by an accomplished guide, instructor, enthusiast and local striped bass specialist. From trout, salmon, steelhead, and sea brown to striped bass, bonefish, tarpon, and more, the techniques you’ve learned and honed will improve your fishing.
Reporting Shark/Fish Interactions: Search for photos/videos of shark/fish encounters for research study while fishing in Long Island Sound. Specifically, include photos of a striped bass that has been bitten and/or a shark actually attacking a striped bass while it is reeling. Email CaptainMorganUSA@hotmail.com and include name, hometown, and any other relevant data.
NOTE: Email us photos of your catch to share with fishing friends in the USA and around the world who follow the latest fishing news and frequent social media feeds.
For all things fishy, including the latest gear, fly/fly fishing, rods/reels, clam/lobster supplies, fishing trips, licenses/permits and more, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) is open 7 days a week and located At 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from a full-service Connecticut fishing tackle and certified Penn Premium dealer, where we don’t make the angler, we make the angler better.
very close lines,