29 September 2010

9/29 Lower Housatonic River Fishing Report "A"


Rich N. and I had quite a day on the water on Wednesday. Will take a bit of time to post the full report...so will do it in two parts.

We got off to a late start on Wednesday morning. The sun was already hitting the roof of the barn causing steam to rise off the wood shingles.

Arriving at the marina, we saw that the wind, mercifully, was not bad so we lit out for Middleground.

Approaching Stratford Shoal we could see birds all over the place, however, there didn't appear to be any fish action...no splashes, and the birds weren't diving to pick up pieces of fish...the birds were just sitting there on the water, which is not what we had hoped to find.

Up closer, we could see these were my old friends, the Shearwaters, with some gulls mixed in, and they were dipping their beaks, picking up food out of the water.

The crab hatch that we reported days ago was still going on...and in grand style. Never seen anything like it. There were clouds of tiny "crablets" in the water...must have been billions of them...and the birds were gorging themselves.

Double-clicking the picture may help to see the tiny critters in this photo.

So what we thought was not a good sign turned out to be quite favorable as there had to be small fish feeding on this bounty...and where there are small fish, frequently the bigger guys also hang out.

Which proved to be the case as we got into large bluefish big-time. We lost count of how many we caught [certainly wasn't a 30-fish day] but we caught enough to be tired by the time we left three hours later.

The smallest blue we landed weighed in on the Boga Grip at 7 pounds.

The largest was close to 14 pounds, and most of the others were closer in weight to the largest fish rather than to the smallest.

We tried several different lures on the blues [no live bait] and plain white seemed to produce the most hits.

Rich had brought a bunch of white Kai-Tech plastic lures [he and wife Jan run Newtown Bait & Tackle, Newtown, CT] that we threaded onto 3/8 to 1/2-oz. jig heads. We went through a bunch of them as the blues chewed them up pretty well.

Normally, I prefer to use 1/8 to 1/4-oz. jigs, but the tide was running so hard that we needed some extra weight to get the jigs down to the fish. As long as the tide moved strongly, the fish bite was on.

Of course, our hooking and landing these big fish caught the eye of other fisherpersons and soon we had a flock of boats around us. Fortunately, all of these skippers were relatively well-behaved and there were no incidents, despite the fact that they got, at times, a lot closer to us than was generally acceptable.

These boats were mostly trolling tube & worm setups, although some did stop and copy us by slinging jigs. Everyone was catching fish.

To be continued...

28 September 2010

Tuesday 28 SEP 2007

• Cape Cod Report

“My buddy Jeff was off Race Point the other day when he tossed out a popper. It was pretty quiet, even live eels weren’t working. So in went a pencil popper of his fancy.


“It immediately got hit and broken off by a blue torpedo. Line went slack, lure floated, helpless. But the blue wasn’t finished with this lure, and hit it again and again. Smack, smack. Jeff was able to motor over, and time his reach between hits, and retrieve the popper, ready to fight another day.”

• National Geographic, October 2010

Roy P. gave me his copy of National Geographic for October 2010. Excellent issue shows/tells all about the BP oil spill in the Gulf. The article “Time for a Sea Change” tells/shows how the world’s appetite for seafood “…could soon lead to a worldwide fisheries collapse.”
National Geographic

• Are Striped Bass Populations In Big Trouble?

“This is the question that both scientists and recreational users are asking after studies and inquiries into catch success are pointing to the possibility of a pending disaster. And with all this potential trouble, it seems as if the commercial striped bass sector is not paying attention to what may be happening.

“According to Brad Burns, president of Stripers Forever, the foremost striped bass recreational group in the country, the species is indeed in trouble.“

New Hampshire.com

The chart has data through to only 2008, so where the biomass [green] and landings [blue] drop in 2009...this is just a formal way of finishing off an open-ended chart and does not mean that either one dropped to zero in '09.
Source of chart is NOAA

27 September 2010

Monday 27 SEP 2010

• Connecticut Fishing Tournament October 9

“The tournament will be based on a point system. Awards will be provided for first, second and third in both spin and fly divisions. Blues are worth one point, bass two and false albacore four points. Awards will also be presented for the largest fish. In the event of a tie, the fisherman with the most inches of fish wins."

Charles Walsh in the Connecticut Post

• NOAA Project to Investigate Impacts of Shallow Water Hypoxia in Chesapeake Bay

“NOAA has awarded a team of researchers, led by the Smithsonian Institution, $634,047 as part of a planned five-year grant, estimated at nearly $1.6 million, to predict the impact of hypoxia on commercially and ecologically important finfish and oysters living in the shallow waters of the Chesapeake Bay.”

• Commerce Department to Review Fishing Penalties

“The U.S. commerce secretary…ordered a review of several questionable penalties assessed against fishermen in the last decade after a federal report revealed abusive treatment and high-pressure tactics by the nation's fishery enforcement officers.

The “… report detailed a strategy by the law enforcement office to propose large fines in order to prod fishermen toward settling cases.”
Associated Press

26 September 2010

Sunday 26 SEP 2010

• Eastern Long Island Sound Fishing Report

“River's End Tackle said Pat took some time off from the store to land bluefish and schoolie bass on bucktails at Watch Hill lighthouse. Mark from the shop fished from the beach at Hatchett's Point but the water was still so dirty from all the wind he gave up after an hour casting.”
Tim Coleman in The Day

• Scientists Find 20 Years of Deep Water Warming Leading to Sea Level Rise

“Scientists analyzing measurements taken in the deep ocean around the globe over the past two decades find a warming trend that contributes to sea level rise, especially around Antarctica.

“Greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, such as carbon dioxide, cause heating of the Earth. Over the past few decades, at least 80 percent of this heat energy has gone into the ocean, warming it in the process.”

• New Issue of Salt Water Sportsman Online

New online magazine available. “Editor John Brownlee discusses how sudden cold snaps can take a toll on fish stocks....”

Salt Water Sportsman

25 September 2010

9/23 Lower Housatonic River Fishing Report

Good buddies?

Boater shows how to go through the no-wake zone in style.

Great Blue Heron

Interesting boat. Don't have a clue as to what it's used for.


On the job.

Another GBH

Roy P. and I fished on Thursday afternoon. SE winds @15-20 kts kept us locked up in the River where we had hits from some small bluefish.

Water temps still >70° in the River and a degree or two lower out at the mouth. The word around the docks was that no one was finding fish and that the warm water was to blame, but my records from last year show that water temps were exactly the same and the fishing was much better...so who knows?

24 September 2010

Friday 24 SEP 2010

• “Every Wild Fish Is a Mystery”

“A saltwater angler who hasn't held a large marine fish in his hands and wondered about that fish's life — where it began life, its travels, the things it has seen, the dangers it has somehow survived and the vagaries that brought together fish and angler - is absent a vital connection to fish and fishing.”

• Super Salmon or Frankenfish?

“The FDA is to hear arguments for and against genetically modified salmon, which some say could feed the hungry but which others warn will unleash a 'frankenfish' on the world.”

• Diminishing Water Supply

“With all the new construction going on in Las Vegas, the city has become one of the world’s most popular sites. However, Las Vegas has only one problem, Glennon said, ‘and that problem is an acute one. Las Vegas has run out of water.’”
Utah Statesman

23 September 2010

Thursday 23 SEP 2010

Note: This report is from 2010; for the latest information, please go to:

• The Hazards of Fishing

“Saltwater anglers get pulled overboard by monster fish, speared by billfish and more routinely bitten by the very fish they are trying to dehook. Boats capsize in rough seas and sometimes, like last week at Indian River Inlet, the unexpected happens.”

• Eight Potomac Fishermen Lose Licenses

“The Potomac River Fisheries Commission has revoked the fishing licenses of eight watermen involved in illegal trafficking of striped bass. Three of the watermen--Gordon Dallas Jett, Jerry L. Decatur Sr. and Jerry L. Decatur Jr., all of Stafford County--will never again be licensed to catch striped bass or any other species in the river….”

• Surfcasters Also Need PFDs

“Two fishermen were out just after midnight fishing for striped bass in a creek that backs up to the Cape Cod Canal. Firefighters said that one fisherman had a misstep as he was wading out into the water. The strong current took hold and he was swept out more than a quarter mile into the bay.”

22 September 2010

Wednesday 22 SEP 2010

• Montauk Blitz

“A number of fishermen confessed to frothing at the mouth on a couple of recent occasions while fishing in Turtle Cove, the crescent-shaped beach immediately west of Turtle Hill, upon which the Montauk Lighthouse sits.

“The frothing was caused by an immense mass of striped bass, bluefish, and false albacore all competing for and/or cooperating in a white bait feast. White bait, or juvenile alewives, were most likely the main course.”

• Eastern Long Island Sound Report

“…he had landed nine albies on spinning rods and Super Flukes and lost a couple lures to bluefish chops. There are small blues around from North Hill to Race Point and also news about some large bass caught drifting eels early in the week at the mouth of the Thames.”
Time Coleman in The Day

• Western Long Island Sound Report

“We've had some happy captains lately, who now declare that the fall run is on. Lots of big porgies and all size categories of blues are inspiring the biggest excitement. And as waters continue to cool down, the striped bass will begin to feed again, too. Curiously, only the bunker are still missing.”
New York Daily News

21 September 2010

Tuesday 21 September 2010

• Hurricanes Igor and Julia

We've added a link to NOAA's National Hurricane Center to this blog. To see what the NHC is tracking, go over to "Important Links" on the right side and then down to "Weather: Hurricane Center."

• Food Market Rates Fish

“A few people have asked, “if it’s red-rated, why not stop selling it right now?” Actually, we already stopped selling especially vulnerable red-rated species such as non-MSC-certified Chilean sea bass, orange roughy, bluefin tuna, sharks, and marlins (with the exception of Hawaii-caught blue marlin, sold only in Hawaii stores). Under this new program, all swordfish and tuna from red-rated fisheries will be eliminated from seafood counters by Earth Day 2011. And by Earth Day 2012, all other seafood from red-rated fisheries will be discontinued with the exception of Atlantic cod and sole, which will be sold through Earth Day 2013.”
Whole Foods Market

• Tin Lures Work Well

“One lure that truly shines at this time in the season is a utilitarian classic, the tin. Tins, also called casting tins or metals, are a group of lures made out of solid metal in some variation of a basic “spoon” shape, with a place to clip your line on one end and a hook on the other. They have been part of the striped bass fisherman’s arsenal for at least 60 years, probably longer.

“Tins offer the angler several advantages….”

• 2010 Continues Near Top of Temperature Records

The first eight months of 2010 tied the same period in 1998 for the warmest combined land and ocean surface temperature on record worldwide. Meanwhile, the June–August summer was the second warmest on record globally after 1998, and last month was the third warmest August on record. Separately, last month’s global average land surface temperature was the second warmest on record for August, while the global ocean surface temperature tied with 1997 as the sixth warmest for August.”

• International Fly Tackle Dealer Show to Move to New Orleans

“AFFTA Chairman, Jim Klug of Yellow Dog Fly Fishing Adventures, made the announcement that AFFTA intends to take IFTD to New Orleans, LA for 2011. The planned dates for the show will be August 18-20, 2011.

The AFFTA board authorized AFFTA President, Randi Swisher, to begin negotiations and make the arrangements necessary to bring the 2011 IFTD to New Orleans. The board was extremely enthusiastic about the opportunity to show support for the Gulf Coast region and to show that the fly-fishing industry is committed to helping the region recovery.”

20 September 2010

Monday 20 September 2010

• CTDEP: $23,000 to Restore Oyster River Marsh in Milford/West Haven

“Phragmites is an aggressive plant species that has taken over thousands of acres of marsh in Connecticut. A tall, perennial grass that grows in brackish, tidal fresh water and non-tidal freshwater wetlands, native phragmites have grown in Connecticut for a very long time. It is estimated that ten percent of Connecticut’s tidal wetlands are dominated by phragmites.

“Thick stands of phragmites form a barrier to the movement of animals and large birds such as ducks, shorebirds, and wading birds and also restrict tidal flow. The shade from large stands of phragmites hinders the growth of native plants and plant diversity is reduced. Overall, the presence of phragmites appears to be detrimental to the overall ecological functioning of tidal wetlands.”
Information on phragmites: Wikipedia

• Remains of Man Found in Tiger Shark

“Authorities were able to use fingerprints to provisionally identify the body parts as belonging to Judson Newton, 43, who vanished late last month. Authorities are awaiting DNA test results before formally identifying Newton, said Hulan Hanna, assistant commissioner of the Royal Bahamas Police Force.”

• Black Sea Bass Season Extended

“…the 2010 open season for black sea bass in the recreational fishery has been extended. The measures outlined below apply to all state and federal waters between Maine and North Carolina. BLACK SEA BASS: Minimum Size: 12.5 inches excluding the tendril (long filament on the tail). Creel Limit: 25 fish. Open Season: May 22 through October 11 AND November 1 through December 31.

“Black sea bass possession is prohibited between October 12 and October 31, inclusive.

“Formerly, the 2010 season was to close after September 12….

“For further information, contact the DEP Marine Fisheries Division by email at dep.marine.fisheries@ct.gov, by mail at P.O. Box 719, Old Lyme, CT 06371 or by telephone at 860.434.6043 between the hours of 8:30 AM and 4:30 PM, Monday through Friday.”

19 September 2010

Sunday 19 SEP 2010

• NOAA and the CTDEP: "They don't know what they're doing….”

“The state Department of Environmental Protection and the Mid-Atlantic Fishery Management Council are considering a catch and trade system for fishermen, be they charter or commercial boats. The proposal would allow fishermen to buy, sell or trade catch shares and their permits. But some say the plan will squeeze smaller boats out of business.”

• RI Offers SWFF Workshop

“The Department of Environmental Management is sponsoring a saltwater fly-fishing workshop Sept. 25 from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. at the Kettle Pond Visitors Center in Charlestown.

“The workshop will cover equipment, casting, baitfish, and where and how to fish for striped bass, bluefish and other game fish that are moving through Rhode Island waters.”

• Norwalk Boat Show Coming Up

“You know it's fall in Connecticut when the annual Norwalk Boat Show turns the Norwalk Cove Marina into a boater's paradise.

“The 35th annual Norwalk Boat Show is coming this Thursday through Sunday, September 23-26." StamfordAdvocate.com

17 September 2010

9/16 Lower Housatonic River Fishing Report

Under Construction

As we had a high tide at 0654 on Thursday morning, early light caught me at the Sunoco station filling the gas guzzler [actually it gets 20 mpg which isn't too bad].

The sky foretold a nice day ahead, but we knew better as the forecast said things would get messy in the afternoon.

Also, one has to keep in mind Capt. Skip's first rule of weather forecasting: Bad weather arrives earlier than forecast.

The sun was well above the horizon by the time Val S. and I met up at the marina.

In mid-September, as waters cool and shadows lengthen, it begins to be less important to be on the water at early and late hours as the fish remain in shallow water longer before warmth and light chase them to the depths.

Out on Long Island Sound the western sky showed cirrus clouds coming in...a definite indicator of impending change in the weather.

We scooted to MiddleGround, hoping to get there, get fish, and get back before wind and waves could get out-of-hand.

There were birds all over the place at MG. From a distance it looked as though they might be on blitzing fish...but as we got closer it became apparent that the birds were feeding on small baitfish.

Click on the picture to enlarge; you can now see how many birds were there.

Tried to figure out what kind of birds these were. They looked like immature gulls, but there seemed to be too many of the same configuration. If they were young birds, one would expect to see some older birds in the mix...but they were all similar.

Upon consulting Mr. Audubon, came to the conclusion that they were not gulls, but rather Shearwaters...although of which variety, am clueless. If anyone has other ideas, would appreciate hearing them.

[Added on 18 SEP: I sent photos of the birds to an expert, http://birding.about.com, who confirmed that they are Shearwaters, probably Cory's Shearwaters.]

At any rate, the birds were feeding on small organisms floating on the surface of the water. Val and I concluded that it was a crab hatch and the shearwaters were feasting on those minute hatchlings.

As to fishing, the blitz wasn't there, but persistent casting yielded a few fish including this nice striped bass...not a keeper...returned to the water.

A head boat [party boat] pulled up on the shoal and began bouncing live bait off the bottom.

We didn't see them hook a single fish.

Eventually the boat moved off to the east where it seemed to stay for quite a while...perhaps finding better luck over there.

We kept casting around the MG rocks and picked up the occasional cocktail blue. We ended up keeping five of them that Val took home for his smoker.

Smoked bluefish is a real treat.

We landed some large bluefish as well. This one weighed in at ten pounds on the Boga Grip...and another pulled the spring down to seven pounds.

The Boga is a secure landing device that grips the fish's lower jaw thus allowing the angler to boat the fish without losing any fingers.

The Boga also has a built-in scale that allows fairly accurate weights to be obtained.

MG ran dry after a while so we headed back to the mouth of the Housatonic River and worked some casts along the breakwater.

These gulls seemed to believe that food was just at their feet...as though gamefish were in the water below them, occasionally pushing baitfish up to the surface where the gulls could grab them.

Sure enough, we found more cocktail blues and three more striped bass...two of which fell to the fly rod.

If you click on this photo you can see the bend that a 21-inch striper can put into a 7-weight fly rod. They are strong fish.

Another great day on the water.