14 August 2015

• Connecticut DEEP Marine Fishing Report – 13 August 2015

STRIPED BASS fishing should be good (especially at night) around this weekend’s NEW moon. Fishing continues to be very good in the lower tidal rivers (CT and Thames River) especially at dawn as these large bass feed on menhaden during low light conditions. Three 50 inch striped bass were caught last week from Westbrook to West Haven (all were released). Fishing from sundown to sunrise for trophy-sized “cow” stripers is your best bet this time of the year.Casting swimming lures, surface poppers, and bouncing jigs off the bottom in the shallows at low light has been productive. Also, live lining bunker (Atlantic menhaden), hickory shad or scup on the reefs has been effective on “cow” bass. Bunker (Atlantic menhaden) schools are in the major tidal rivers and harbors with stripers following close behind. Look for hovering or diving ospreys which is an indication of bunker (menhaden) schools.

The usual striper spots include the Watch Hill reefs, Ram Island Reef in Fishers Island Sound, lower Mystic and Thames River, the Race, Sluiceway, Plum Gut, Pigeon Rip, outer Bartlett Reef, Black Point, the “humps’ south of Hatchett Reef, lower Connecticut River, Long Sand Shoal, Cornfield Point, Southwest Reef (outer), Sixmile Reef, Falkner Island area, the reefs off Branford, New Haven Harbor, West Haven and the upper reaches, Charles Island area, lower Housatonic River, buoys 18 and 20 off Stratford Point, Stratford Shoal/Middle Ground, Penfield Reef, around the Norwalk Islands, and Cable and Anchor Reef. Please use circle hooks when fishing with bait (prevent gut hooking) and practice catch and release when possible.

BLUEFISH fishing is very good in the eastern and central sound (Southwest Reef), slower in the western sound, where a pod of adult bottlenose dolphins have been spotted feeding on menhaden. Fish finder rigs baited with fresh bunker chunks has been effective for larger choppers. Bluefish fishing spots include the reefs off Watch Hill, the Race, Thames River, Sluiceway, Plum Gut, Pigeon Rip, lower Connecticut River, Long Sand Shoal, Sixmile Reef, Falkner Island area, New Haven Harbor and upper reaches, lower Housatonic River, buoys 18 and 20 off Stratford Point, Stratford Shoal/Middleground, Penfield Reef, and Cable and Anchor Reef.

SNAPPER BLUEFISH fishing is fair at best in the tidal creeks and rivers. A slow start to the season. Fishing around the top of the flood tide has been better. Snappers are also small for this time of the year (3-5 inches in length). Look for the schools of “peanut” bunker and you will find the snappers. Hopefully, things will pick up as they get larger.

FLUKE fishing has really picked up over this past two weeks with doormats weighing 10 lbs being reported. Using live snapper blues or peanut bunker for bait is the ticket forcatching that trophy doormat! Summer flounder spots include the south shore of Fishers Island (Isabella Beach, Wilderness Point), Napatree Point and along the beach, off the Stonington breakwater, mouth of the Mystic River over to Groton Long Point, Two Tree Island Channel, Black Point/Niantic Bay including the Bloody Grounds, Sound View Beach, Long Sand Shoal, Falkner Island area, New Haven Harbor, off the mouth of the Housatonic River during the flood tide, and around the Norwalk Islands. Minimum size is 18 inches and the daily creel limit is 5 fish per person. Note: New York has the same summer flounder regulations as Connecticut. However, Rhode Island is open with an 18 inch minimum length and an 8 fish daily creel limit. Since Rhode Island has a higher daily creel limit than Connecticut and New York please make sure you abide by the state with the most restrictive regulation when crossing (by boat) state boundaries.

PORGY fishing is awesome...they are everywhere. “Reef Slammers” measuring 14-18.5 inches (“hubcap size”) in length continue to be reported at fishing piers, reef or rock piles in the Sound. Seriously, they are everywhere and easy to catch...go out enjoy the fast paced family fun action. Try Gardners Island, Milford (Charles Island), Montauk and Niantic, Millstone, Two Tree island, (Bartletts and Hatchetts Reef). Porgy fishing has also been reported at these very accessible shore fishing locations: Saint Mary’s by the Sea, Calf Pasture beach, Jennings and Penfield beach, Seaside Park, (Milford), Bradley Point Park (West Haven), New Haven, Harkness State Park, Rocky Neck State Park, Kimberley Reef (Guilford), Meigs Point Hammonassett State Park and Fort Trumbull State Park. Locate your favorite Enhanced Shore Fishing Opportunities for these excellent eating and fun catching “Reef Slammers”. These “Panfish of the Sea” are easily caught on sandworms/cut squid/conch or any other small piece of bait. Contact your local bait and tackleshop for updated fishing information (see page 14 of the 2015 CT Angler’s Guide).

BLACK SEA BASS fishing continues to be fantastic...throughout the Sound. What a fishery! The hot spots continues to be The Race during slack tide/Lower Thames River Reefs/Goshen Reef/Falkner Island/Guilford/Branford Beacon/Middle Ground/Stratford Shoal. Fishing over deep water structure/cobble/gravel in 80 to 120 ft around slack tide will produce some trophy-sized “humpbacks on baited jigs or gulp. It’s important to continue to move from structure to structure and fish around slack tide (stay close to the bottom) to find these beautiful and awesome eating fish. Remember, CT Black Sea Bass regulations are as follows...14 inch min. length, 3 fish daily limit from June 1st to August 31 and a five fish daily limit from September 1 to December 31st. Berkely Gulp swimming mullet (green or hite) on a spro jig and squid with a spinner above works great for these tasty “Bucketmouths”.

BLACKFISH fishing is really good...give it a try before the season closes on September 1 (reopens October 10). There are plenty of these “Reef Bullies” around the local reefs and pilings (8 to 35 feet). The daily creel limit is 2 fish per person and the minimum size is 16 inches. Tautog love eating crabs and mussels...try green, Asian and hermit crabs for bait. Look for “Togs” over shellfish beds, pilings with mussel beds and rock (reef) piles. Anglers please note: CTDEEP and Marine Fishing Clubs have been tagging blackfish with yellow American Littoral Society Tags to determine their movements and growth rates. This critical biological information will help us understand and manage this important resident species to Long Island Sound. Please record Tag Number, Location (Lat/Long), Length and weight of Blackfish and Date of Capture. www.littoralsociety.org 18 Hartshorne Dr., Ste.1, Highlands New Jersey 07732. Thank you very much for your cooperation and participating in Marine Fisheries Management.

STRIPED SEAROBIN fishing is steady for this “hardhead fish with spines and large pectoral fins”. Also called “Poor-Man’s Lobster”, these fish are very common especially when bottom fishing. With fish measuring over 23 inches and “barking up a storm” (grunting noise they make). They love sandworms, squid and any live or dead bait. They are also very good to eat.

HICKORY SHAD fishing is slowly improving. Try the Black Hall River, Niantic River, lower Connecticut River by the DEEP Marine Headquarters fishing pier, Clinton Harbor and the lower Housatonic River. Incoming tide is the key...as this species migrates a lot. These ”CT Tarpon” providing outstanding/fun shore fishing for anglers. Tie on a silver willowleaf lure or a small chartreuse jig (add a 14-20 inch leader) with a slip sinker above the swivel along with light tackle (6lb test main line). Cast to current breaks/channels and retrieve the lure and hold on/have fun.

WHITE PERCH fishing continues to be a good alternative when shore fishing for bass/blues or hickory shad. These tasty perch are found in estuaries (lower rivers), tidal rivers and coves along the Connecticut shoreline. Productive spots include the Pawcatuck River (Stanton Weir Pit/Point), upper Mystic River, upper Thames River (Norwich Harbor) and Niantic River, lower Connecticut River (DEEP Marine Headquarters fishing pier), Black Hall River, Lieutenant River, North/South Cove, Hamburg Cove and Housatonic River. Grass shrimp and or a small piece of sandworm fished on the bottom are the keys to success. You can collect grass shrimp with a minnow net along the shoreline where marsh/eel grass is growing or along dock pilings. They love to cling to the grass or dock pilings...just scoop them up and put them on a small hook.

BLUE CRAB fishing is slowly improving in the tidal creeks. It’s been a slow year. Now is time to get out, try your favorite spot, enjoy the scenery (weather) and catch some crabs for dinner (crab cakes/sauce). Remember...all egg bearing females must be released with unavoidable harm. Minimum carapace length is 5 inches for a hard shell crab. Please contact your local bait and tackle shop for most updated information (local hot spots), legal crab traps and bait to use for your fun-filled crabbing. Legal gear types include: scoop (dip) net, hand line, star crab trap, circular (topless) trap not exceeding 26 inches in diameter. Maryland Style Crab traps are prohibited. Chicken with the skin on (along with a long handle net) is the preferred method to capture these tasty crabs.

Read the full article at this link: Connecticut Department of Energy & Environmental Protection


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