Anyone fishing Long Island Sound had to take note of the outstanding season anglers have been having catching Centropristis striata-black sea bass. Not only are these marine reef fish (sometimes called rabalo) attractive and tasty, but also fun to catch. Predominately fished like most reef fish throughout the Atlantic coast and the Gulf of Mexico, they have been caught while drifting baits, anchored, casting into shallow shoreline waters, and in depths exceeding 400 feet.
This type of grouper likes the bottom cover of rocks, jetties, wrecks, reefs, piers, and the like. They are aggressive feeders and if something fits in their mouth, they will probably eat it. However, sea bass do favor squid, crustaceans, clams, shrimp, and cut fish-even small jigs will get the job done for fishers.
When fishing the depths for "humpbacks," it's best to use a sensitive rod and a reel that will crank at about 6:1. If not, your arm will feel the effects by day's end. Braided line is a good choice and a sharp, sturdy 3/0-4/0 off-set octopus or circle hook is a must.
On the Water
The Columbus Day holiday weekend marked the opening of blackfish and tautog season. Temperatures and weather conditions were more fall-like, with colors gradually painting the foliage. A mix of rain, clouds, and some sun dominated, but that didn't deter anglers from a trip to pull some 'togs. Long Island Sound water temperatures are still around 65 degrees with bunker and hickory shad drawing other fish into the shoreline to feed.
Depending on timing and location, whitechin hunters scored well for the opening. The jetties were hot as were some of the popular inshore outer rock piles and reefs. Asian and green crabs split the catches with some 'toggers backing up with seaworms and clams. Chumming definitely helped. 'Togs were caught to 10 pounds, although most were in the four- to six-pound range.
The same pretty much held for the striper bite. Offshore reef action did pick up, however, it was the inshore bite that dominated the scene. Typically for October, weather fronts played a key role, but in between them, action was to be found. Linesiders in the 38- to 44-inch range were caught on eels, other baits, plugs, and flies. Post sunset and pre-dawn hours were the most productive times to fish. Montauk was hot!
While the striped bass bite has been only moderate out on the reefs (but improving), the bluefish bite has been good throughout the Sound. Rips are showing more signs of life with alligators in excess of 15 pounds tearing apart terminal tackle and slicing bait.
Porgy and scup catches are mixed and mainly coming from reefs. Right now, they are dodging both bass and bluefish, so your best bet is hitting the reefs just before slack high or at the turn. Some catches are being made from shore, but slowing down. Sea bass catches are steady, however, the shoreline and many reefs are inundated with juvenile fish and fish below the legal limit of 13 inches. And for those interested, there are plenty of dogfish, sea robins, and other bottom fish eager to pluck your bait.
So far, Atlantic salmon (1,050) to 10 pounds have been stocked, of which 274 went into the Shetucket River. A batch of another 150 fish to 14 pounds are scheduled for November. Additionally, 6,150 adult trout (browns/'bows) have been stocked (Hammonasset, Salmon, Natchaug, Mill, etc.) this week, completing the fall program of 30,000 fish. Look for good fishing now that the rivers are up and flows improved. Anglers should take note of the good northern pike fall bite and get in on the action!
Register now for the popular 26th annual Eddie Beauvais Blackfish Tournament to be held Oct. 18 to 25 and featuring prizes for heaviest two 'togs, a raffle (included), buffet, T-shirt, plus a few surprises, as usual. Registration is $40.
Note: Email us pics of your latest catches to share with our US and International fishing followers.
For all things fishy including licenses, swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline's full-service fishing outfitter, where we don't make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...