The last cast for many New England anglers is within sight as they begin to count down the days before their hulls are dry docked. There are several fishable days ahead, when parts of the Sound will come alive with striped bass, however, those will be relegated to brief, calmer, sunny intervals. Also, before tautog settle into their semi-hibernative state, there will more opportunities to catch those, as well.
Crunch time has already begun for marinas to clear the slips, especially since below-freezing temperatures that wreak havoc with water lines have occurred. It will be the trailer army of small boats that will be left to dart in and out of the "Big Pond," taking advantage of the season-ending marine catches.
We have all experienced winter gremlins, those indescribable critters that leave destruction in their path-the ones that mysteriously appear to debilitate gear in the dead of night. Only problem, though, is that these invisible things with an appetite for everything metal feed day and night. The end result is gear whose appearance and functionality are greatly diminished.
To avoid these surprises next season, tend to your saltwater fishing equipment within 30 days after packing it in. Most fishers realize that both rods and reels need servicing, but how many of you clean out the shavings from your metal hook and knife sharpeners? You will find that those are the culprits who are rusting and not your file. And how many of you put a dab of bearing lube on those expensive ball bearing swivels? It is the little things like checking for grooves in rod guides, caring for reel bearings, inspecting swivels and hooks on plugs, etc., that can ruin your day.
Fish don't pay attention to the calendar as we do. It's the water temperature, in part, that dictates their behavior. So until that threshold is crossed, enjoy Long Island Sound's last few breaths before season's end.
On the Water
November certainly has been flaky and continues to be. However, we are stepping toward winter's direction as the warm days of yester-week peel back to reveal hard frosts, a few white flakes, and sub-freezing temperatures. Long Island Sound water temps are edging to the low 50s to 56 degrees mid-Sound to 53 degrees inshore.
Docks are becoming more slick during the early hours with fewer vessels moored to them. On land, the familiar sight of bright white shrinkwrap is now becoming part of the scenery.
With all that said, fishers aren't letting go of this season so easily. After all, there are plenty of striped bass offering sport, most of which are in the low- to mid-20s and slightly under the legal limit. Let's not sell the fall season short. Hit it right and there will be a linesider or two for the Thanksgiving feast, making it a real game meal. These fish have not only been chowing down on high-protein chunks, but also are falling prey to bucktails, plugs, spoons, and soft plastics. Majority of the hot spots have been in the vicinity of tidal rivers.
If you are the 'tog-pulling type, then be prepared to give up the comfort of the walls and jetties and to fish offshore in deeper water. That's where you will find blackfish and tautog feasting on green crabs. Of course, you will be exposed to more of the elements away from the protection of the shore-mostly wind. So pick your days and tides carefully and double-check your safety gear. Consider dunking whole crabs, or pieces thereof, at Southwest, Madison, Charles, and Kimberly reefs, as well as Goose Island, The Beacon, and even Townsend's Ledge.
Soft fresh-water action is slowly skidding to a halt until hard water kicks in. Until then, it is mostly river trout, northern pike, and, of course, broodstock Atlantic salmon at the Shetucket and Naugatuck rivers. For you bottom fishers, consider chancing a carp or a catfish trip. When it's on, use highly scented baits for the best results.
Note: Email us pics of your proudest catches to share with our USA 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...