While many outdoor folks have turned their attention to the fall hunting season, enjoying fall festivities, and tending to the season's chores, others are hitting the shellfish beds. Yes, I said shellfish. Surprised?
A shock to many of those who felt that it was strictly a warm-weather activity performed in bathing suits and shorts are now finding out the contrary. What they have been missing out on are fresh, chilled clams, oysters, and mussels. They have also been missing out on a popular fall outdoor activity and an opportunity to mix it up with family and friends in the great outdoors of Long Island Sound.
Some warm clothes, a pair of fishing waders, a rake, bucket, culling ring, and permit are all that are needed before hitting the beds. It will take about 15 minutes to get ready after arriving at your spot before you are on the flats or in the water gathering a great food resource.
The full moon shown brilliantly the night before, accompanied by a mild, cold offshore breeze. High tide levels were extreme, indicating, as in the previous tidal change, that low tide levels would also be comparable. To a shell fisher, those low, low tides are the absolute best time to scratch for clams.
True, the colder water temperatures drive the clams a bit deeper, however, there is more bottom exposed, allowing greater opportunities for clammers to search. It didn't take long before the sun's rays warmed the body enough to become comfortable-somewhere between chilly and warm.
In spite of the saltwater being warmer than the air, the shells of these bivalves were cold to the touch. One could hear them saying, "Crack me open and have a taste." Not being able to ignore their request much longer, I obliged. So good! If you haven't done so already, consider a holiday plate of freshly raked clams and culled oysters. Your shellfish-friendly guests will be glad you did. Happy Thanksgiving to all!
On the Water
It was cold, but we escaped any major snowstorms this time around. Air temperatures dropped into the teens as the Arctic blast slapped Connecticut, causing water temps to dip into the low 50s and high 40s. Wind was the major factor, keeping anglers at bay until there was a temporary pre-Thanksgiving bounce-back when the mercury reached for the 60s.
Blackfish and tautog are still munching on crabs. Provided weather cooperates with the 'tog pullers, they should have an opportunity to squeeze in another trip or two before the season closes on Saturday, Dec. 6. In the meantime, chasing striped bass that may pop in and out of the Long Island Sound on the good days, or casting for them in the tidal rivers, is a realistic option for season-ending diehards. There has been limited shoreline action in the coves and by certain sluiceways with small plugs and jigs or herring having the best results.
Offshore fishing has kicked in with trips being booked for haddock, pollock, hake, cusk, redfish, and whiting. Note that cod has been eliminated from the list. Due to overfishing, most of the Northeast waters have been closed by NOAA, effective Nov. 13 for at least six months. The largest closure in history includes all waters of the Gulf of Maine and those near-shore waters north of Provincetown, Massachusetts.
Certainly, commercial waterman with small vessels and those running vessels for hire will feel the socioeconomic effects, along with many associated businesses. This will increase the cost of locally caught cod compared to the imported ones. Fresher fish or foreign imports? Personally, I'd pay the couple of bucks difference to support the local economy.
The freshwater scene hasn't changed much. If you want some catch-and-release trout action, it is available. Just hit up one of your locally fall-stocked rivers for some hatchery fish or a shot at some feisty holdovers. For broodstock Atlantic salmon, head to the Shetucket or the Naugy. They have been less finicky of late. For some northerns, head to known pike haunts at the lakes or coves tucked in along the main tidal rivers.
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...