Usually during the long winter months, anglers use this time to service gear, learn about new products and techniques, or construct rigs. There's a lot of ratchet-jawing and updating GPS coordinates on charts, both computer-based and hard copy. Notes taken after an extreme low tide identifying bottom changes are transposed into meaningful fishing jargon, hopefully paying off during the season.
However, this winter seems to upset that norm. With such mild weather, there's more time to fish the open water than in recent memory. Soft water has taken the place of hard and anglers are spending more time on the banks, in their small vessels, or wading the rivers and streams. Instead of live shiners being fished through ice holes, they're being cast for trout, bass, and pickerel. Clothing has been layered less and often gradually shed as the sun beats down on anglers.
Up in the treetops, birds of prey can been seen staking out their claim or protecting their nests. A pair of bald eagles (salt eagles as they're sometimes called) are in a parental mode, obviously experienced in what they do. They've prepared their nest with sturdy interwoven branches, twigs, soft pine, and corn husks for bedding. Their perch is close to a plentiful water supply, in and amongst trees and protective brush affording ample food, both surf and turf.
The feeling of an early spring is omnipresent. Even the air feels fresh. Back on the river, a cast is made to a few inviting riffles, and as a favorite ultralite finesse lure is worked in conjunction with the moving water, the line stretches, eliminating any slack. Bright colors only a winter rainbow can show off clearly reflected through the water. There was the unmistakable pull of a freshly hooked fish and then the dash down river and into the current. No run would be complete without at least one acrobatic jump, spraying water that glistened in the falling sun. This fish more than earned its release. And thus ended what any angler would consider a most rewarding, albeit premature, spring fishing day.
On the Water/Ice
It ought to be a clue that our cold season is fleeting when Buffalo, New York, has to make snow from block ice for its winter festival. A few frigid days and nights, along with a couple of missed weather events, seems to sum up a failed wintry February. Long Island Sound, normally down into the low 30s at this time of the season, has recently been fluctuating from the mid-to-low 40s, occasionally dipping a bit lower.
With more signs of an early spring apparent, fishing activity has blossomed under an umbrella of budding branches and new sprouts pushing up through the ground. Longer days, more sun, and mild weather are contributing factors. Anglers are finding more and more open waterways in which trout, for example, are coming up from their deep holes and surface feeding. Flip them a lure or fly at either end of the day and your rod tip will probably signal a pick up, or at least some interest.
Hard to believe there's less than two weeks left of trout season until opening day. The last day to fish stocked waters is Wednesday, Feb. 29, unless fishing trout/wild trout management areas, designated sea run trout rivers, or trophy trout lakes that remain open through March 31 and enforce a daily limit of one trout, 16 inches minimum length. There also continues to be other species foraging, including carp, catfish, largemouth bass, perch, and pickerel. Try a live shiner or scented artificial.
A public meeting regarding recreational fishing measures for 2011 will be held Thursday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection Marine Headquarters in Old Lyme, and at the Connecticut Convention Center, 6th floor, at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18. Discussed will be harvest limits for black sea bass, scup, fluke (outlook good) and tautog (overfished-prepare for 53 percent reduction).
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...