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What You May Not Have Known About a Crab

Published 10/23/2013 12:00 AM
Updated 10/22/2013 03:09 PM

When wading through the water, most folks avoid getting in the way of a scurrying side-moving crab-unless it is blackfish and tautog season. Then that tune changes as seekers of the famed white chin look to embrace these voracious sea critters. It is almost unheard of for a 'tog to pass up one of these arthropods, especially a "greenie," often referred to as a shore crab.

Tempting these bait-stealing 'togs into feeding on a camouflaged hook is usually accomplished with a whole or partial crab and the added attraction of some clam, mussel, and crab chum. What most 'tog pullers are not aware of is that when using a green crab as bait, it actually helps the marine world.

The green crab (Carcinus maenas) is known as one of the 100 world's worst alien invasive species. Since first coming on the North American scene in 1817 somewhere along the shores of Massachusetts, it has spread out, slowly devastating many thriving underwater habitats. It thrives in all types of estuarine environments, feeding on, for example, clams, oysters, mussels, scallops, small crustaceans (lobsters, blue crabs, etc.), and polychaetes or sea worms. When their claw strength cannot penetrate a hardened shell, they turn toward immature soft shells.

So while we relish in catching the over-fished tautog and complain about restrictions, consider helping diminish the infestation of the green crab by continuing to use them as bait. Whether 'togs pursue them mainly as a food source or view them as a threat, only a 'tog knows for sure. But meanwhile, enjoy catching these bulldogs of the Sound and this menu's delight.

On the Water

An unusual warm spell came to an abrupt end as Connecticut edged closer to the inevitable season's first freeze. Winds picked up and air temperatures dropped into the 40s, bringing Long Island Sound water temps into the lower 60s. As we began to see more of a typical fall, seas became more choppy and productive inshore fishing spots fluctuated depending on their proximity to a lee.

The October bass run is currently taking place along the New England coast. There has been solid action by many of the lower major and minor tidal rivers as linesiders take advantage of dense schools of bunker seeking forage and refuge. Interwoven are hickory shad and river herring also being consumed. Bass in the 34- to 36-inch range are being caught on nearby flats on flies, plugs, and bait. On the reefs, Southwest, Six Mile, Faulkner's, and Charles are but a few showing life. Eels have been a prime live bait along with menhaden, although scup, shad, and the typical chunks are doing the trick almost as well.

As of yet, the cooling Sound has not reached the point to prompt bluefish to leave. Find some bird activity and you will hook into blitzing blues, although seemingly not as plentiful as in past seasons. However, trollers, jiggers, and chunkers are connecting with these choppers where currents are creating rip lines. Mixed catches of these blues, stripers, and some weakies have been made during ideal conditions. In many cases, though, these conditions have been more conducive to fish than fishers.

'Tog season has been underway for two weeks and is panning out to be about our recent norm. That is, a few good double-digit white chins off the walls, but most pulled from shallow rock piles have been in the 4- to 6-pound range. So far, numbers of shorts (under 16 inches) seem to be higher than usual. Granted, the weather could have been more cooperative, but it's doubtful that would have changed the outcome much. Crabs have been the number one bait, then bivalves and sea worms.

Porgy and scup are biting hard on most reefs with catches still being made from shore. Jumbos have hardly given up the fight yet as they continue to feed along with 'togs and other bottom fish. Sea bass are also providing plenty of table fare, but weather, again, is the stumbling block. Blue crabbing, on the other hand, has slowed even with crabs hugging the deeper, warmer holes of tidal rivers. Catches of a half-dozen have been an effort.

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.

Tight Lines,

Captain Morgan



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