Striped bass, fluke, flounder all on the menu

Striped bass catches are pushing ahead to a spring peak, fluke got off to a slower start than hoped and you have a chance to catch a flounder or two for supper at various spots along our beaches.

Hillyers Tackle in Waterford reported bass off 47 and 49 inches in one boat over the weekend past, trolled up from Inner Bartletts on a parachute jig with pork rind. Colored diamond jigs and bucktails are working on bass in The Race. As of this report, your best chances for a keeper fluke are the mouth of the Thames, Isabella or Greenport. Jordan Cove offers some winter flounder, great on the table.

Harkness Park has been producing some winter flounder said Red at Bob's in Uncasville. Bait dunkers along the lower Thames caught blackfish on their striper baits but all had to be tossed back because the season is closed. Fluke reports ranged from terrible to some that did indeed catch keepers; all depended on the skill of the anglers or where they dropped a line.

Captain Kyle Douton at J&B told me their charter boat is bucktailing bass to the southeast of Valiant Shoal on the flood tide and the light tackle skiffs are catching small and medium stripers on some days in the lower part of the Connecticut River. Trollers caught small and medium stripers on the reefs off Clinton. Isabella Beach offers the best chance right now for a keeper fluke rather than off Millstone or other spots in the Sound.

Mark at River's End Tackle said shore anglers at Dock & Dine along the lower Connecticut River are catching a few short fluke on chunks meant for bass. The best bet for boaters right now appears to be Greenport or perhaps a trip to the Rhode Island beaches; not many keepers in the eastern Sound. Casters in the lower Connecticut River did well with striped bass plus a few big blues in pluses, sometimes very good, then nothing until the next batch moved in.

Over at Shaffers Marina, I spoke with Captain Allen Fee who said Mickey Brotherton and his friend spent one hour trolling swimming plugs from Ellis Reef to Gates Island for four stripers around 30 inches before the rain started on Tuesday morning. The fluke season got off to a slow start with nobody out in last Saturday's winds and only a few shorts caught on Sunday. Shore anglers continue to catch schoolie bass from the Masons Island Bridge.

The Fish Connection in Preston reported shore fishermen catching bass from Norwich Park early and late in the day when bunkers come in close, drawing stripers with them. Casters caught some bass in the Watch Hill rips and also off Barn Island. Locals who went to Montauk for fluke said they struggled to land some over 21 inches. Jack did get a confirmed report about a few doormats from Peconic Bay, the most encouraging fluke news to date.

Don at King Cove said the fluke catches from the Rhode Island beaches were fair one day and very poor the next time out. Biggest of the week was a 7.9-pounder caught by John Chevarini. They did weigh in a nice surf bass of 41.25 pounds caught on a loaded Redfin plug by Toby Lapinski, the location kept a secret.

Al Golinski of Misquamicut took his boat out for the first trip of 2010. He went down along the Rhode Island beaches on Monday afternoon for a fair catch of fluke that included shorts but also three over 20 inches and a 30-inch bass that grabbed a bucktail dressed with whole, small squid. That same day a friend in a nearby boat landed an 8-pounder.

Over along the Rhode Island beaches, shore anglers are catching school bass at various spots from Quonny to Watch Hill in the morning and evening or during the day if it's overcast. A boat fishermen told this writer he caught 13 small bass just outside Quonny on Tuesday morning, the fish all under 20 inches and the action over in less than an hour just at first light.

Tim Coleman is The Day's saltwater fishing columnist.

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