Brave the wind, catch some Schoolie bass
If you want to brave the wind, there are blackfish on the inshore rockpiles as well as the lower Thames River. Schoolie bass are moving up into the Thames and there's also been a nice run of school bass along the Rhode Island beaches from Watch Hill to Charlestown.
Hillyers Tackle reported weighing in a blackfish just under 10 pounds this week. The parking lot by the launch ramp was half full on Wednesday as people went fishing, wind or not. The most successful fishermen are avoiding the high traffic spots that have been hit hard at this point in the season and seeking new humps by cruising around off, say, Seaside with their fish finders running.
Shore anglers can catch blackfish from Pequot Avenue on the lower Thames and bass at times have been chasing bait around off the mouth of the river. The large blues that were feeding along the shore early in the morning or after dark from Harkness to the west seemed to have moved on. Montauk has bass but the weekend wind predictions and sea conditions do not look good for getting over there in a smaller boat.
Roger at J&B said their charter boat is still out fishing, finding hit-or-miss blue fishing from Wilderness over to The Gut but bass look like they are over for the season. There are sea bass on the wrecks and lumps off Rhode Island's south shore and a mix of sea bass and cod on the rock piles to the east and southeast of Block Island. Cox's Ledge was reported to be full of dogfish, much better to fish in closer to Block.
Captain Jack Balint at The Fish Connection told me schoolie bass are starting to move in the Thames for their winter quarters. They are chasing bait around, their presence often given away by birds. Check around Gales Ferry and Montville. Some are also all the way up into the Shetucket.
Big blues are still in and out of the dock area at Norwich with a few keeper bass caught after dark or at first light. If it's too rough to go black fishing in the Sound, try drifting around the abutments of the I-95 Bridge, down off Pfizer or up by the Hel-Cat dock. On Tuesday there were 5-foot seas reported off Silver Eel Pound and higher ones at Montauk, discouraging reports for small boaters that want to head across.
Salmon stocking in the Shetucket has been completed, a good alternative to a windy day on the Sound. Jack has a few charter trips left for this year but is planning to take those in the river looking for schoolies.
Don at King Cove said there are blackfish in all the standard spots if the wind ever lets up enough for people to get back out. Some have been catching smaller keepers and shorts inside the west breakwater of Stonington Harbor. The Rhode Island beaches had a nice run of school bass and a few blues were chunked up east of Watch Hill or Charlestown for those that don't want to spend the day casting lures.
Down at River's End, I spoke with Mark Lewchick who said one of the locals drove up to Weekapaug where he caught some 15-inch bass before first light along with one that was 30 inches. There are probably some late blues, maybe a bass on the Sand Shoal but the wind has been so bad nobody has been able to get out. There may also be some late bluefish in The Gut but that, too, was pretty much out of reach from boats from this side because of the high winds.
Shore fishermen along the Rhode Island beaches saw a nice run of school bass starting about mid-day on Monday after the snow then rain stopped. Most of these are 14 to 20 inches, prefect for a 7-foot run and small plastic lures. A few however were 24 to 29 inches, those sometimes caught just at last light, and a few over that.
Bob Clark of Westerly shunned light tackle, sticking with a standard surf rod and large Danny swimmer to land a fine 38-inch, 19-pound bass on Wednesday afternoon, dragging the fish a long way back along a sandy beach to his truck. Last Friday afternoon, casters on the west jetty of Weekapaug Breachway landed some very large blues on bucktails on the slack water at the bottom of the tide. Once the tide turned to come back in, the fish took off.
We close our column this week with a news release from the Waterford/East Lyme Shellfish Commission about the opening of a limited scallop season from Nov. 13 to Jan. 18 in the Niantic River. The catch limit is one-quarter bushel per day and all scallops taken "must be adults and have a clear growth ring." There is evidence of a modest amount of scallops in the river. Any questions should be directed to Rick Kanter, co-chair of the commission at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tim Coleman is The Day's saltwater fishing columnist.
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