Still time to cast away as season hits final stretch

Another fishing season is coming to a close, the closings pushed along by a string of windy days that is driving most of the remaining anglers to plan on pulling their boats, getting ready for the holidays and the winter. In the meantime, there is still a little fishing going on, both from the boat and from the local beaches.

Captain Kerry at J&B said the black fishing is still worthwhile, some of the more popular spots restocked with fish thanks to less fishing pressure. If you have a larger boat at your disposal, and get a window from the wind, there are large sea bass plus some cod to 25 pounds in water deeper than 100 feet south and southeast of Block Island.

Red over at Bob's Tackle in Uncasville reported on some blackfish caught on two of the nicer days since last report, but otherwise the wind is killing everybody; some choosing to call it a season rather than wait to deal with icing on the day they plan to haul out. Some blues are still in and out of the Connecticut beaches and there are some schoolies in the Thames but that fishing has been good one day and terrible the next.

Hillyers Tackle reported some declining numbers of bluefish along the area beaches, caught on both poppers and chunks on the bottom. Bass are few and far between. For shore anglers, your best bet might be the beaches on either side of the Thames River mouth, the fish sometimes gathering there before heading up into the river for their winter quarters.

Black fishing is still ongoing off Millstone and Bartletts on the better days, some of the real die-hards keeping at it into December. Sea bass look like they are gone for their inshore grounds off Misquamicut, better now in deeper water off Block. Much of the fishing community has called it quits, though, until the spring of 2011.

Captain Jack over at The Fish Connection said a couple of their customers had fair catches of blackfish on two of the better days at Seaflower and Goshen Reefs, Some 4-pound blues were around the hot water at Millstone with maybe a chance for some smaller bass there also.

Casting to schoolies chasing bait on the surface in the Thames was good one day but almost nothing the very next, the small boaters on the river seeing almost some sign of surface activity on the off days. Chunkers are still catching blues from the Norwich docks and others drove over to Rhode Island for small bass from the beaches between Watch Hill and Charlestown.

Maybe the best catch of the week was a 22-pound salmon caught in the Shetucket River by a fly rodder on Wednesday. Jack said the state stocked about 200 salmon in the river, that fishing offering an opportunity to wet a line if the Rhode Island surf is high and dirty from a storm. The fishery is limited to fly fishing or spin casting with lures with a single hook, catch and release only until Dec. 1.

Down at River's End, they got some news about a 48-pound striper caught on the Sand Shoal along with two blues on the only day the small boats got out. Black fishing is just so-so, said Mark. Many of the better-known spots have been picked over pretty well. There are some schoolie bass along the beaches like Harkness, Hatchett's Point and the mouth of the Connecticut River. A few of the locals boarded ferries and made a trip over to Montauk, fishing from the beaches.

The Rhode Island surf fishing was up and down during the last week, sometimes suffering from very high surf. On the better days, the catch was limited to bass from 12 to 18 inches, some hickory shad and a small number of stripers from 26 to 28 inches. Most of the fish were caught on lead heads of some type dressed with twister tails.

Over the last few years there has been a lot of discussion in the striper community about the health of the resource. Recently, the Atlantic States Marine Fishery Commission sent out a news release that said the recreational catch of striped bass along the coast has dropped off 66 percent from 2006 to 2009. That seems to be a flashing red light, warning of hard days ahead unless we conserve, not charging ahead with increased quotas and bag limits.

That will wrap it up for another year, folks. God bless, good luck and may the force be with you and yours until the spring.

Tim Coleman is The Day's saltwater fishing columnist.

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