Fish are still there for those willing and able
It's the old, familiar refrain for this time of season: in between windy, rainy weather, we have some good fishing for those with boats still at the ready. Black fishing is fair to good along most of the inshore coast along with the last of the bass and blues plus the opportunity to run over to Montauk, where - as of Wednesday - the casting for school bass was excellent.
Captain Jack Balint of the Fish Connection reported he ran over to Montauk twice this week. On Monday they caught lots of blues, fishing at the point and Gardiners but on Wednesday the catch was all bass, roughly 40-50 of them between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m. in comfortable conditions. The bass averaged 24-26 inches with a few in the mid-30-inch range, all caught with fly rods and anchovy patterns.
Back home there are some 8-inch herring around the mouth of the Thames with bass and blues chasing them around from time to time and also some school bass on occasion chasing bait on top off Bluff Point. Montauk, as of press time, offers a lot more promise. Black fishing is steady on the nice days at North Hill, north of Race Rock and the Stonington Breakwater.
Al Golinski and friend fished on wrecks and rocky lumps from Misquamicut to Charlestown on Sunday for a banner catch of sea bass to 5 pounds and blackfish to 9 pounds, leaving the fish biting in the afternoon. The only down time during the whole day was a stop on one wreck in 90 feet of water that produced only large blues not tasty bottom fish.
Don at King Cove reported they weighed in some nice blackfish over the weekend, including fish of 7.9, 9.3 and 10.35 pounds from spots like the Clumps, Ragged Reef and the south side of Fishers Island. Porgies are still with us in good numbers but the bass and blue fishing both on the Watch Hill Reefs and the Rhode Island beaches has been very sporadic. The beaches, especially, normally good at this time of year, are suffering from lack of fish.
Captain Kerry Douton at J&B said the black fishing was on and off with best results coming from spots in shallower water but overall the season to date has not been as good as other years. Scup catches remain good but those are due to depart very soon. There are blues in The Race but bass are gone from the famed rips though you can troll up some said Kerry in the rips along the shore from Inner Bartletts to Black Point. You might check The Gut where bass are moving past, there on one day, gone the next.
Hillyer's Tackle weighed in three blackfish over 9 pounds this week and also heard back from customers about lots of shorts from the near-shore rock piles. They also weighed in a couple bass over 40 pounds.
I got an email from Bill Canning of Mason's Island about his last trip of the year. He was coming back from his boat on a nearby mooring, using his smaller skiff, when he noticed a swirl in a cove west of the Causeway Bridge by Shaffer's Marina. He cast a popper to the spot and had a hit on the second cast, landing a nice 34-inch striper, a "great end to the season."
Captain Brad Glas also sent an email saying they are into their last bluefish trips of the season, those ending on Monday the 31st. During the past seven days, they had some good catches of blues, hampered at times by our fall winds and the usual pack of boats in the Race on nice weekends.
Pat at River's End said there's good and bad news about the black fishing around Old Saybrook. The bad news is the weather; the good news is the same weather reduces fishing pressure so some of the well-known spots are not as picked over come Saturday. The smaller reefs are offering up nice porgies, maybe the last of those coming up very soon. Bass fishing in The Race was very slow over the weekend past. Montauk is by far your best bet if we have the weather to run over there.
Surf fishermen can also take advantage of the good fishing by going over on the New London ferry then ferries from Greenport and Shelter Island to the East Fork and by road to the famed lighthouse. Back here, the beach fishing for schoolies along the Old Lyme beaches is a very slow pick and some of the chunkers caught a blue or two on some, not all days, from the Saybrook Town Beach.
Tim Coleman is The Day's saltwater fishing columnist.