Hillyer's weighs in state record tautog

We have some fair to good black fishing along our shores, anywhere from Hatchett's Reef to the Clumps in Fishers Island Sound. You must pick through the shorts, but there are nice ones coming in, including a state record.

Hillyer's Tackle weighed in the monster, a 23.55 pound giant tautog caught by 83-year-old Ken Owen of Fairfield in 23 feet of water on the south side of Two Tree Channel. They also weighed in a 14.6 pound black, this on top of the recent 18-pounder caught from shore at Jordan Cove.

School stripers are along the beaches on some days, best early or late in the day from the mouth of the Thames to Hatchett's Point, hitting small swimmers and poppers. After dark there is always a chance at a larger bass this time of year for people that bundle up and keep at the long hours, possibly getting only a hit or so per trip but that might be the biggest surf fish of the season.

Captain Kerry at J&B rated the black fishing as good but not excellent in local waters. On Wednesday he fished with some friends off the wrecks along the Rhode Island beaches, catching a good number of medium sea bass, large scup, big bluefish and medium to large blackfish.

It looks like the blues have moved out of The Race for the season but there may still be some good striper fishing over at Montauk. He said their charter boats will keep running until mid-month, ending the year with some trips for sea bass and cod on the south side of Block Island.

Don at King Cove reported good black fishing from Sunday through Tuesday at spots like Latimer Light, the shallow water just off Ender's Island, Ragged Reef and East Clump. Bass fishing on the Watch Hill Reefs was very poor. As of press time there are still sea bass along the rocks and wrecks off Rhode Island but they are due to move on to winter quarters very soon.

Al Golinski fished on Wednesday afternoon down off the Rhode Island beaches catching 15 blackfish to 8 pounds, but he didn't stay that long because of the big heave from a storm going by way to our south. There are sea bass over to Southwest Ledge and probably a mix of cod and more sea bass on the rocky bottom nicknamed the Apple Tree on the south side of Block.

Down at River's End Tackle, Mark Lemchick said chunkers caught blues at various spots from shore along the lower Connecticut River. Weather permitting there are some large blacks on the humps off Cornfield Point and big porgies around Outer Southwest Reef. False albacore are gone for another season. Rhode Island surf casting was red hot early in the week but poor by press time.

Captain Brad Glas of the Hel-Cat sent in his last e-mail for the year. They wrapped up their blue fishing and will resume sailing in January for cod. On their last trips they had periods of good fishing, hampered at times by a current in and around The Race running close to 6 knots. Watch their web site at www.helcat.com for schedules.

Some of the Westerly residents had great surf casting in calm surf on Monday. One of the retired guys, always looking and fishing six days per week, landed 61 bass from 16-to-28 inches and two small blues on 6-inch Slug-Gos on a -ounce lead head. Small boats that day were drawn in so close by the bass chasing bait that beach fishermen had to move away to avoid hitting them with their casts. By Wednesday though the fish had moved on and catches were poor at best.

This is the time of year you should be able to find some bass on the morning or evening dropping tides by the bridges from Stonington to Niantic. The latter sometimes has large blues in close at times, especially if we get migrating schools of large bunker in that area. School bass will hit small plugs at places like the Mason's Island Bridge though sometimes people with light rods might get a surprise when a 36-inch striper takes the lure meant for an 18-inch schoolie.

Tim Coleman is The Day's saltwater fishing columnist. He can be reached at thewreckhunter@aol.com

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