Archive for CT River Fishing
The forecast for the reefs wasn’t looking good for today. Heavy rain, possible thunder storms and wind of 15-20 out of the south. Not a great combination for 3-waying live baits. Stroby and I ran to Niantic and hooked up the boat to trailer over to Old Saybrook for some bass on the flats instead. I was shocked to see the water temps at 75 and didn’t think we’d see much action but…. I was wrong. As we motored down the flats, I was using the Side Imaging to search for bass in the shallows. It didn’t take long to find what were were looking for. Here is a screenshot that shows just how many fish there were:
The water was very dirty with viziblity about a foot which made lure choice easy. We had to with big top waters that make some noise on the surface. Six Pin pencil popper and Magnum Spooks were the hot lures. We experimented throughout the day with different lures but nothing beat the top waters. We had an incredible amount of action on the plugs. Sometimes there would be the tell tale boils and wakes behind the lures, other times they was just an explosion of water and the lure would disappear.
We used the trolling motor to move down the flats against a stiff breeze and deployed the 360 to see when we were coming up on fish. When we found a good concentration, we used the Talons to hold us in place and cast right to where the 360 said the fish were. As a good friend likes to say: Birds find fish! Boy, do they…
We fished through the outgoing tide and well into the incoming but eventually the clouds broke up and it got hot. We had a hell of a morning and packed it in around one.
I made the most of my day off yesterday… I met Chris in Old Saybrook at 5 and shoved off into a thick fog. It took a while to idle to the first spot but it was worth the wait. We were instantly into fish! I wanted to concentrate on learning how to fish the Shimano Orca. It fishes similar to a big spook but does not have as wide a gait as the spooks. We spent the first hour in 2-4 feet of water and had a ball… It was flat calm and the fog was so thick, you couldn’t see the lure hit the water at the end of the cast. As the Orca neared the boat, more often than not there was a large wake right behind the lure. Changing the cadence usually produced an explosion. We boated some hefty fish that fought well in the shallow water.
Once the fog lifted, we moved a round quite a bit, picking a few fish off at each stop. The bass seemed to be in small pods but spread out widely. We stayed in less than 6 feet for most of the morning. Chris was getting his share of fish on the Slug-Go’s and I stayed with the Orca and spook. We finally lost the tide around 10:30 or so and the bite slowed down to nothing. We kept plugging away till 1 and managed to find a few more fish but it was nothing like the early bite. I was very happy with the size overall.
I made it home by 2. Just enough time to grab some lunch, tie on new leaders and meet Jimmy for round two at the Rocky Hill ramp. By 3:30, the skies had cleared and the wind was honking out of the south with gusts over 25. We fished from Hartford to Cromwell trying to find spots out of the wind, but there really was no place to hide. The wind made boat control impossible. We pretty much had to go with the flow as the trolling motor was useless. The whole afternoon was a struggle but we managed to scrape a couple of fish together. I had a couple of big explosions on a top water but somehow missed them both and managed to lose a stud of a fish on a Houdini Shad. I had that fish on for close to a minute but lost it after a powerful run when the fish turned on me and raced towards the boat. There was a ton of bait at every stop. We couldn’t help but snag a few as they swam side by side with the lures on the way back to the boat. We finally gave in to the wind and headed back to the ramp around 7:30. A very long day on the water but well worth the effort!
Wednesday is my day off from the shop and with the stripers here in size and numbers, I was fishing come hell or high water. I am still without a boat and have been hitching rides with friends. The sessions have been quick 2 hr trips which leaves little time for adjusting to changing conditions… I was able to work a deal with a friend who had a boat that needed service at Reynolds for a steering leak. To save Al the long tow to their shop, he agreed to let me use the boat for the day if I could save him the trip to Reynolds by bringing the boat down when I was done. That was a no brainer.
Next, I needed a partner for the morning. I made a call to Eric to see if he was free to fish for a few hours and he was. We met at the ramp at 4:30 and began the search. The first spot that normally produces for me was unusually slow. Only a few half hearted swirls to show for the first hour and a half on the water. We headed north all the way to Hartford and started working our way back. It didn’t take long to start seeing fish… There was herring everywhere flipping on the surface. With each cast, there would be a dozen that followed the lure back to the boat. We hooked a couple of keepers at each stop along the way and 3 hours into the morning, we were having a solid morning. For the most part, I threw a Houdini or big spook and Eric threw both a Houdini and an umbrella rig with 5″ Salt Shakers on it. The umbrella looked awesome coming through water, apparently the bass agreed. Eric had 3 fish in no time in one short stretch of river.
We kept hopping from spot to spot, each one producing some great hits on top. A couple of times we had some blitzes going on within casting range and at one point we were able to double up with a couple of keepers. We finished the morning drifting one of my favorite flats. There were herring and bass all around the boat. You would think that you couldn’t miss, but that wasn’t the case. With that much bait and crystal clear water, the bass were very wary. We continued to cast when we saw a fish boil, the key to getting them to hit was speed the retrieve up once they began to follow the lure. That helped to get us a couple more hits before we ran out of time. We had temps as high as 63 degrees. The water is extremely low and very clear. We need rain NOW and lots of it if we have any chance of keeping the bait and bass here much longer. The next few days look promising, my fingers are crossed….
I had an invite from Tom to fish today in his boat, since my new boat has not arrived yet, I jumped at the opportunity. There have been some rumors of keeper sized stripers arriving recently. Typically this time of year, the best bite is before and just after the sun comes up. We decided to meet at 4 and fish for a couple of hours in the dark. It was damned cold for this late in April. The truck said 40 degrees when I stepped out and put the gear on.
The river is high and incredibly dirty so the game plan was to stick to the tributaries instead of the main river. We had a couple of hits from smaller fish in the dark but as it began to get light out, the river came to life. We could see herring flipping around us and there was the occasional swirl from a feeding bass. We kept casting away and just before dawn, I finally hooked up with a decent fish. I was using one of the new jointed swim baits from Savage. Because I was using a fast retrieve, the lure was only a foot below the surface when the fish hit. The tail instantly broke the surface and the fish thrashed around before it got traction and began taking drag. After a couple of minutes, I had her subdued and in the boat. Not a huge fish but definitely a keeper… This was the first fish on the new Calcutta 301D and I was in heaven. I had in matched up with Loomis Pro Blue PBR 843C. The combo was a treat to fish the big swim baits with. The rod loaded nicely and made for effortless casts. I didn’t have a single backlash on the Calcutta and with a 5.6:1 ratio, it made it easy to work the lures quickly. We fished for another hour but things got quiet again.
From there, we put the boat back on the trailer and headed south to the Salmon River ramp. The CT was still pumping mud but as we worked our way up into the Salmon Cove, the water cleaned up nicely. Once again things were quiet. We moved around for an hour or so before finding a few fish. We were never able to hook them but we saw 4 mid 30″ fish follow our lures back to the boat. It was at the least nice to know there were a few fish around. As we checked various spots that had produced for me in the past, I had a solid thump on the Savage. I thought for sure it was a bass but as I got it to the boat, it turned into a pike. On many days, I would have been thrilled to land a pike that big but today, it was not what I was hoping for…
We spent the remainder of the day bouncing between the various marinas on the southern end of the river pitching micro jigs to crappie. They were right on the surface hiding under the docks and along the shadows. More often than not, the bluegill would beat them to the jigs but every once in a while if you could present the jig slow enough a crappie would ease up behind it and suck it in. Late in the day, the wind was really howling which made boat control tough and jigging with light line even tougher. By the time we wrapped it up we had caught a couple dozen crappie… A long day on the river but a lot of fun.
I have never been so excited to start a season. It seems as though everything has come together all at the same time for Anderson Guide Services. A new Skeeter SX240 is on the assembly line at this very moment. This is an upgraded model to the Skeeters that I’ve been running for the last several years. We will once again be riding in style… A 24 foot bay boat powered by a Yamaha 250 4-stroke on a jack plate along with trim tabs will allow us to comfortably fish anywhere and everywhere in all conditions.
I recently signed a Pro Staff deal with Humminbird and Minn Kota and will have a dizzying array of new toys to play with this season. Starting on the bow, we have a Minn Kota Riptide 101 with the all new i-Pilot Link. The trolling motor now talks directly to the Humminbird GPS. Boat control will be a breeze even in a nor’ easter. check out the video below to see what this will do for us on our trips:
This year, the Humminbird 1198 Side Imaging is back again but this time there is a major difference in its capabilities… The big news on the sonar front is that I will also now have Humminbird’s latest and greatest fish finding technology. The new 360 Imaging is the ultimate upgrade to the Side Imaging series of units and will revolutionize they way that we look at fish, bait and structure forever… Complete 360 degree coverage under and around the boat:
As if that wasn’t enough, we will also be running Humminbird’s new 4KW radar unit. This will allow us to safely run in the dark and fog, perfect for those O-Dark:30 departures for Block Island and Montauk.
For the days that we target bass on the shallow flats or northern pike on the river, the dual Minn Kota Talons will prove invaluable. This will allow us to fish in complete stealth with pin point boat control. Even in heavy winds and ripping currents, the wave absorption system will keep us locked in position so that we can concentrate on fishing.
The boat should be here in the next week or so. The electronics are mostly here, I’m still waiting on the 360 imaging unit to arrive. I will also be receiving a pile of new Shimano gear in any day now as well. I can’t wait to break into those boxes and start spooling reels! We will be fishing with Trinidads, Calcuttas, Sustains and Stradics this year. They will be mounted on Terez, Travala and Teramar rods….
Fishing has been so good lately, it’s hard to stay away from the river. I’ve been working the morning shift at Connecticut Outfitters during the week so I am able to get out in the afternoons. I loaded the dog in the truck and met Tom at Wethersfield Cove at 12:30 and we headed off to try a different spot. Things were very slow to start off. We tried lots of different lures with only a few half hearted boils below them. I did have one huge hit on a Spook, the fish knocked the lure 3 feet in the air but never connected with the hooks. After going through most of our gear with no results, we tried on some surface swimmers from Lloyds Lures. It didn’t take long to figure out that was the right move… We had several fish come up and take a look and Tom finally stuck one. Saxi was beside herself with the screaming drag and thrashing striper and needed to be reminded to stay in the boat.
The action remained steady for the next hour or so with some fish boiing and rolling on the lure several times before striking while others just appeared out of nowhere and smashed the swimmers with no warning. There were a couple of smaller fish boated but there were also some nicer fish taken. Tom had the hot lure, they really liked the yellow.
The highlight of the day was watching a juvenile bald eagle swoop down several times attempting to grab the surface swimmers. At one point he dove down with his feet out in front and talons extended only to turn away within a foot of the plug. It was incredible to watch. I snapped a few pictures. Everytime i reached for the video camera, he would fly off and sit in a tree watching us. As soon as we would turn our backs to resume fishing he would sneak up again and dive bomb the lures again. Eventually he figured that the plugs were not worth the effort and disappeared down the river.
I had so much fun yesterday I decided to do it all over again today. I called around but couldn’t talk anyone into skipping work to come play with me. Tom agreed to fish till 7:30, we decided to launch at 4 to give us more time. It was 45 at the ramp this morning, a bit cooler than yesterday and the moon was still very bright which made navigating a little more relaxing. We headed straight to where I had them yesterday. We fished for almost a half an hour with nothing and then we had 2 quick hits while running the Revo Shads fast. Tom hooked up briefly but lost his. Not sure what the difference was but things were not the same as they were yesterday. It was pretty slow for the next hour, we fished topwaters, plastics and swimmers with no action at all. Tom finally hooked up and put a fish in the boat with a Revo Shad… After the initial fish, we were back were we started from, very slow.
There was a decent amount of bait around, the fish had to be there with them… I decided to change things up and fish deeper. I cut the Revo Shad off in favor of a Bass Harasser and started bouncing the bottom in 7 feet of water. A few minutes later I thumped hard and set the hook. It was a mid 30 inch fish that fought great in the current. Unfortunately, it came off right at the back of the boat. We thought maybe we were on to something by fishing deeper with the bright sun. In the next 3 drifts, I put 3 keepers in the boat. Fishing the lures so slow allowed the stripers to really smake them. Two of the fish completely inhaled the lures, they were not coming off…
Tom eventually ran out of time and I headed back to the ramp to drop him off. I still had plenty of time and thought I could do some more damage so I headed right back out again. The fish were still holding deep when I returned and I went back to throwing the Bass Harasser again. In the next 3 hours, I managed to put 3 more in the boat and lost 2 others after lengthy battles. I also missed a handfull of hits. A few times as I bounced the lure along the bottom, I felt light bumps and the lure came back with herring scales on the hook and eventually I ended up snagging one. I couldn’t resist laying the fish next to some of my top producing lures for a quick photo. It’s easy to see why these lure fool so many bass…
Well, after a few frustrating trips on the river, I think it’s safe to say the striper run is under way!
Jimmy and I launched in Rocky Hill at 5am. It was 50, gray and flat calm. There were a couple of boats launching just ahead of us. We waited to see which way they went and went the opposite direction. The idea was to hit a few shallow flats with top waters, plastics and swimmers. The first couple of stops yielded nothing, but as soon as we shut down at the third spot it was game on. I had a couple of blow ups on the big Magnum Spook but couldn’t hook up. Within a few casts of switching over to a Revo Shad, I was on. I actually watched this fish come up in 7 feet of water to crash on the lure 10 feet off the back of the boat. Finally… My first keeper of the new season in the river!
It was a gorgeous morning on the river. The trees were alive with birds singing, turkeys were fighting in the meadows, bald eagles flying overhead and wood ducks flying along the banks. Jimmy had a few hits on the Houdini Shad and eventually hooked up with a keeper of his own. The tide was moving out pretty good, so the fish were putting up a pretty good fight in the shallow water. We each kept our first fish for dinner tonight. Mine is marinating as I type…
We stayed in that area for a few hours and had a slow but steady pick of fish. The number one producer was the Revolution Shads. I used a new color and was very happy with the results. Here is a good pic of the smelt color that did the damage today
We always see a bald eagle or two when on the river but this morning they seemed to be everywhere. I didn’t see any juveniles, all were adults. Most were sitting patiently waiting for signs of herring along the shoreline. The best spots had a few birds perched, all waiting to eat…
But it was worth it… The river has been out of control for the last week. I’ve had to cancel a few trips due to high and very dirty water, this should be prime time on the river right now. The river has been dropping since Friday but it is still 8 feet above normal. The ramp in Rocky Hill is usable and we figured the water clarity should be improving by now so Mike and I decided to do a little scouting for this weeks charters.
It never stopped raining for the 2 hours we were out but the Frabill Stormsuits kept us bone dry. We tried a couple of different areas. The first spot was 8-10 feet deep over an area that usually holds some herring. They were there… So were the bass. I started off throwing a Live Target Blue Back Herring and hooked up with just a few casts of shutting the motor down. Nice start…
From there we moved out a little deeper and tried some soft plastics on jig heads. Pat Renna of T-Man Custom Tackle gave me a few prototypes of a new soft plastic he is working on. They looked great and I was anxious to try them out. I put one on a 1/2oz head and began bouncing bottome in 12 feet of water. It didn’t long at all to get thumped hard. As I was fighting mine, Mike hooked up with a 7″ Limetruese Slug-Go on a jig head as well. Both were nice fat keepers.
I also managed one more decent fish on a Bass Harasser. This was back in 10 feet of water and I was just bouncing the lure along the bottom when the bass nearly ripped the rod out of my hands. We were back at the ramp around 5:30, not a bad two hours. It makes me feel a lot better about tomorrow’s charter!
One of my regular fishing partners returned from college this week… Just in time. Josh and I launched in the dark with a light drizzle and empty lot this morning. There was only one other boat there, very surprising for a Sunday morning. We had fish on our first 5 drifts but it quickly died around 6. We had hits on Revo Shads, Slug-Gos, Stick Shadds and Houdini’s. There was a good amout of bait around dimpling the surface but I have yet to see any blitzes on top. I dropped my biggest fish of the year after a vicious hit and a brief thrashing on the surface but at least I got to see it. I’ll get her tomorrow….