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Lunker City Fishing Specialties

A short day on the Sound

Steve Durkee and I hit Long Island Sound this morning, despite my having to be off the water and headed home by 11:30.

As it turned out, we could have been off the water by 10 and done nearly as well. Heck, I could have headed for home happy at 6 after catching what would turn out to be my only keeper of the day, fishing an unweighted Fin-S Fish on top! The fish were feeding on the surface on the incoming tide. We were hoping (expecting, might be more accurate) that the topwater action would continue with the dense fog that hung in until after 10, but that action came to a rather abrupt halt when the tide started to go out, shortly after 7am.

We resorted to jigs and started to move around and check different reefs, and caught a few more fish after the tide turned, but after an early topwater bite, it did seem tough. Steve did manage a keeper just before 10, and I had a keeper-in-training around 9. But other than that, the fishing on the first half of the outgoing was a lot of work for a schoolie here and a sea robin there.

Don’t know if it got better later, because we were both on our way home before 11:30.

Largemouth fishing at Mudge

Carl Lovisolo and I took the new Ranger up to Mudge on Friday. It started out chilly (56!), rainy and with a stiff northerly breeze, and after an hour or so, morphed into a cool (mid 60s), calm, and intermittently drizzly day.

Seemed like perfect conditions for shallow, aggressive bass. I caught my first few fish throwing an unweighted, 5.75″, golden shiner Fin-S Fish, but the bite certainly didn’t seem to indicate that they were roaming, active and chewing like the conditions suggested they should be.

We moved out to the outside weed edge and started exploring. Mostly, it was a fish here and a couple there, fishing from 10 to 20 feet deep with small plastics –a Swimming Ribster on a light jig head caught a few, but the motor oil pepper Ribster on the drop shot was far and away the most consistently productive thing we threw. As we moved along the outside edge of the vegetation, every time we came within range of a good bunch of pads, we’d move in and try frogging and unweighted soft baits over the top. Never raised a fish on the frog, but the soft jerk baits caught us 8 or 9 fish through the course of the day, mostly from areas where the pads were scattered and thin.

Along about noon, we found a stretch of outside weed edge and extended shelf that produced more than a few fish on the initial pass, so we worked back and forth on that stretch for most of the afternoon. It might have been my imagination, but it sure seemed like there was a definite preference for small, motor oil color baits. I had thrown a green pumpkin Monkey Grub a bit, but caught only pickerel on it. When one of those toothy guys bit it off, I replaced it with the same grub, but in motor oil pepper, and immediately started catching bass on it. So I alternated between the grub and the DS Ribster for the rest of the day, and caught fish on both. Carl had been way behind, but once he switched his drop shot over to the hot bait, he was catching them good too. By day’s end, I think we still had one usable motor oil pepper Ribster between us in the boat. Or maybe not.

We ended the day with 54 bass between us. About 3 dozen of them bit a piece of motor oil pepper plastic, either the Ribster or Monkey Grub.

On another note, I’ve fished this lake for fifty years, give or take a year. And yesterday, I actually discovered a new spot. I’m not sure I would call it a hump, as much as a slight rise near the end of an extended flat. But at least yesterday, it was holding some fish, so I punched up a waypoint on the Dragonfly up front, and shared it with the Axiom on the console. It’ll go into the regular rotation of spots to check every time I’m out there, at least until it proves or disproves its value. You would think that after 50 years on a waterbody this small, there would be nothing left to learn. Never stop paying attention!

It drizzled on us on and off all day. If we’d caught anything really picture-worthy, I would have pulled the phone out of the dry box for a picture, but it wasn’t worth it for just another 1¾ to 2½ fish. I finally got it out and took a pic of my last fish, caught on the unweighted Fin-S Fish from a clearing in the pads as we approached the ramp to put the boat back on the trailer and head home. It had been a good day, so I needed something for the log.

Hot day, hot bite

Today might’ve been the hottest, most humid day of the year so far. The haze this morning was so heavy that it looked like fog, and even though it was only a little over 80 when Steve Durkee and I launched a bit past 5 am, the humidity was oppressive. The temp climbed quickly, but once we were out of the river, we were sitting on 65 degree Long Island Sound water, and had the benefit of that cooling effect going for us.

But it was still incredibly hot.

And when we came in just after noon, as soon as we got off the water, we were smacked with the 96 degree air temperature, unmitigated by the cool waters of the Sound.


Very hot.

But so was the bite!

First spot we stopped, there were a couple other boats fishing – free lining live bunker, and catching the snot out of them. We’re not going to try to compete with struggling bunker, so we decided to try a different hump.

Steve hooked up quickly once we got there.

And lost the fish.

He missed a few bites over the next few minutes. Meanwhile, I wasn’t getting hit at all.

Please don’t be another one of those “Steve gets all the bites,” days!

Steve kept getting action, and soon put a 38 incher in the boat.

The action slowed down, and we decided to try a deeper hump not too far away.


Back to the shallow hump Steve had been getting all those hits on.

Finally, mercifully, I got hit and put a 28 incher in the boat.

Then Steve caught another keeper.  I hooked up again — this time with a serious fish. And it broke my 15# fluoro leader. We both continued to get action on the shallower hump, but we were losing fish left and right.

And then I tweaked my presentation a bit and starting getting solid hookups, with almost every fish coming to the boat. We were fishing the top of a fairly shallow hump. Ten to fourteen feet or so deep, with scattered, scrubby vegetation. When the tide started to come in, I was casting cross current and letting the 7″ Fin-S Fish (on a 1 oz jighead) drift with the tide until it hit bottom.

My presentation tweak was to jump the lure very hard the instant I felt it hang in the bottom vegetation. Hook set hard. Every hit after I adopted that approach came immediately after a hard, high jump. And every fish came on the same, 7″ Albino Shad Fin-S Fish/1 oz LunkerGrip head combo.

We ended up with 10 or 12 keepers between us, up to my 42 incher. Too busy giggling like schoolgirls to worry about keeping an exact tally. We also had a few fish just shy of the keeper mark, and a handful of smaller schoolies. If we got away from the top of the shallow hump, the bites were either small schoolies or big sea bass. Stay shallow though, and the bites were from big stripers. Long after that heavy haze burned off, under the bright sun with barely a ripple on the surface, the fat girls were roaming the tops of some pretty shallow humps.

Book says they shouldn’t have been there chewing. Maybe they were trying to get a suntan, I don’t know.

Here’s some fish porn.

A decent day on the sound

I joined Steve Durkee for a day chasing stripers on Long Island Sound today. As usual, we launched in the lower Connecticut River, but other than a very quick pass on one small stretch of river, we didn’t spend any time or effort there. The run-off from the monsoons to our north a few days back has made it an inhospitable place for the stripey guys right now.

Too muddy.

Too fresh.

Too bad.

So it was out to the shoals, humps, saddles and reefs of Long Island Sound for us. With the incoming tide early on, the dirty water that ran out of the river last night had been pushed back into the river and to the West of the river mouth, so we headed East. Seemed like a lot of other folks had the same idea, as our first stop was just too crowded, and we didn’t hang around long.

Steve did manage our only yellow eyed devil of the day during the short time we spent there. When we returned to the same shoal later, after the competition and boat traffic had left and the tide had turned, I picked up a 20″ fluke, So even though the spot never gave up a striper for us, it did produce!

We spent the better part of the morning and early afternoon banging around the eastern Sound, and caught fish pretty consistently. We caught them in 12 feet, we caught them in 20 feet and we caught some in 45 to 50 feet. About the only thing we didn’t manage to do was catch anything on topwater.

Steve’s blue and my fluke both came on 7″ Fin-S Fish rigged on 1 ounce jigheads. So did most of the 35 stripers we caught today. Eight of our stripers were keepers ranging between 29 and 38 inches. The rest covered the gamut from 18 inch schoolies to one so close to being a keeper that if Steve had waited until next week to catch it, it might’ve been one.

Here’s your dose of fish porn featuring some of our better fish on the day.


Hatch – solo

Took a ride to Hatch today. Found 80 degree water that was surprisingly clear. Just a hint of a greenish tint, but a couple feet of visibility, which is a lot for Hatch. The curly leaf pondweed is completely gone, as it is by this time every year, and the milfoil is growing in pretty luxurious beds out to about 7 feet, with patchy growth beyond that. The milfoil is the healthiest, cleanest I’ve ever seen it at Hatch. Even where it was all cheezy on the surface (floating algae accumulated in the surface mat) the veggies underneath were bright green and clean. No slime, no scum.

I had a half-dozen 2 pound class fish, plus 4 fish between about 3-1/2 and 4-1/2. But the Hatch Pond Runt Brigade was out in force so I had to sort through a load of itty bitty ones to get the nice ones. I’m talking 9 to 11 inch little fish. A few even smaller. Caught little ones on a variety of presentations, off everything I threw at — wood, rocks, milfoil, pads. But except for my last 4 pounder, all the keepers came off a combination of wood, rocks and milfoil. The outlier came off the edge of a decent sized pad bed, and every last one of my decent fish came on a green pumpkin Ozmo/TitleSHOT jighead combo.

On a side note, I didn’t get there until after 7 this morning, but there were only three vehicles in the lot when I arrived. One belonged to a guy fishing off the shore at the ramp, and the other two represented a kayak and a small cartopper that were out on the pond ahead of me. Coming in at 4pm was a very different scenario. The only other craft on the lake were two kayaks. Yet that parking lot was crammed full of cars and trucks. If someone had driven in dragging a trailer, they would have had to back out, because there was no room to turn around. And other than one woman who was waiting for the young couple that was out kayaking, there was no one around. Not sure what all those cars were doing there, but it sure didn’t appear to have anything to do with boat launching or fishing access, which are the only legitimate reasons to park there.