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Lunker City Fishing Specialties

Was today the last hurrah for the Housy?

Steve and I had planned to fish the Connecticut River today, as it seemed to us that the action in the Housy had fallen way off toward the end of last week. But with the prediction for heavy rain combined with 20-plus winds out of the east, we opted for the narrower and more protected confines of the Housatonic and hoped for the best.

As it turned out, that big east wind never materialized, and the rain was light and intermittent most of the morning. We probably would have been fine on the CTR, but we’re OK with how things turned out for us on the  Housatonic.

Lets be clear about one thing. There are not a lot of stripers left in the Housy. There’s still some, including some decent ones. But the fishing is kind of slow and tedious. In 5½ hours or so this morning, we might have had 30 fish show themselves on our surface presentations. But a lot of those shows were drive byes and turnaways rather than hits. I believe we hooked up with a dozen fish. There were 4 keepers among the hooked fish, but one of those was the only fish hooked that didn’t make it to the boat, so we ended up with 3 keepers out of 11 fish boated. Not the best day on the water, but far from the worst.

The hot bait for the day was a 7″ range bait (7″ Fin-S Fish or 7½” Slug-Go) in the Sexy Shiner color, which was at the business end of about half the shows, which included all of the hookups other than two. Seemed like they attacked that one pretty aggressively, while they came up and looked at the usual suspects (white, ice shad, etc.) and usually backed off or turned away without taking a shot at them. Bigger baits were summarily ignored. If they drew any interest at all, it must’ve been from fish that turned off before getting within sight.

Then again, I don’t have any Sexy Shiner 9″ Slug-Gos.

As I said, there do not appear to be too many fish left in the river. With the Memorial Day Weekend upon us, I’m guessing that by the time I get out striper chasing again, the CTR will be the hands down better bet.

But you know I’ll have to check the Housy first, just because its so much more convenient.


Sun, sun and more sun.

On Tuesday, I fished with Steve Durkee.  It was sunny, and our two keepers both came before the sun got over the treeline on the eastern horizon. A lot of moving and experimenting kept us on fish most of the time, but the bite was anything but hot.

Hey Carl, that's not a striper!

Hey Carl, that’s not a striper!

On Wednesday, I went out with Carl Lovisolo and his friend Patrick. We raised a few good fish to our topwaters, but with the bright, cloudless sky, they were very non-committal, and none of them felt steel, much less made a trip to the boat. The three of us managed about 50 fish, with no keepers. The highlight of the day was Carl catching a largemouth twitchng an unweighted 7″ Fin-S Fish meant for stripers.

Today I was back out with Steve Durkee. Once again the sun was high and bright, although we did have some very light cloud cover early on. Thin as it was, that cloud cover filtered enough of the sunlight to extend the daybreak bite window for a while, and I managed to hook three early keepers to 34 inches, all on topwater, and all from different areas of the river.

But once that thin cloud cover disappeared, it was over. The topwater action died first. Then the jig and plastic action. We re-ran every area we’d caught fish from and managed to catch a whopping two more schoolies after the sun got high and unfiltered. With a catch of about 35 fish between us, we were headed for the trailer about 11AM.

The one saving grace of the weather we’ve had this week is that the water in the river is finally warming up. Surface temps were above 60 when we pulled the boat from the water a few minutes past 11 this morning. Not sure how many fish are left in the river, and what the majority of the herring are up to, having had their initial attempts at spawning laid waste by the three week series of cold fronts that preceded this week’s heat wave. But I guess I’ll have to go out there tomorrow to see if I can figure it out.

When I checked the weather before leaving home this morning, tomorrow’s forecast called for mixed sun and clouds in the morning. When I got home a little before noon, the cloudy part of that mixed forecast had disappeared. Yep, tomorrow looks like another bright and sunny day.

Another.

Bright.

Sunny.

Day.

Just what I need.

 


Something’s a little off in the Housy

And that something is the water temperature. Seems like about 10 days ago, the water temp flirted with 60 for a day or two, and may have actually broken that mark for about 15 minute late one sunny afternoon.

Today, the water temperature was a solid 54~55 degrees, even after the air temp had been in the 70s for a few hours. Where there had been keeper stripers eating herring a few days ago, today there were neither keeper stripers nor herring. Where ospreys had been diving for bluebacks to take to the nest for their young, today there were ospreys circling around, searching fruitlessly for the next generation’s next meal.

Don’t get me wrong — Steve Durkee and I caught quite a few fish today. But other than one keeper apiece and a handful of marginal keepers in training, it was all schoolies, all the time. Worse yet, we had to forego our topwater approach and go with jighead presentations to catch them.

Oddly — or maybe not — our two keepers were each of our first bites of the day, and they both came on unweighted 7″ Fin-S Fish. But they were separated by 3½ miles and an hour and a half, so it’s not like we were on to some great discovery.

It seems like every spring there’s a day or two at some point during topwater time on the Housy that it feels like the action is coming to a premature end, and then a few days later, all is right in that world again. I’m hoping  that’s the case here, and that today’s fishing was an aberration. That the lack of a predictable topwater bite and scarcity of big fish is the result of a weather related shutdown and not that the fish have spent the last couple days vacating the river.

The only fish porn I can offer today is Steve’s keeper. Mine slipped from my grip while I was digging for the phone and started thrashing around on my rods laying on the deck, so I just scooped it up and out of the boat before it broke one or knocked one into the drink. But it was barely a keeper anyway.

Maybe tomorrow will be better. Or the next day. It sure looks like the water will be warmer, so that’s a start.

 


The fishing today was good, mediocre, bad and very good, in that order.

Carl Lovisolo and I launched early today, to catch a couple hours of the outgoing tide. As expected, with the tide running out pretty good, the fish were chewing. And there was no doubt that the hot bite was on a 9″ Slug-Go. We both put a 7″ class bait into the mix, and had a notable lack of action on it. The 9 incher though, drew consistent responses from the fish. I even got a few rolls and one solid take on the 12 incher.

Rather than really hammer any specific area, we kept moving, trying to hit as many prime spots as we could while we still had some outgoing tide, knowing that things would almost surely change when the tide turned.

Unexpectedly, the bite continued through the first hour or so of incoming, albeit at a somewhat slower pace and with some small fish in the mix after the ebb. About an hour into the incoming tide, the expected shut off came down on us like an Acme anvil on Wiley Coyote.

We worked our way through most of the remainder of the incoming with nothing substantial to show for our efforts. We did find ourselves in a favorite area with the tide at just the height I like it, but still flowing in the wrong direction, and got 4 or 5 rolls and lookers that looked like some pretty solid fish. I made a mental note to be back at that spot a couple hours later, when the water level would be right where I like it, but with the tide running out.

Other than a couple little guys Carl caught when he succumbed to the temptation and threw a jig, I don’t believe we had a bite for the next two hours.

Then we went back to the spot I wanted to hit at just the right point in the tide. Sometimes, a plan comes together just right, and everything is beautiful. Feel free to let your imagination run wild, because that’s kind of what the fishing was like when we went back.

Don’t know how many fish we ended up with between us. Between the catches, the dropped fish and the missed fish, we had a great day, even with that slow period on the incoming tide. Most of my fish, including 8 of my 10 keepers, came on a tandem hook pre-rigged Slug-Go. The others 2 keepers and all of  Carl’s came on a traditionally rigged (Texposed) 9″ Slug-Go. The hot baits were Albino Shad and Ice Shad. Not that we experimented much with color options when we were catching them on the standard stuff. Come to think of it, the baits that were tied on when I started the morning were still tied on at day’s end, 30 some-odd fish later. Carl did have to change once, when a particularly big and stubborn girl broke him off.


Well that was an odd day on the water

Today started out pretty tough for Carl Lovisolo and myself. Everywhere we went, we had fish looking at our topwater offerings, swirling behind them, or just following them to the boat without making any kind of a move on them.

Oh, we caught some as we moved from spot to spot. Mostly small, but with a few keepers in training in the mix. We certainly weren’t catching a lot compared to the number we were seeing, and the size wasn’t very impressive, either. But when the fish are showing themselves as often as they were, it keeps both your interest and your hopes up.

All of that stopped an hour or so into the incoming tide.

The shows, the rolls, the swirls and the turnaways just dried up. And the fish we had been seeing with the electronics — scattered around every 6 to 10 foot deep flat we checked — disappeared too. So we invested a couple hours in checking areas farther down river.

That was a bad investment.

Eventually, we came back above the Parkway and found some fish that would bite again.

We were slowly working our way north, still getting a lot of swirls and boils, and catching the occasional fish, when we saw a tower of black smoke coming from somewhere south of Beacon Point Marine — in the area we’d very recently vacated. Turned out to be a boat on fire. They say it was out for a test run when one of the engines exploded.

I guess it failed its test.

To that point, so had we. As far as keeper sized fish go, anyway.

But as the current flow increased deeper into the outgoing tide, the bite got better and the fish bigger, so the day turned around after about 1:30 or so.

The bigger fish seemed to be showing a pronounced preference for bigger lures today. I know that all our keeper sized fish, and I’m pretty sure all but maybe one of our keepers in training today, came on 9″ Slug-Gos.

The burning boat came to rest at the mouth of the Far Mill River, near Sikorsky Aircraft. Photo from the Shelton Herald.

The burning boat came to rest at the mouth of the Far Mill River, near Sikorsky Aircraft. Photo from the Shelton Herald.