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Lunker City Fishing Specialties

A paucity of keepers

The last week or so has seen the fishing on the Housy really drop into serious February mode. Easy to find fish you can mark on the electronics. Not so easy to find fish you can actually catch.

And especially difficult to find bigger fish.

The bite hasn’t been awful, but it certainly hasn’t been great.  I’ve fished with Steve, Alex and Jimfish in the last week or so. All capable striper catchers. Typical catches have been 60 to 80 fish per day for two guys in the boat. With few, if any keeper size fish, and fewer still real fat girls.

About the most exciting part of the week was Steve and I each catching a salmon in one day. And that was a day after there were two other salmon caught in same general area of the river. Seems like a plug of them moved through.

One thing I did notice last week was that with the general lack of a serious bite, the “small school of bait” trigger seems to have moved into the foreground. Under normal conditions, I’d much rather fish a single lure. It’s a whole lot more flexible and it’s faster to fish. But I’ll admit that n my last trip out, it seemed a lot easier to trigger a bite with one of my old ChandeleirouZ single hook gang rigs.

Hopefully, things will improve with the warm spell that will arrive early this week.

Hit the water with Alex today.

We expected it to be dirtier and moving faster than it was. We also kind of hoped it would be a little less uncomfortable than it was, but you know how that turned out. Coldest feeling 50 degree day I can remember.

We fished from a little before 7 until just about noon. Caught more fish on the incoming than on the outgoing, but the better fish seemed to bite better when the current started rolling out at a decent clip after it turned.

We got some keepers in training, and a few actual keepers, but no really good fish. Biggest keeper was a hair under 32.  Hoping for bigger, but until today, I felt like Feburary was making me pay for my 33 keeper January, because my first few trips of the month had produced a grand total of 1 legal fish. And that was on the first, so I figured that fish just hadn’t checked the calendar before biting my lure.

Watched Steve hammer a few February keepers including a 41 incher, from his back seat, but I just couldn’t connect with one. Until today, anyway. So even if my two were only 29 inchers, it still felt good to break my keeper drought this month.

Sorry for the lousy pics — conditions were anything but conducive for photography this morning. Didn’t even want to dig in the inner pocket of the rain gear to get the phone out, to tell you the truth.

It was cold out there yesterday.

The forecast called for low forties with no wind to speak of, and rain in the afternoon.

We got low thirties with no wind to speak of and snow in the morning. And ice in the guides as long as we were out there.

Steve and I launched his boat around daybreak and headed down river. The water, which had been dirty and flowing hard the previous day was reasonably clear and flowing moderately.

It was not a pleasant day on the water, but at least it wasn’t windy. We caught fish, but never had a fast and furious bite. Every now and then, one of us would catch three or four in a row, but for the most part it was a one here, two there kind of day.

Steve put a couple keeper in the boat, starting out with a 30 incher and banging a beautiful 41 inch fish a short time later.

A little skim ice, plenty of mud, a whole lot of oil, and oh yeah, a bunch of fat girls.

The river is slowly clearing from last week’s rain and snow melt, but it’s still off color enough to keep the fat girls chewing a bit. The big deal today though (other than the fishing) was how quickly and how hard yesterday’s oil spill in Waterbury hit the Housatonic.

Regardless of having to wipe it down to get the mud and oil off when I pulled it from the water today, it was great to finally get out in my own boat again, and Alex and I had some great fishing.

We started out hoping to get a few keepers early, and when the bigger fish seemed to be in a chewing mood, we adjusted our plan of attack to hopefully maximize our keeper catch. Part of our strategy was to sacrifice steady action from the little guys by staying off the thick schools of fish. Of course we cheated every now and then and put in 15 minutes or a half hour on a thick school, just to get a bunch of bites, but then we’d move away from the heavy school and start looking for arches we could count on the Raymarine display.

Not all the fish in those scattered packs are lunkers, so you’re still going to get some smaller fish. But even with the little guys mixed in, you’re not looking at hundred fish days with this strategy. Or even 50 fish days. Today, we didn’t bother counting fish. I’d hazard a guess that we had somewhere in excess of 30 each, and we fished for almost 7 hours. But we ended up with a nearly matched pair of 31 inchers on a simultaneous hook set double header to push our keeper total for the day to a dozen, and we probably had close to 20 fish in the quality schoolie to keeper in training range.

We also stuck (for the most part) with 7″ baits on 1 oz heads, and that seemed to help a lot too. I got my keepers on a 7″ Ayu Fin-S Fish, while Alex used an Albino 7″ Magnum Super Fluke.

Next time out, our big fish strategy might end up getting us skunked or giving us a one fish day. Or it may not last the day, when a lack of action sends us back to the thick schools to get bit at all. Or who knows, it might just give us another day like today, or maybe even better!

We still have count and cadence issues to iron out, too. Pretty sure Alex got most of his keeper and quality schoolie action running his bait higher and faster than I was working mine.

We’ll continue to experiment. In the meantime, enjoy some fish porn below.

The river wasn’t quite as ice free as expected

Skim ice was pretty much shore-to-shore when Alex and I launched his boat just before 7 this morning, and for the first couple hours, 90% of our fishing was done with the line straight up and down through small openings in the ice, as it was pretty much impossible to cast. Kind of like ice fishing, but from a boat.

Every now and then while we were moving around under electric power, we’d get surprised by a big sheet of ice that was way more than just skim.

The ice didn’t so much melt as it drifted down river when they started running water at the dam, and didn’t really clear out much until the wind came up out of the north. Most of the early morning ice eventually got blown down as far as an ice jam just south of Sunnyside. But plenty more ice came over the dam to replace that, and we did a lot of ice breaking when we were headed back toward the ramp just before one.

Alex had a couple keepers on the day, including this 33 incher.

Alex had a couple keepers on the day, including this 33 incher.

The fish were not particularly active, but we managed to catch a hundred or so between us.