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CTR with Steve Durkee and Yasunori Imai

Yasunori and I joined Steve Durkee for a striper and albie excursion out of the Baldwin Bridge ramp today. We were surprised that the lot was almost empty when we put in a few minutes after 7, given that today was the start of the fall blackfish season.

The albies never showed.

The stripers more than held up their end of the bargain.

The first stop, we had a triple hookup. But they weren’t the big fish we were looking for, and they were all caught on jighead rigged plastics. We wanted fat girls on topwater, so we left and went on the prowl. It didn’t take long to find what we were looking for, and we had two more triple headers in short order.

Steve may have to change the name of his boat from double header to triple header!

We caught quality fish on topwater all through the last hour and a half or so of the outgoing tide. When it slowed a little, we went out into the sound in search of albies.

That turned out to be a waste of time and gas.

Back in the river, we got on better fish on jig and plastic, although Yasunori stuck with the topwater plug and caught another good one on that. I hooked the only bluefish of the day. I got all the fun part of a blue, from the savage attack and the bulldog runs to a couple sweet headshaking jumps before it went and did what bluefish do. Bye-bye bluefish, bye-bye lure.

On a hunch, we took a ride a few miles inland.

Sometimes, playing a hunch pays off bigtime.

Not today.

Back down in our normal stomping grounds, we found schoolies blitzing peanut bunker and caught the snot out of them for 20 minutes or so. Not big, but a fish every cast on topwater is still fun. Eventually, we hit our cleanup spot and got another handful of bigger schoolies on jigheads before calling it quits at about 1:45.

The parking lot at the ramp was no longer anywhere near empty. The number of trailers in the lot was surprising for a weekday — even a weekday that also happens to be to start of toggin’.

I believe that we ended the day with 17 or 18 keepers out of more than 60 fish among the three of us.

Here’s a sample of today’s fish porn.

The “Champlain Trip” with Yasunori Imai

At the moment, this page is just a place-holder for the write up on our 4 day trip to points north, which might not get written until my friend Yasunori leaves for Japan next week.


Three men in a tub.

They were joined in the tub (for quick visits only) by way too many fish to even think about counting.

Carl Lovisolo and I joined Steve Durkee for a Connecticut River/Long Island Sound trip yesterday.

It started early with a triple header striper hookup within minutes after shutting down the big motor and dropping the Minnkota in the water. We continued to catch stripers and a few big bluefish for a couple hours, all on topwater offerings. Mostly Slug-Gos and Fin-S Fish, but a few on hard baits as well.

The bluefish may have been biting better than the stripers, but they seemed to have particularly poor aim, because it usually took them 6 or 7 swipes to make contact with the lure. Being bluefish, making contact often meant destroying — or sometimes biting off — the soft plastic lure. So ‘fish in the boat,’ we didn’t catch as many blues as stripers, even though they seemed more active and plentiful.

We went outside the river to check a shallow bar/rip that Steve had smoked them on last time out, and found bluefish, bluefish and more bluefish. Back inside, but to a slower bite now.

Time to put operation albie into high gear! We checked a couple albie spots, and found quite a few boats out there. Waiting for the fish to show themselves. Not. Even. Casting. Just waiting. We sat for a few minutes, but Steve isn’t the kind of guy who is into waiting. Patience is not his strong suit.

Back to his shallow rip. Not much rip, as the tide is dying. Still plenty of bluefish though.

Let’s try that point were we did so well in the early fall peanut bunker rush a couple years ago!

And when we got there, we were pretty much done moving around for the day, except for incremental moves within the large shallow area. We found untold numbers of striped bass and bluefish gorging themselves on peanut bunker on this shallow point. It was nonstop fish breaking everywhere, with birds diving and whole schools of peanuts running right up out of the water at times. Here, the bluefish and the stripers seemed to be divided by some invisible line. There was a little overlap at times, but mostly it was a matter of wander too far south, and it’s chopper city. Move north far enough though, and it’s all stripers, all the time. Mostly big schoolies and keepers in training, but with enough 30 inch plus fish in the mix to keep us happy and our arms sore.

We were done before 1 o’clock. The fish were still there and biting (albeit a little slower) but we were beat. Turns out that when you get older, energy is a finite commodity. Who knew?

We never caught anything really huge, but among the 3 of us, we probably caught a hundred or more respectable fish, including about 10 keeper stripers and at least that many blues in the 30 inch range or bigger. Every last one of them on a surface presentation!

Housy and Long Island Sound this morning.

Steve Durkee and I met at the Derby ramp this morning, and wasted little time before heading down river. The first time we stopped on a bunch of arcs, I hooked up on the first cast and managed to break the fish off. Forgot that I had cranked the drag down tight when using that rod for largemouth over the weekend. That works with largemouth. Not with stripers.

By the time I got retied, we couldn’t find those arches on the screen anywhere in the area.

Back on the move. The closer to the sound we got, the heavier the fog was. The fog was actually kind of weird. It was not laying on the water at all. But made a solid blanket about 50 to 75 feet over our heads. When we got down close to the airport, it was kind of strange watching jets take off, and as soon as they got maybe 75 feet up, they just disappeared from sight. Like CGI effects in a movie.

Caught a pretty good schoolie on a jig at the next stop, but no sooner had I unhooked it, than big fish started breaking in shallow water nearby! Lifted the electric and headed there in a hurry.

The bait we were seeing was tiny, and our 7 and 9 inch offerings weren’t getting touched. I had a light rod rigged with a smaller unweighted bait for a hopeful encounter with albies, so I grabbed that.

Game on.

A couple lost fish and a break-off upset me, but didn’t stop me, and I managed a 31 and a 33 inch Striper before the action died. It looked like it was starting over again a hundred yards or so away, but when we got there, it turned out to be smaller stripers and way too many 2 to 3 pound bluefish to put up with for too long, and even the excitement of a topwater smash every cast wore out pretty quickly once we realized we were sitting in the middle of runt city.

More small fish at the next stop.

Tide only had an hour or so of outgoing left by this time, and with the nearly flat seas, we figured it was as good a time as any to hit some nearby spots in the Sound. The first one we stopped at, we ended up parking at for about two hours. After a little bit of wiggling around and finding the right spot on a point, I put the Terrova on Spot Lock and we just settled in and caught fish — mostly on topwater, with both unweighted Slug-Gos and hard surface baits.

As fussy as the fish in the river had been earlier, responding almost exclusively to 5 inch-ish, white soft lures (a 5.5″ Albino Shad Freaky Fish was my hot setup in the river), the stripers and blues out in the Sound seemed anxious to smack the snot out of just about anything we threw. When our bite seemed to die off, I would just use the Minnkota’s jog feature to move us 25 feet or 30 feet so, and get back to hammering them.

They bit through the end of the outgoing. They bit during the slack tide, and they bit on the incoming. They weren’t keepers, but they weren’t runts either. Mostly fish in the 18 to 24 inch range. Plenty of fun on our medium freshwater gear. We were having so much fun we never even thought about counting.

Eventually, we decided that the tide was getting close to right for a different spot, where we hoped we’d find some toadlier stripers. As it happens, the tide wasn’t quite right yet, so after a quick pass there, we went back into the river to burn an hour or so re-fishing one of our spots from earlier. Caught a load of small to medium fish on top there, then went back to the spot we were so confident would turn out some big fish once the depth and current got right.

Turned out that our expected hot spot was full of 3# bluefish (like most everywhere else seemed to be today). I did have one big striper explode on a 7″ Fin-S Fish, but failed to hook up. Steve caught one of the largest Sea Robins I’ve ever seen, on a 7″ unweighted Superfluke on top.

While we were fishing that area, the fog finally disappeared. Fishing got a lot tougher are that, but it might at least partially have been because we resisted the idea of going to a jig and plastic for the most part, and stuck with a topwater approach.

Soon Steve thought he saw albies breaking in the distance, so off we went.

Upon closer examination, those albies turned out to be more 3# bluefish. We fed them plastic for a few minutes before starting our trek back up river. Needed to get home and rest up for tomorrow’s fishing!

Lost weekend

I had a few chores scheduled for Saturday that kept me off the water.

I understand the bass bit well in fresh water on Saturday, and so did just about everything in the salt.

No to worry. I’d give ’em hell on Sunday.

Yeah — right.

Sunday morning found Jimfish and I at Mudge. Started with the usual shallow and mi-depth tactics while the sun was still low in the sky. I may have had a bite from a mini-pickerel.

Didn’t actually catch a fish until I picked up the drop shot rod and went deep. Even then, the bite was painfully slow and the fish were small. Nine little bass between us. Mostly in the pound-and-a-half to pound-and-three-quarters range. The biggest might have been two pounds.

Or it might not have.

Even the pickerel were small. It wasn’t much help that the air was still, the sun bright, and the temperature ridiculous. We were two old geezers in a boat, roasting.

By noon we were ready for a change of venue. We fished our way back to the ramp, loaded the boat and headed for Hatch. Should have just put the electric motor on high and beelined it to the ramp instead of wasting the better part of an hour fishing our way in. Maybe our brains were addled from the excessive heat.

Other than a respite from the heat while fishing the shaded west bank, Hatch was no better. We got another 9 bass between us. They made the ones we got at Mudge almostĀ seem big.

If we had tails, we would have tucked them between our legs when we just gave up and called the day a lost cause around 3:30.