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Lunker City Fishing Specialties

Piscatorial smorgasbord on the Sound

Steve Durkee and I enjoy fishing the Branford area of the Sound because of all the rocky islands, humps reefs and so forth.  You always seem to have a fishy looking spot within casting range. But with the state ramp in Branford closed for renovations for the past couple years, we haven’t had the opportunity to get out there.

The newly renovated ramp finally opened over this past weekend, and we took the opportunity today to check out the ramp and fish some of our favorite spots.

Ostensibly, we were after stripers. But we caught almost everything there is to catch on a hunk of plastic in Long Island Sound. Stripers. Bluefish. Black Sea Bass. Porgy. Fluke. Blackfish. I figure the only thing we didn’t catch that we might have expected to, was a sea robin. And that’s no great loss.

That’s the thing about fishing all those rocky structures. Just keep moving around and casting to anything that breaks the tidal current and causes a rip or a slick, and you’re bound to catch something, sooner or later. Eventually, you should see a pattern emerge, as to how deep to concentrate your efforts, whether to fish the up current or down current end of an island or shoal, and so forth.

None of the 50+ stripers we caught were keepers, and the blues were only 5 or 6 pounds each. We did have some large porgies, but hey, they’re porgies. Steve’s fluke (which he caught on a super fluke!) wasn’t quite a keeper, either. So that left me with only a couple fish to take pics of. Steve had a pretty good ‘tog, and I had a big ol’ knotheaded sea bass.


Knew going in it was going to be tough

Jimfish and I went to Mudge yesterday.

We went with high hopes, but low expectations.

The weather forecast called for mostly sunny, but 15 degrees cooler than Friday, with a stiff Northeast wind.  Not a good formula for a successful day on the water.

But instead of mostly sunny, we got completely cloudy — at least until about 1:30. Still way too windy, but at least we didn’t have bright, blue skies to contend with, so things were looking up.

Or so we thought.

To put it bluntly, we worked hard for precious little success. The best word to describe the fishing was mediocre. We caught 19 bass between us. We each had a couple approximately this size. Not the kind of fish that makes you reach for the camera every time you catch one, so after the first one in that size range, the camera never came out of my pocket again until the snapping turtle porn.

Yeah, you read that right, snapping turtle porn. How lousy does the fishing have to be for us to waste time shooting pictures of snapping turtles mating? (see below).

Except for a pair I caught on a green pumpkin Monkey Grub, everything I caught came on the Motor Oil Pepper Ribster, fished on a drop shot rig. Jim got half his on the Jumbo Jig, one on the PanHead, and a couple on the drop shot.

We also got a bunch of pickerel. Unlike the bass, the snakes seemed very active and aggressive.

Here’s the snapping turtle porn. Never knew they were into S&M. These things were biting the hell out of each other’s legs, necks and heads. Serious, snapping turtle chomps, too. I don’t think they know diddly about ‘love bites.’


Midweek Lillinonah trip – Short and not so sweet

I am not a big fan of Lillinonah in the summertime. Actually, much like Zoar, I spend little time there when the water’s above 45 or so. But the way things worked out today, that’s where I felt like I could go.

So I did.

Spent about 6 hours on the water, but to tell you the truth, today was more about finding out if the overheating problem in my tow vehicle is fixed. Wanted to pull the boat, but not too far. The steel bridge ramp is about a half hour away, so I did that. Seemed OK. Tomorrow, I’ll take a longer ride.

Tried a lot of my old spots. Think I may have had two bites. Decided to stop trying to fish memories and just find something that would bite. Put the boat on a steep bank, and cast a variety of offerings — spinnerbait, grub, jig & pig, jerk bait, soft jerkbait, a turd bait (Ned Rig) and a couple different crankbaits tight to the bank. The only thing that got bit at all, was a medium small, shallow running, mostly chartreuse crankbait.  Caught five on that. Nothing picture worthy. If I was in a tournament, I might have set a record for the lightest 5 fish limit ever.

Also spent a lot of time riding and getting an Axiom eye view of structures that I’ve fished for years. That was cool. But I couldn’t help but notice how little bait I was marking. Maybe it was just the post frontal conditions that had things off, but I hardly marked any fish, and almost no bait clouds.

I believe I’ll be back to Lilli again this year.

But I suspect it will be in November.

The stone wall at the base of the drop half way up the right side on this pic is one of the best cold water spots I've ever found. Nice to know it looks pretty much exactly as I always pictured it in my mind.

The stone wall at the base of the drop half way up the right side on this pic is one of the best cold water spots I’ve ever found. Nice to know it looks pretty much exactly as I always pictured it in my mind.

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.