Sunday, March 12, 2017

Sea run Trout

What brings trout anglers out, in many cases, those who primarily frequent saltwater, in mid-winter to fish for the elusive sea-run? The air is cold, the water chilled, and often, the wind piercing. Nevertheless, this small but dedicated slice of angler population braves the elements each and every season. There are river rainbows to catch along with normally stocked browns and brookies. But it’s the sea-run that brings fishers to the banks.

The popularity of this anadromous fish has even caught the attention of many state inland fish and wildlife divisions–so much so that here in Connecticut, several lower tidal rivers have been given the designation of “sea-run trout rivers.” Studies are ongoing in various New England states and New Jersey in an attempt to gather meaningful data and bolster or create sea-run trout programs.

Sometime in the fall, these stockier, silvery trout enter from their saltwater environment and return to the sweet water. The avenues traveled are tidal rivers that lead to spawning grounds farther inland. Here they remain and, after a few weeks, regain their familiar brilliant colors. In the spring, these “salters” return to the briny where they forage on a variety of foods and gain the weight and stamina lacking in many of their non-salter cousins.

It is believed by many that sea-runs travel to and from the fresh/salt water throughout the seasons, similar to striped bass. Others maintain that their experiences seem to indicate salters are more apt to be caught in spring and fall. At any rate, catching these beauties is both challenging and rewarding.

Bait, flies, spinners, spoons, and swimmers can all be used to catch these traveling trout. During a winter thaw and just prior to a following low/cold front can be ideal conditions to cast for these sea-run browns and brookies. On the surface, lower tidal rivers may seem dormant but lurking below can be sub-surface activity generated by migrating salters. When drive and determination to head upriver is interrupted, their fight can be exciting.

Such was the case on this February day when things came together. After fishing the catch and release stretch of this popular river and hooking into mostly rainbows, a move was made much farther downriver. About a mile and a half from the Sound, at a spot where it wound its way toward the headwaters, fishing action heated up. Maybe for an hour tops, we managed to intercept several salters heading out.

Occasionally, the least likely watercourses can turn out to be productive tidal avenues for sea-run fishing. If there’s a way for salters to reach upriver spawning grounds, then chances are they’ll take it. If spawning is then successful, there will be a lasting imprint and these paths will be used again and again by both fish and fishers.

On the Water/Ice

Soon we’ll be drifting into another low/cold front combo but, in the meantime, a mid-winter thaw took hold. Although central Long Island Sound remains at the 35-degree mark, our midweek air temperatures hit the 40s. Entering into a new week, early morning temperatures dropped to well below freezing, enhancing ice fishing along the shoreline. However, farther inland there was less of an impact where ice remained thick although slushy in places.

During our recent spring-like weather, tidal areas sheltered from strong winds offered good sea-run trout fishing. Overall, sea-run trout activity has been on the upswing and probably will improve as February moves into early March.

With the temporary reduction in edge and bank ice, salmon fishing in the Shetucket and Naugatuck rivers improved. Both Mashapaug and Crystal lakes have also become popular destinations for lake salmon. Generally, our stocked trout lakes are producing fairly consistent catches. Mansfield Hollow along with the coves dotting the Connecticut River are still seeing good pike catches on large shiners.

Perch and other panfish catches continue to be numerous with jiggers, while large/smallmouths are being caught using tip-ups rigged with free-swimming shiners and jigging sticks/lures. The bullhead and channel cat bites seemed to have eased but not so for pickerel. Lakes and ponds keep on looking like a typical Norman Rockwell winter scene with anglers, shanties, sleds, tip-ups, and cooking stations. What a great winter for the sport!

Note: Captain Morgan’s has all 2009 fishing, hunting, trapping licenses/permits (rifle, shotgun, archery, muzzle loader, HIP, CT duck stamps, etc.) available including shellfish licenses for Guilford and Madison. Don’t wait until opening day. Git’er done now!

Whenever and wherever fishing, think Captain Morgan’s for all things fishy including the latest gear, bait, flies/flyfishing, rod/reel repair, clam/crabbing supplies and licenses/permits. Swing by the shop (203-245-8665) open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter, where we don't make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better...

Tight Lines,
Captain Morgan

Pictured: Mark Punzelt of Madison had a good day of sea-run trout fishing when he landed fish to 17 1/2 inches on artificial swimmers. Catching a break in the weather, he opted for the Hammonasset River. Here he is seen releasing a fine winter sea-run brown trout caught in the Hammonasset River.

Photo courtesy of Captain Morgan

Friday, June 19, 2009

Whoops! Saltwater licenses sold before Gov signed bill

State environmental officials have stopped selling new saltwater fishing licenses, after realizing the bill creating them still awaits the governor's signature.

State lawmakers approved the bill on June 3 and the Department of Environmental Protection began selling the "marine waters fishing licenses" for $10 apiece two days later.

Officials say the DEP sold about 2,800 of the licenses before discovering its error and shutting down the sales. The DEP will wait to see if Gov. M. Jodi Rell signs the bill before issuing refunds, if needed.

The governor's office is not saying whether she'll sign the bill, which would require an estimated 100,000 people to get annual licenses to fish in Long Island Sound.

A DEP spokesman says staff members made a mistake, but had good intentions.

CT Tightens Laws on Drunken Boating

Penalties for drunken boaters who cause a death are being boosted in Connecticut to mirror those faced by intoxicated motor vehicle drivers.

The state House of Representatives voted unanimously Friday for the tougher law, previously approved by the Senate. Gov. M. Jodi Rell pushed for the change and is expected to sign the bill, which would take effect July 1.

Currently, intoxicated boaters who cause someone's death can be charged with reckless operation of a vessel, a crime with fines up to $5,000 and up to two years in prison.

The new measure would let authorities charge those people with manslaughter with a vessel, making it a felony similar to motor vehicle law. Penalties include fines up to $10,000, up to 10 years in prison, or both.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Maine Cancels Salmon Season

Maine officials canceled the month long fishing season for Atlantic salmon (May 22 to June 22) in the latest possible sign of escalating tension between the state and the federal government over the imperiled fish.

The sudden reversal came after federal regulators met with Gov. John Baldacci and the Atlantic Salmon Commission last week to discuss the pending decision about whether Maine salmon will be added to the endangered species list. During that meeting, representatives from the National Marine Fisheries Service apparently reiterated their strong opposition to a catch-and-release season for Atlantic salmon on the Penobscot River.

Federal officials are expected to announce in the coming weeks whether salmon in three of Maine’s largest rivers — the Penobscot, the Kennebec and the Androscoggin — will be protected under the Endangered Species Act. The Penobscot River is the only U.S. waterway that still sees a sizeable run of spawning Atlantic salmon. But more than 90 percent of the returning fish can be traced to two federal fish hatcheries, and the 1,000 or so fish that typically return to the river annually are a fraction of historic runs.

Friday (May 22, 2009) would have been only the second “opening day” for spring salmon fishing on the Penobscot in a decade. The state held an identical catch-and-release season last spring, again over the vocal objections of federal officials. While fewer than 200 fishermen participated last spring — resulting in a financial loss for the state — the commission and DMR staff said the season proved that the state could run a carefully monitored fishery without harming the population. Anglers were restricted to using single-pointed, barbless flies and were required to re-lease all fish immediately.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Saltwater Fishing Fans Will Soon Pay the Price

Gov. Rell is expected to sign into law requring saltwater anglers to have a license. The only question that remains at this point is where the money will go.
Revenues from the licenses projected at about $1 million per year - will go to a DEP environmental conservation fund. That could change, however, depending on what's in the state budget once it's adopted. Rell's proposed budget calls for all DEP revenues to go into the general fund, which would include the license fees.

State Rep. Edward Moukawsher, D-Groton, who opposes the new fee wrote a letter to U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, asking for an investigation of new federal laws that prompted the state to impose the new license. State officials and others who supported the bill said the state license made sense as a way to keep revenues in the state rather than let them go to the federal government. Without a state license, anglers would be required to sign on to a national registry and pay federal fees to catch certain types of fish.

If the money goes into a general fund - they might as well rename it - Saltwater Fishing Tax To Help Pay For Things Connecticut Can't Afford.

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Fisherman Reels in Live Military Missile

He caught the fish, I mean 8' missile, while long lining in the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles off Panama Beach. He thought it had already been detonated and wanted to keep it as a souvenir, so he tied it up to his fishing boat, the "Bold Venture". "For two days, I had lightning striking all over my boat and I had that on my roof," Salomon said. "Nothing happened."

Thursday, June 04, 2009

The Case for the Saltwater Fishing License

Bob Sampson makes the case for why Connecticut anglers need to support the saltwater fishing license. My understanding is a saltwater fishing fee or license is coming and it's only a matter of who get's that money - Connecticut or the Feds. Read Bob's article on this important matter.

600ft Jellyfish Crop Circle

Apparently July to August is crop circle season in Britain. "I imagine this will not be the last one we will see this summer and it has already been a busy summer for spotting them as they are well ahead of schedule. In past years the crop circle season has typically run from July to August but already four have been found in barley fields stretching from Wiltshire to Oxfordshire this year.

Where'd they come from? 'Croppies' (crop circle theorists) believe the patterns are created by UFOs or by natural phenomena such as unusual forms of lightning striking the earth.

Watch out: "People believe they will increase in frequency up to 2012 where there will be some kind of cataclysmic world event."

Striped Bass & Bluefish Comsumption Alert

The Connecticut Department of Public Health is issuing renewed warnings that young children, and women who are pregnant, nursing or of childbearing age, should not eat two types of fish.
Authorities in Connecticut and six other East Coast states — Maine, New Hamsphire, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland. — released coordinated warnings about the striped bass and large bluefish over 25 inches from their local waters. In Connecticut , both are commonly caught in Long Island Sound.

The fish contain polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCBs, at levels that are of potential concern to the general public, according to the Connecticut Department of Public Health. PCBs can affect the endocrine system and brain development and can cause cancer in animals.

Wednesday's advisory reflected new data indicating that PCB levels have dropped. In the past few years, the state health department has recommended that the general public eat large bluefish and striped bass only once every two months, rather than every month as advised this year.

Children under 6 and women who are nursing, pregnant or of childbearing age are considered at higher risk and should not eat the fish at all. Everyone else should eat no more than one meal of the fish per month, according to the state health department.

The seven states released their advisories together so travelers would know to be cautious about the fish in all of the affected states, since the fish tend to move between states. "The species are migratory and many of the fish that are in Connecticut today could be in New Jersey in the fall," said Brian Toal, an epidemiologist with the state health department.

PCBs, which were used as coolants and lubricants in electrical equipment, have not been used in U.S. manufacturing for more than 30 years, but they exist in the ocean off the East Coast from past use, when they leaked into storm sewers and made their way into rivers and the ocean. Larger, predatory fish tend to accumulate higher levels of PCBs from eating smaller fish that have PCBs in them.

The health department is urging people to continue eating fish for their health benefits, such as omega 3 fatty acids. Other commonly eaten fish from Long Island Sound, including blackfish, winter flounder, fluke and scup, are low in PCBs and other contaminants.

Saturday, May 30, 2009

$10 Saltwater Fishing License Coming Soon

Oh great: Connecticut's House of Representatives has overwhelmingly approved a bill requiring saltwater licenses as of June 15. The proposal is before the state Senate.

Why?: The licensing program is intended to keep pace with federal law aka Because they said so that's why!

Read More: Bill Sets Fee for Saltwater Fishing and Saltwater Fishing license soon to be required.