Striper Bite Sizzles in SpringFebruary 16, 2017
Striper Bite Sizzles in Spring
On a scale of 1 to 10, I give the 2016 season a 6 for larger striped bass and bluefish because, after early June, we had very few large fish holding on our reefs and shoals. The action picked up again in October and November, but consisted primarily of smaller bass in the Western Long Island Sound, and you were fortunate to get into bass over 20 pounds from July through the end of the season. I broke the 30-pound-mark on stripers west of New Haven only three times in the entire 2016 season, which was an all-time low for me! That also cost me a lot in fuel expenditures, as I was running to eastern Connecticut waters during the summer, where I produced several bass over 40 pounds and two over 50 pounds. I am confident we will see these fish move back into the west on a more regular basis as they get acclimated to the enormous supply of bait throughout the entire Sound.
The hottest bite for larger striped bass was during the entire month of May and on into the middle of June in areas between Milford and Greenwich. These fish did not decide to hang around very long this year and headed east in pursuit of huge schools of bunker. The local reefs had a 6- to 8-week period of good to excellent larger-sized bass and bluefish action, and then things really slowed down. We never experienced a run of cow bass in the region; as I noted above, a 30-pound bass was not easy to come by west of the Connecticut River.
By far, the best light-tackle fishing for striped bass are almost always the months of November and early December, and then again in March and April as resident river fish become active. These bass will be lethargic and stacked in deep channels in January and February, but by early March they will again start feeding near the warmer mud flats and outflows. This offers some of the best light-tackle action of the year for our local waters – if you are not looking to catch large fish. However, don’t be surprised to hook into an occasional keeper or even a solitary 40-incher.
Soft-Plastic Baits On Jigheads Produced
My most productive fly for bass and blues was once again a 6- to 10-inch white flatwing Deceiver. Epoxy anchovy patterns were deadly for the albie bite when the wind calmed down enough for the long rod. For the spring resident bass fishery, I like a ½- to 1-ounce jighead with a pearl Whip-It Eel worked very slowly across the current.
Our bunker situation continues to trend in a positive direction throughout the entire region. I see no reason this will change, since the bunker harvesting regulations to our south remain strong. As I mentioned earlier, I will go out on a limb and say we are due to get a solid return of sand eels this year, but this prediction is certainly a gamble based on the past 5 years. I expect us to again have excellent fishing for large migratory striped bass and bluefish by early May, and I hope this will last longer into the summer before the fish head to eastern Connecticut waters as they have done the past several seasons. We have no shortage of bait, but areas to our east have even more.
In all, I think it’s safe to say we should experience an excellent run of large migratory stripers and bluefish during May and June. After that, the action will depend largely on whether we see sand eels, which would spark a summer-long fishery for inshore bass and blues, as well as fluke and sea bass. I once again expect to see false albacore infiltrate the area by early September. Since the summer bass fishery has been poor, light-tackle enthusiasts always look forward to their arrival. Fluke fishing was again slow for most of the season, primarily due to the lack of sand eels. Sea bass fishing was good again, and I expect it to remain strong.