Fishing: Summer flounder fishing kicks up a gear
Wasn't it just yesterday everybody was complaining about the winter-like weather in late May? Thursday's and Friday's 90-plus heat squashed those complaints in favor of: "Whoa, Jane, crank up the AC, will ya, babe?"
The good news is the hot spell should finally push Long Island Sound water temperatures over the 60-degree mark, which kind of represents the start of real summer fishing. Two good rules of thumb for successful summer fishing are:
1. Get up early. Fish are like milkmen (you remember them, right?). They like to get their work done before the sun is too far above the horizon.
2. Stay up late. Like all night. Striped bass are rock `n' roll party animals, they crave their action after sunset, especially when the moon is high and the bait is running.
But if you are like me and need a lot of sleep, then fluke fishing, which will hit its peak in June, may be your cup of tea, I mean beer. Yeah, beer.
Fluke, or summer flounder, are easily identified by their embarrassingly white underbelly and dark spotted backs. Like all flounder, the fluke's eyes are both on one side of its head (the dark side). Another fluke giveaway that separates it from its cousin the winter flounder is its set of tiny but very sharp dentures that can inflict a nasty finger bite on careless hook removers.
Unlike winter flounder, fluke are aggressive feeders. They will follow a bait right to the surface before striking. Their strategy is to lay motionless in the mud or sand until something tasty passes by their protruding eyes. When something appears (with luck, your bait), it pounces like a tiger from the bushes.
In Connecticut, the minimum length for fluke is 17.5 inches with a daily creel limit of five fish per angler. Shore anglers in certain posted access sites can take fluke of 16 inches under the state's Enhanced Opportunity Shore Fishing Program.
The best fluke fishing is usually shoal areas where bait is plentiful, especially where the shoal is adjacent to a drop-off to deep water. Larger fluke often gather at such spots to await the bait fish that flow across the shoal on swift-moving tides. Fluke like water depths between 10 to 25 feet, but will venture much closer to the beach when the bait is there. Inshore sand flats near drop-offs are also productive fluke habitat.
The best baits for fluke are large spearing or squid strips. Sinkers of differing weights are sometimes required to keep baits on the bottom in strong currents. Fluke are known to chase plain bucktails or even weighted flies. Letting boats drift with the tide so that the baits cover a lot of bottom area is an extremely effective fluking technique.
Good fluke locations around Bridgeport are Sunken Island off Southport, Penfield Reef, the mouth of Black Rock Harbor, and the breakwater at the mouth of the Housatonic River.
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CATFISH STOCKING: Bunnell's Pond in Bridgeport and Pickett's Pond in Osborndale State Park in Derby are two of the 20 lakes and ponds located throughout the state that were stocked with channel catfish last week. Workers from the Department of Energy and Environmental Protection released 21.000 catfish into state waters. Catfish are easily caught using worms or other baits suspended below a bobber. This week marks the end of the DEEP's stocking spring program with over 620,000 trout of several species.
-- CHARLES WALSH