July 1st - What's Next? Summer Fishing in the Long Island Sound
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July 1st - What's Next? Summer Fishing in the Long Island Sound

July 1st - What's Next? Summer Fishing in the Long Island Sound

It’s July 1st in southern Connecticut, and our summer season is in full swing, with the most recent large-scale change being a bump in water temperature on the Long Island Sound which, in the span of a few days, switched us from “spring run” fishing patterns to more “deep summer” patterns. For those who enjoyed the river-based live bunker bite for the last month or so, a decrease in the number of stripers available there is becoming clear and very quickly. There is an additional though sometimes overlooked factor at play now as well, and that is whether or not it’s responsible to target large, breeding striped bass (which legally can’t be kept anyways) in water that is now warm enough to dramatically increase their release mortality, even for fish that “swim off strong”. When those fish fight us on rod and reel, they battle to exhaustion, and even when given revival time near a boat or kayak, warmer water like we are seeing now can mean they are already too far gone.

It’s a moral tug-of-war – we know there are easily accessible fish, but, for many experienced anglers, the time to target striped bass in the river systems is pretty much over. Salty veterans will move on to their “out front” spots, 3-waying eels, throwing topwater, jigging spoons, or switching over fully to ground fishing, targeting fluke, porgy, and seabass (the seabass season opens back up on July 8th). But, what about if you are here visiting, or don’t fish often, and still want a great experience on our cherished Long Island Sound? You’re probably asking the question at the top of this page- what’s next? In that vein, the crew here at Black Hall Outfitters put together this quick and easy rundown of what to fish for, and the best ways to do so, in the Long Island Sound during July and August.

Local Striped Bass

Summer striped bass fishing becomes a game of time and weather. You can choose your tides and fish those regardless of time of day, but it’s a good bet that a great tide at midday in July still won’t be as good as whatever tide it is at 4-5am or 8-9pm. Warm water means stripers become particular about when and how they feed. Cooler, deeper waters are preferable during the day, whereas larger stripers will come shallower and closer to shore during low light hours when those waters cool and they can easily hunt the bait that lives in tight to dry land. So, if you want to striped bass fish during the day, prepare to use a big flutter spoon or 10-16 ounces of weight to 3-way a live eel out deep. If you want topwater or shallow fishing, your best bet is early or late.

Weather will also have an impact on striper fishing in the summer. A cooler, cloudy day, even with a bit of rain, might be the best fishing all week. Mornings with overcast conditions will potentially create an extended bite window, leading to multiple hours of strong fishing, perhaps even through a tide change.

So, for those summer stripers, consider staying out an hour or two later than normal or waking up a bit earlier. Invest in some good rain gear, which makes more of a difference than you might expect, and head out in some rainy weather to see what’s biting. In the summer, it could be pretty epic.

Non-Local Striped Bass

For those wanting a really exciting experience different from almost anything we do inshore in Connecticut, consider hooking up with a local charter captain who does Block Island trips. These include Blue Line Charters, Captain Joe Diorio, Twenty4Seven Guide Service, and ReelCast Charters. Block Island is arguably the striper capital of the world, and a night trip there can be the best striper fishing of your life. There are many ways to do it, but a night out at Block Island is a memory for life and an experience worth having.

Photo Credit: Captain Mike Roy of Reel Cast Charters

Seabass, Porgy, and Fluke

Ground fishing or bottom fishing is a favorite in our waters, and for the most part these species are consistently targetable throughout the summer. Bait rigs with squid or clams, slow pitch jigs, and bucktails tipped with pork rinds or squid strips are all great ways to fish for these species. They are also fun for both advanced anglers wanting to go big and use heavy weights down deep, or for family fun that lets the kids bend a rod on a nice summer day.

In terms of depth and location, in the deep summer the seabass tend to go deeper and relate more to structure rather than to the sandy spots they were more likely to hang out in during May and June. Using websites like Navionics or other mapping tools can help you locate some of the deeper reefs, bumps, humps, and troughs where a drift or three is worth the time. Another seabass favorite during summer months is current, meaning if you want to maximize your chances at a limit of fish or just get a good bite you may want to go deeper and into a place with good current. This could mean a heavier rod and reel setup paired with bigger weights, from 8 ounces up to 16 ounces.

Fluke fishing in our area can be spotty and at times frustrating, but when a good fluke smacks a bucktail or a big, smelly piece of bait, it makes the slow moments worth it. In the deeper summer months, starting at 30’ is a great idea, particularly if you see life on a fish-finder or if there is structure around. Fluke are ambush predators, so they want a bump to hide next to, a hump to sit behind, a reef to nudge into, or a rock to sit near. If you can target your drift to go between gaps in the reefs, that’s even better.

For fluke, the bait you use matters, and so does the color of a bucktail or squid skirt if you choose to use one. In the deep summer, squid that was plentiful in June tends to fade away, so consider using bait that matches peanut bunker, sea robin, or is just big and smelly enough so that a fluke can’t resist, no matter what type it is.

There are as many rigs for fluke as there are fluke in the ocean, and most veteran doormat hunters will swear by their favorite one. If you’re looking to get started, a standard high-low rig will get the job done, and there are even some pre-made rigs with clips on the bottom for easily switching out bucktail weights and colors.

Other Species

Partway through the summer, you may start to notice some splashy schools of surface-feeding fish, which, when they eat, make a sound like someone spraying a garden hose onto the water. Many times, you hear them before you see them, and they move pretty quickly. These are mackerel, most likely chub mackerel. They’re generally used as bait, frozen and chunked for striped bass and bluefish, but if you’re in the mood try and get one, small metals and epoxy jigs can sometimes do the trick, and they are pretty fish as well.

Much later in the summer, reports of false albacore will start to be whispered around, but generally aren’t targetable in the Long Island Sound until mid-September. If you’re eager for an August albie, Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard, or Nantucket would be the place to go. Once we hit September and October, fall fishing kicks in and it’s a totally different ballgame out there. For now, dig into some of these summer tips, enjoy these incredible Connecticut summer months, and catch a few fish along the way. For all of your fishing, kayaking, and summer apparel needs, come visit us as Black Hall Outfitters in Westbrook or Old Lyme. We will be here ready to help you make a few lifetime summer memories.

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