August 12th - A Juicy Pre-Fall Setup

Stripers and Blues- Striper fishing is still in summer mode, meaning you can find some big fish but you’ve got to target them properly and at the right time if they’re going to take what your tossing. Pre-dawn, post-sunset, or middle of the night remains a good bet for some fun action, as the larger fish are moving in to take advantage of the cooler conditions and the plethora of bait which has recently moved into the area. Mike Roy of Reel Cast Charters reports that live bait is the way to go, be it a porgy, eel, or even a bunker if you can find a school and cast-net them. Use a large circle hook or octopus circle hook and drift your bait in local hot-spots, particularly if you are seeing good marks on your electronics. There are schoolie bass blitzing on the baitfish in the area, so try to match what they’re feeding on and toss some different lures in there until you get them biting.

Large soft-plastics are also working well for big stripers, particularly at night. Be aware that there are larger bluefish up to 15 pounds in the area, particularly the Race, so if your seeing marks but your soft-plastics are coming up looking like they got hit with a weedwhacker then you’re probably on blues. GT Eels continue to be hot this summer, particularly at night. We recently got a huge shipment into the Westbrook shop, including 7 colors of the 9.5” eel which Gravity owner Gabe Ravizza says is a nice change up at times from the 13.5” eel and can get bites when other presentations can’t. There are even some colors unique to the 9.5” eel that look pretty juicy!

As we look ahead to the fall, anglers should be feeling quite positive about the pre-fall setup. Tons of bait has moved in, mackerel and bonito have followed (though bonito sightings are still few and far between as of now), and it seems the ingredients are all present in the Sound for a great fall. The more bait the better, as the migratory biomass of stripers will swing through our area on their way to winter off of the Carolinas, and they’re after a nice hearty meal before the trip!

BHO Fishing Team member Scott Schneider suggests that if you want to target the chub, frigate, and Spanish mackerel that have been seen blitzing from Watch Hill to Niantic, you’ll have to be patient. Chasing them down with your engine may spook them, and it’s likely they’ll be down before you get there. Your best bet is to set up in an area where there are numerous blitzes and bottom-fish until a school gets within casting distance. Mackerel blitzes are noticable as they are a sort of frothing “wave” that rises and falls. You’ll often hear these blitzes before you see them. Make sure you’ve got an epoxy jig from Hogie or Tsunami and proper leader material and send it into the fray! It won’t be long before bonito join the mix in more numbers, and then it’ll be game on for some fall chaos!

Seabass and Porgies- The seabass bite remains solid on humps both in shallower water around 35’ and in deeper water above 100’. Metal butterfly jigs from Fish Labs, Shimano, or Daiwa will do the trick, and you’ll often pick up other species as well such as bluefish, porgy, striper, or fluke. If you want keepers, try targeting different sections of humps, rather than repeating a drift over the same spot. These fish will set up in an area they like around the hump, and if you only focus on one section you may be missing your chance at a big one.

Fluke- At risk of sounding like a broken record- Fluke fishing remains hot and cold in shore, with the majority of fish caught coming up short of the 19” keeper requirement. To maximize your shot at a keeper, try to focus your drift on an area where you’re getting bites, and zero in on the specifics in terms of color and presentation. Fluke are sometimes concentrated in an area the size of your back yard, and with this year being a tough one it’s important to learn as you drift and narrow your target area. M3 Tackle Spoons have become quite productive again, especially as a second presentation in addition to buck-tailing.

Crabbing- According to BHO report contributor Sean Harrison, crabbing remains top notch. Even the shorts being caught now seem to be barely under legal size, which means by the time September and October come around they should be ready for some steam and spices!

Freshwater- Lots of grass and lily pads in our local waters mean you have to adjust. Use electronics to find deeper grass lines, as most of the time vegetation on a point grows out much further than you may be able to see, even with some nice Costa shades on! If you can see vegetation down to 5’ and it’s still thick, there’ a good chance it grows even deeper. Finding that growth line can be key! Senkos have been very successful recently, and some big bass have also come on Ribbit frogs from Stanley and Hale Lure Company.

Contributors: Seven Stripes Fishing, Wise Kraken Charters, Reel Cast Charters, Evan Kamoen, Sean Harrison, Jack Tibbens, Scott Schneider, Matt Stone