Since getting back on the water just shy of a month ago, I’d limited myself to “easy” fresh water trips. Despite a couple relatively unproductive trips, I caught enough bass keep me happy. But as my legs and my stamina improved, it got to be time to give the salt a shot.
On Monday morning, I launched on the lower Housy. Had a nice boat ride, but the fishing — in the river mouth and in the nearby waters of the Long Island Sound — left a lot to be desired. Tons of bunker in the river, but nothing molesting them.
in contrast, the only sign of life I could locate outside of the river mouth were some schools of tiny, tiny silversides. They appeared to have no more reason to be nervous than the bunker in the river. Nothing molesting them at all. Even the gulls and terns didn’t care, as they all seemed to be happy to lounge around on the beaches and rock piles.
I was home by noon, making plans to fish the next day. The big decision — fresh water, or my usual summer salt water stomping grounds, farther east in the sound. In the end, I knew I had to get the salty skunk taste out of my mouth.
A few minutes past 6Am on Tuesday, I was pulling into the parking lot at the Four Mile River boat launch. Looked at the current in the Four Mile, and it was just barely flowing out. The water level said it was close to low. The tide chart disagreed. It was barely an hour into the outgoing. But the high tide had only been a bit more than 2 feet above the mean low tide mark, and the low around 11AM would be 3/4 of a foot above mean low. The total tidal change on this outgoing would be a foot and a half. To a guy used to dealing with the 6 foot plus tides of the Housatonic, a foot and a half tidal drop in 5-1/2 hours feels like the drain is clogged up and the water is barely seeping out of the tub.
The lack of a meaningful tidal fluctuation didn’t give me a lot of confidence, but once I was out in the open water, the number of surface blitzes taking place within eyesight seemed encouraging. Turned out those blitzes were mostly snapper blues eating tiny silversides. A few of them looked different though. That different look to the surface disturbance turned out to be an indicator of a pod of larger fish within (or on the edge of) the major melee of the feeding snappers. Those with the look contained a pod of schoolie stripers feeding on the snappers that were hammering the sliversides. Eating is what snappers do for a living, and apparently, being under attack by bigger fish is not enough to deter them.
Despite all the commotion and excitement, I still only managed to hook (and lose) one fish in a whole lot of casts to those topwater blitzes. That lost fish was one of only two that I hooked on a topwater plug. In this case, a Storm Arashi Top Walker.
The frustration of chasing mobile and short-lived surface blitzes, most of which turned out to be only snapper blues, sent me off looking for other options before too long. Casting unweighted soft plastics to rocks and rocky points turned out to be the hot ticket for the day. I did have one Slug-Go bitten in half by a bluefish, and I caught a couple blues when I threw a soft plastic rigged on a jighead to try a little deeper, but other than that, I never caught a blue on the unweighted bait, and never caught a striper on the jighead rigged bait. In fact, it seemed like if I didn’t keep my soft lure on or within about 5 or 6 inches of the surface, I wasn’t going to get bit., at least by a striper.
I never caught a keeper, although the fish I lost on the Top Walker while still chasing blitzes felt like a pretty good one and might have been in that range. Then again, it may have been a blue. But other than that, it was all schoolies, all the time for me. Biggest fish of the day might’ve been 24 inches. Or might not have. I wasn’t measuring anything, just getting my lure back in the water to get bit again. That’s okay though. My first real saltwater outing of the summer turned out pretty good, with about 60 schoolies boated, and lots of topwater action. There’s still plenty of season left to catch some big ones!