Jul 13, 2011

3 States and only 1 Keeper

I had the chance to take my daughter out to do some saltwater fishing for striped bass and fluke for the first time on a  friends boat this past weekend and we had a blast sharing the passion.  Capt. Scott and Dylan aka "Junior" met up with my Daughter Kaleigh and I at 3:30am at a local convenience store to gas up the boat and to get some starter fluid for the rest of us and then it was off to shore.

It is just over an hour drive to the boat launch in New London, CT so we have plenty of time to get all excited and to see some wildlife along the way.  They saw 3 deer, a fox and a skunk and I only saw the one deer.  Every time they saw something I was looking the other way and at one point Capt. Scott said "Don't know how you missed that one, it was looking right in your window".  So obviously I was the brunt of all jokes to start out the day.  No problem, I was planning on letting my fishing skills make up for it!

Sunrise over Fishers Island NY

We were on the water and headed out of the launch at 4:45am and off to see if we could scare up a few linesiders or some blues.  The ride out was flat calm and we were at Race Rock Lighthouse in Long Island Sound just as the sun was coming up making for a wonderful sight.  We were greeted with 4 other boats like us trying to get in some early fishing before the fleet arrives but we found very little tide and no fish to speak of.  There were a few birds working, but not aggressive and once or twice we'd see a fish under them.  We decided not to pull wire and went with the spin casters instead and not even a sniff.  That was ok, because none of the other boats were having any luck either.  We gave it 30-40 minutes and decided to head out around to the South side of Fishers Island and setup for some fluke fishing.

Captain Scott fishing as the sun rises over Fishers Island

Junior enjoying the Sunrise

A Lone fly fisherman working the waters around Race Rock Lighthouse

We got positioned for the first drift and I was showing Kaleigh how to work the reel and teach her to keep the rig on the bottom and withing 5 minutes she was hooked up with the first fluke of the morning.  She wasn't overly excited, well actually she didn't look excited at all but that was probably because she is not a morning person and seeing it was still a couple hours earlier than her normal wake up I couldn't blame her.   Kaleigh was back in the water and had another fish on just minutes after the first.  I could start to see a little smirk growing.  Both fish were short and had to go back.  We continued on the same drift and finally Junior hooked up and of course Kaleigh hooked up again.  This time the smirk on her face was bigger and she just nodded my way and gave me a blink of the eye and then she started in on Junior about helping him catch some fish.  She didn't even ease into it, she hit him with both barrels right off the bat.  Her only goal on this trip was to out fish Junior and she was definitely on her way.  At one point it was Kaleigh with 3 and the rest of us with 1, but still no keepers.

Kaleigh with one of many Fluke she caught this day
Another short fluke headed back to the water

Kay with a black sea bass

We continued working different drifts trying to find some keeper fluke but it just wasn't happening.  Seeing we were in NY waters the legal minimum length for a fluke was 20.5 inches and we threw back some 19.5 and even a 20 inch fish.  We also landed some porgies and small black seas bass and they were also released to grow up.  The only constant was Kaleigh was hammering the fish every drift while the 3 of us worked like dogs to land a few fish.  

We decided to pick up and move over to Rhode Island waters just off Misquamicut Beach and as we were motoring east we noticed a fin in the water and it turned out to be a Mola Mola (Ocean Sunfish) and we tried to circle in closer for a better look and some pictures but he was shy and down he went.  Very cool sight to see as it was a first for all of us.

Rhode Island Shore line

We setup the for the first drift at our new location and Junior was on the bottom and hooked up before we could even reach the bottom.  Talk about lucky.  Well this drift it looked like, Scott Junior and I were going to catch up to K has she seemed to be in a little slump.  I think she was just a little out of whack from the bumpy ride over to the new grounds.  Our plan seemed to be working though as we hooked up a couple times each without Kaleigh catching anything.  We needed an advantage to try and make up the ground on the numbers but it didn't last long before Kaleigh was back at it and yanking up fish off the bottom one after the other again.

We landed some nice sized black sea bass but the season in Rhode Island didn't open until the next day so back in the drink they went.  The porgies were getting bigger as well but I wasn't in the mood to spend the afternoon filleting a bunch of fish for a little snack so back they went as well.  At one point all four us were hooked up and landing fish, but all the fluke were short and I mean real short 12 to 15 inches were coming over the rail often.  Rhode Island's minimum length on fluke is 18.5 inches the same as Connecticut so we thought for sure we could get some keepers here but it just wasn't happening.

Me holding One of Kay's black Sea Bass - She took this photo

Editorial rant - feel free to ignore this paragraph:  One of the most STUPID things about the fishing regulations in the Long Island sound is that each state as different size limits, seasons and creel limits and you have to follow the rules of the waters you are fishing, but you also need to make sure that those fish kept also meet the rules of any waters you will be motoring through including your home port.  So keeping a legal fish in Rhode Island at say 19inches will get you in trouble when in NY waters or keeping more than te 3 fish that Connecticut allows when back in port, even though RI allows you 7 fish will most certainly get you a ticket.  No walls, nets or boundaries to stop the fish from moving through the different state's waters.  All the same dang fish so why don't the adjoining states get on the same damn page and make it easy for us fisherman to understand and do the right thing.  You almost need a lawyer on retainer when out fishing the LIS.  It is a freaking JOKE!  Ok, editorial rant off.

Capt Scott with the day's only keeper at 20.5 inches

Well we continued to just hammer fish every drift over in Rhode Island and all were short until finally Capt Scott sets the hook on a fish that would prove to be our only keeper and sure enough it was and measured just over 20.5 inches keeping us legal everywhere.  The ride back to the dock was a little bouncy as the wind kicked up and the boat traffic was high, especially with New London Sailfest going on.   There was plenty of folks out enjoying one of the best days we will see all summer as the beaches we rode by were packed, with plenty of boats out fishing, sailing or just cruising.

My daughter couldn't stop taking about her first saltwater fishing trip and hasn't given Junior a rest in reminding he that she whooped him up.  I'm sure Junior is planning a rematch and I know Kaleigh will be more than happy to give him one.

Junior and Capt Scott hooked up - guess what it was?

Capt. Scott enjoying the ride back to the dock

Kay and I  - wait who is driving the boat?

One of the things I like about living in Connecticut is the close proximity to the ocean which opens a whole new door to outdoors while offering up lots of great opportunities to share the passion.


  1. Sounds like a real bonding experience! Awesome photos... I agree with you about the regulations (the government guys have to have their say in everything)! But I also agree with Kaleigh that 4AM is much too early to be out and about! Not a morning person...

    There is nothing so beautiful as a good SUNRISE, but I'm more likely to wake up, watch the sun come up and then go back to bed!

    Good Day.

  2. I really enjoyed that and what a wonderful experience with your daughter. The photos also are top notch...thanks.

  3. I find it hard to believe that we can put a man on the moon, but we can not agree on a uniform set of fishing regs for LIS. I hope our porgy fishing gets good soon as they have not really made it down here thick. Nice trip, looks like you all hammered a bunch of fish.

  4. Thanks for the comments all. There is something special about watching the sunrise while on the water even if you prefer to watch it from your bed.