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CT Fishing Report

One thing I haven’t had to worry about so far this year is getting my 2018 fishing and hunting licenses, because between a bout with some sort of “bug” and a bum knee that’s acting up I’ve not been able to do much of anything other than occasionally take a ride on my back side from slipping on the ice and snow from recent storms and freezing temps. On top of todays “to do list” is going on line to get my 2018 licenses. During years past, we’d probably be considering a trip to the upper Thames River to play with some of the over wintering schoolie striped bass that used to literally fill the upper river during the cold months. Sadly the population has waned in recent years to the point that fishery is not worth the effort any more. If there is open water I may have already taken a ride to scout the coves and inlets along the Connecticut River to spend a few hours catching some panfish, perch, both yellow and white, sunfish, and (calico bass) black crappie that are far from “crappie” when dipped in milk, rolled in flour, bread crumbs or my favorite flavored crums by a company called “Introvignes” (seafood stuffing mix) and cooked to a golden brown in a pan or oven on a cookie sheet. Cooking method does not matter, all are light flavored, flakey tender white flesh. I can tell the species appart by their texture and flavor, but to most people its simply the best fish they have ever eaten, possibly because they have never had “flipping fresh” fish of any kind. My wife Karen was one of my first converts, so to speak. I’ve always been a fishing “finatic” since catching my first bluegill at the age of four. Having my grandfather reading stories from Field and Stream in leiu of nursery rhymes and childrens stories when I was there when my parents went out for an evening didn’t hurt either. To me they were adventure stories. When the action begins during the early spring I use a pair of ultra light rods, 1/4 to o1/8 ounce jig heads baited with a half a small worm, piece of night crawler or a soft plastic teaser of some sort. They shouldn’t be very large, perch and sunfish have small mouths and so the hook needs to protrude close to the end of the lure, what ever it might be. The action can be non stop, on a good day its possible in a short while to catch enough “panfish” for a couple of delicious meals. I do not ever, stock the freezer with a month or years worth of anything for two reasons, fish looses or has its flavor changed by being frozen for too long. The “too” can vary with how much fat or oil content a given species has in its flesh. More oily fish, to me spoil more quickly than those that are more dry, in a sense of having less fat content. The days are getting longer by a minute and eighteen seconds with every rotation of the earth, because this time of year the northern hemisphere is tilted towards the sun. After June 21, the longest day, the tilt is away so the daylight hours become fewer at I guess the same rate. If the temps rise enough to melt any snow and ice build up, and the temperatures remain above freezing after dark the first white perch spawning runs of perch will begin fairly soon. The yellows if my memory is right, in lakes and ponds drop their eggs under the ice or shortly after it melts. As some point, hopefully soon, the degree days begin adding up and water temperatures rise, turning on various species as their different preference levels are reached. If there is still some ice and the way conditions were shaping up at this writing and anglers may still be going out on frozen water with tip-ups (tilts) and light jigging rods, be safe and enjoy your time on the ice, but be sure its thick enough. Freezing cold waters sap ones strength quickly and can be a killer, specially during the winter and early spring when people are sometimes sadly “dying” to get out on the water. Early this year, a duck hunter lost his life when a boat tipped in strong winds and tides, three men went into the freezing cold water and sadly one lost his life. I am a fairly capable swimmer, my mom had me in the YMCA learning at a young age so I could go fishing at a small pond near our home without worrying too much. I was on the swimming team for four hears in high school, not very fast but swam the 400 freestyle and finished every race. Once we could drive a friend and I spent many hours in the waters around Groton and Mystic spearing blackfish during the summer months. I kept on spear fishing for many years until minor but potentially dangerous to a swimmer leg injuries and aging made it “stupid’ for me to continue spear fishing. Use common sense any time of year when on the water. It is wise to fish with another person or two incase some one does take an unwanted swim. When its freezing cold be aware that freezing fingers and limbs don’t work properly so be prepared for a potentially life threatening situation, especially this time of year when its freezing. I know first hand how debilitating and dangerous freezing cold water is. I’ve had frost bite on my baby toes from simply breaking through some ice into a couple of inches of freezing cold water, once with each foot a few winters appart during the dead of winter. I didn’t turn around either time, but stuidly kept doing what ever it was I was doing for way too many hours be

cause only my feet were wet and freezing cold. Rather than loosing life or limb the only cost was the skin on both of my “little toes”, and a fair amount of discomfort. A minor price to pay for what had been total stupidity on my behalf, especially the second time after that initial baptism in ice water. I fell through what was thick ice in a swamp that was eroded from below by a natural spring on the last day of the 2012 deer hunting season, New Years Eve morning, a very cold morning with a about a foot of fresh fluffy snow covering everything when I decided to do one last hunt because I was getting skunked that season and my family likes and uses venison which is a very lean, heathy to eat red meat. It was like standing on a trap door in a cartoon. One second I was walking on what I assumed was thick ice in that swamp, after walking a few hundred feet and boom, right through up to my knees. The three deer I had been tracking at the time, heard my cussing and a second or two later I heard a crack and saw three white flagging tails bounding over a ridge and off the private property I was hunting. Having learned the lesson, that time I headed back to the car right away and a couple minutes later walked up on the biggest buck I’ve ever tagged in 45 years of hunting deer. A classic case of the blind squirrel that found the nut or rather bungled into the nut. With striped bass numbers down and most desirable species in this state either not around, protected by closed seasons or in active, there’s not much to report. Fishing will “heat up” literally and figuratively with every increasing minute of day light which translates into incremental increases in water temperature.

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