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Connecticut - Housatonic River 02/06

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My buddy Jason and I managed to get out on the lower, tidal portion of the Housatonic River, today. The weather forecast for Shelton, Connecticut, didn't look too bad. Although it called for sub-freezing temperatures before noon, it also called for zero wind:


However, it was snowing lightly when I hooked up my boat to my Jeep:



We had planned to get a late start, because I had to stop at Shelton City Hall to get a 2018 permit for the Sunnyside Boat Launch Facility and the Clerk's office doesn't open until 8:00 am. We got a later start because Jason had to drop off his daughter at daycare, first. Then, we got an even later start, because I couldn't find the registration for the Jeep and had to download and print out a copy of it from the Connecticut DMV, which gouged me $20 for the privilege of printing out a duplicate copy! We ended up fishing from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm.


There were quite a few shore fishermen at Sunnyside when we finally got there. I spoke with one who was defrosting his reels in his car next to the ramp. They were catching schoolies, but I heard a few reports of keepers caught at various times over the recent few days. We got on the water in time for the last of the outgoing tide:



There was a little bit of ice on the ramp and along the shore, the kind that breaks like glass when you step on it. The water wasn't too dirty and there wasn't too much ice floating around; the few sheets we hit were small and thin. We headed upriver toward the cove at Twomile Island and marked scattered schools of fish swimming mostly parallel to the shore. Although there were a couple of trailers parked at the launch, there were no other boats within sight of the ramp.


When we got out of the range of any shore fishermen, I dropped the Ultrex into the water and we began fishing. I tried a few different jigs, which tells you that we struggled to figure out what the fish wanted. I figured that they probably wanted small, white, split-tail flukes, but didn't have any rigged, so I struggled along with what I already had tied on; after all, it was still below freezing! I threw a big white Hogy paddletail on a 3/4 ounce jighead, a seven inch White Ice Lunker City Fin-S Fish on a 3/4 ounce jighead and a five inch Baby Blue Shad Fin-S Fish on a 1/2 ounce jighead, Jason threw a five inch white paddletail, a Reaction Innovations Skinny Dipper, I think. We found that a slower retrieve with a pause after a light jerk was attracting some short strikes and Jason boated the first fish after 20 minutes:


Phew! I'm always a little relieved when we kick the skunk off of the boat.


I finally bit the bullet and tied on a Sexy Shad Skinny Dipper that was already rigged on a 3/4 ounce jighead, and caught my first Connecticut fish of 2018:


Whoo hoo!


Although the Skinny Dipper was getting bites, they were few and far between. We found that even moderately hard twitches of the jig would result in snagging a fish, so we tried to keep it slow and gentle, and crushed the barbs down on our hooks.


After catching another little schoolie, we decided to head upriver. As we passed Twomile Island, we finally spotted several boats on the water upriver. I usually prefer to fish away from other boats, so we Spot Locked the Ultrex just upriver from the culvert across from the top of Twomile Island.


Although we were marking fish, the bites were really few and far between. We caught some more small schoolies, including this 23 incher:



Jason (aka Snag Boy) also snagged up a couple of keepers, including this 34 incher:


Nice fish, but it still doesn't count, Snag Boy!


After a long time, too long, really, I finally broke down and rigged a four inch, white, split-tail fluke on a 3/8 ounce jighead, and began catching more schoolies. I even managed to boat a fish on three casts in a row! The fish wanted an excruciatingly slow retrieve with the gentlest of occasional twitches followed by a pregnant pause. They'd pick up the jig on the bottom of the post-twitch fall.


Now, when Jason and I are talking while fishing, we often (okay, always) end up talking about food, and we both began thinking about linner shortly after noon. Plus, he started to feel the cold after about 12:30 pm, and I started to shiver a little bit after 1:30 pm, so at 1:50 pm, after stopping to say, “Hi!”, to a few other fishermen in a couple of nearby boats, we headed back to the ramp in search of a hot meal.


When we got to the ramp, there was a small crowd of shore fishermen there, chatting with a couple of Connecticut State Environmental Conservation Police officers. I was happy to see some enforcement going on, but why they'd be there on a freezing Tuesday, instead of on a warm weekend day, totally escapes me. It also would have been nice if they had checked our licenses; they didn’t bother asking us even a single question. I DO hope to see them more often this year than I did in 2017.


Although we didn't catch many and our lunker was only 23 inches, we really enjoyed a super relaxed day on the water. I'm heading out of town, again, and hope that the weather improves a bit by the time I get back home, next week.

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Wow I really enjoyed this detailed report, thanks for sharing.


I have a question about the Housatonic.  Could you suggest any shore access points?  I'm a kayaker but would love to do a little shore fishing when the weather is colder.  


I wholeheartedly agree about the lack of DNR in CT.  I remember about 20 years ago there was talks of closing the state parks around my area due to budget cuts, although it never happened I don't believe the budgets for park rangers or DNR ever recovered.  Nothing upsets me more than seeing size and number limits being ignored by people who probably aren't licensed to fish.  I've gone striper fishing in Norwalk and seen atrocities regarding this.  Shame, I thank the gentleman who checks licenses at our reservoir for keeping it clean and fair for all.  Always the ones who follow the law are happy to see them enforced.


Hope to see some more reports from you.

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On 3/30/2018 at 8:28 PM, Maverick said:

I have a question about the Housatonic.  Could you suggest any shore access points?  I'm a kayaker but would love to do a little shore fishing when the weather is colder.  

There’s a sizable stretch of shoreline at the Sunnyside Boat Launch Facility in Shelton that’s well used by shore fishermen.


A little further downriver, there’s Southbank Park, which is across the river from Wooster Island, and even further downriver, there’s Pine Rock Park, which is next to Sikorsky.


Upriver, there’s O’Sullivan’s Island in Derby and, at night, you could fish from the rocks around the Derby Dam.

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