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Long Island Sound Blues:
EARLY TO BED EARLY TO RISE�
By Rich Johnson
The sun rises in a pallet of pastel colors, gently covered by an early morning haze along the eastern horizon. The air calm with 5 a.m. temperatures already in the mid-70s, as I break the inlet looking for some early morning action on bluefish. As I clear the harbor and make my way into the Sound, the surface is flat, glassy smooth and the stillness of the entire event makes for a slow awakening day. It wasnt long though, maybe 15 minutes, before the alarm went off, as the first working birds over a school of baitfish appeared. Upon further investigation this action revealed working blues from 3 to 9 pounds harassing small bait. I set up shop and immediately cast small Sekora diamond jigs and tube baits with light baitcasting outfits to a flurry of bluefish blitzing the school. Action started off with a flurry as I hooked up with blues on almost every cast, working the edges of this blitzing ball of blues.
COOL IS COMFORTABLE. When it comes to hot weather fishing, the coolest part of the day is actually evening and very early morning. The soaring summer temperatures make fishing during the day uncomfortable for even the most hard core anglers, myself included and fishing these early hours translates into comfortable fishing with good action. If youre lucky and work from or close to home, you can take advantage of this situation and fish short, early morning trips before heading off to work.
Long Island Sound is perfect for these trips, because many of the local harbors that feed into the Sound can & will have, big blues right up in the back of these harbors, thus eliminating the full trip into the sound. For those on the South Shore, you may have to head to and outside the inlets for this action.
TACKLE. I love the light action feel of chopper blues peeling off line at a frenzied rate. If youre into conventional tackle, the Abu-Garcia conventional reels are perfect for casting small jigs and plastic baits to surface breaking blues or jigging them off the bottom. I use the Ambassaduer 5600 or 6500 Ultra Cast reels spooled with 12 or 15-pound Berkley Big Game line. For spinning enthusiasts, you can have a world of fun with your preference as well, allowing you the mobility and accuracy youre used too.
In either case, I do not use a wire leader! I prefer a 12 to 18-inch length of 50 to 80-pound mono as my leader, connected to the running line using an Albright knot or barrel swivel, always tied directly to the jig or jig head with plastic bait. The Fenwick Inshore series of rod, with recommended lure weights of 3/8-ounce to 1-1/2 lures work tremendously well for this type of sight casting to blues. They are strong enough to handle blues in excess of 10 pounds as well and come in models for spinning gear too.
KEY AREAS. The best scenario for early morning bluefish action is of course some visual opportunity (working birds & fish). The telltale sign of working birds thats easy. If this visual I.D. is not available, concentrate on small skips of baitfish fleeing an area or the rolling water of a school of bunker. Use all your senses. If you notice an area of smooth surface among the rippled water in a breeze, thats a sure sign a school of baitfish is in the area. You may also spot a particularly oil spot on the waters surface on a calm day. Thats also a sign of baitfish in the area and more than likely blues will be under them. You may also smell when bait is present. A school of bunker can smell like a ripe melon!
For LI Sound fishermen, City Island, Rye, Mamaroneck and the Huntington & Cold Spring harbors offer great early morning action as does Cos Cob and any of the other Connecticut harbors that horde bunker schools seeking escape from marauding blues.
BEFORE WORK. Leaving the dock between 4 & 5 a.m., these short excursions can put anglers into some great fishing in the cool of early morn before the workday even begins. This brightens any workday, no matter how glib some of them may seem. Any fish caught after a hard days work on an evening trip can sure make the day that just passed seem less draining as well! Get out and give it a go, some hot action in the cool of the day. See you on the water!