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The first thing the astute observer notices about Two Tree Island is there are no trees on it. “According to old timers,” said Mat Hillyer, owner of Hillyer’s Tackle Shop in Waterford, CT, “there were two trees on it at one time, but the hurricane of 1938 wiped them out.” Nonetheless, its wooded name persists.

By Capt. Tom Migdalski
Image courtesy of Navionics.

Two Tree Island is a mound of gravel, rocks and boulders a short distance south of Jordon Cove in Waterford. The tear-drop-shaped island is a couple hundred yards long, depending on when you’re measuring it because it slopes so gradually into the water. “Two Tree has seen its share of boat strikes,” said Hillyer. “For about five or six years it seemed like we had one or two a year, often from guys watching the fireworks in New London who had had a few beers—they’d round the north can of Bartlett Reef, think they were home free to Niantic, and BAM!”

Two Tree (spelled “Twotree” on NOAA charts), however, is known for more than its unique name and hazard to careless skippers—it also boasts the new state record blackfish taken on a nearby rock cluster on October 14, 2015. That prize measured 33 inches and 26.6 pounds. The reason Two Tree Island is such a tog hotspot, according to Hillyer, is that it’s entirely rimmed by structure. “The surrounding waters are loaded with boulders and shelves,” he said, “and that creates perfect blackfish habitat. You just need to watch out for the lobster gear off the south end.”

Two Tree Channel (labeled “Twotree Island Channel” on NOAA charts) is an unusually deep passage for being so close to shore. Located between Two Tree Island and Pleasure Beach in Waterford, the depths of over 80 feet provide ideal fluke drifts during moderate tide conditions. Here, according to Hillyer, you should work the edges of the drop-offs. Challenging fishing conditions occur during the strength of the tide, so it’s important to time your trips around slow current periods.

The deeper waters surrounding Two Tree Island, especially those stretching from Millstone Point to Pleasure Beach and Seaside and continuing along Two Tree Channel to Goshen Point, is also known as “albacore alley.” This swath of water, slightly warmed by the Millstone Nuclear Power Plant’s warm-water outflow, funnels forage like peanut bunker, bay anchovies, silversides and small squid through the corridor, making it a false albacore draw each year. A sport angler does well to search here in the morning for working terns and those tell-tale, slashing, mini blitzes. The run-and-gun approach casting tins like Deadly Dicks or soft plastics like the Zoom Super Fluke produce in these waters, which are conveniently sheltered from autumn’s brisk northwest breezes.

Two Tree Island is a good place to work surface plugs for big bass and slammer blues stalking the boulder fields during low-light conditions. Be wary of submerged structure south of the Can 3, however, because what makes it so good for crushing predators makes it equally good for crushing propellers. Two Tree Island is also close enough to shore and the Jordon Cove launch to be safely worked by experienced kayakers or SUP paddlers, who are able to access the bony terrain that power boaters can only gaze at from a distance.

If you find no blues or bass lurking in the island’s waters, motor a short distance across the channel east to Seaside where there’s excellent structure to cast plugs at first and last light. And the wise angler should always swing from the island to the nearby power plant’s outflow to cast with small plugs, tins or flies because harbor blues and albies frequently stage there all autumn.

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