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It’s fun and intriguing to imagine how the Bloody Grounds earned its crimson name.
By Capt. Tom Migdalski

Visions of a pirate beheading, collision at sea or fish slaughter come to mind. “Unfortunately,” said Capt. Q Kresser, manager at River’s End Tackle in Old Saybrook, CT, “I have no idea how it got its colorful name. But what I do know is it’s one of the damn best sea bass spots in eastern Long Island Sound!”

Located about 3 miles south of Millstone Point in Waterford, the Bloody Grounds is deep enough to avoid need for a navigational aid, which makes it challenging to find for novice anglers. And the 4-mile run from the Niantic River launch into “open ocean” keeps the less-seaworthy boats closer to shore. So although you may find a small fleet here on weekends, it doesn’t get as crowded as is otherwise possible.

The Bloody Grounds is a patch of gnarled, rocky terrain rising up from 100-plus feet on either side to a high of about 60 feet. This structure creates a small rip line during calm days and a significant patch of rough water on breezy days with an opposing tide. Anchoring here is difficult, if not foolish, during any but the slowest of current periods. And because it’s located in an area notorious for strong currents, a moon tide opposing a stiff wind makes this a dangerous passage for small craft.

Blackfish anglers hoping to get away from the shore crowd sometimes anchor here during the fall run. Those experts know to do so within an hour of either side of dead tide, and fish it right through the slack. Your best bet is to slowly motor over the boulder field a few times to find a high spot, and then, taking current and wind direction into account, try to anchor on that high point. Using a typical high-low rig with halved greenies for tog is a standard go-to method here, but forget the chumming trick because the deep water, which is almost always moving, prevents chum from sinking vertically, and it won’t end up under your boat where you want it.

Those who target jumbo porgies should try this place. But the reef is also loaded with small porgies, which means you need to wade through the shorts to obtain the dinner platters. Favor heavy-duty porgy hooks, not the cheap gold ones, the latter of which tend to snap in the structure or when unhooking big fish. Sandworms won’t hold up well here due to the conditions and swarms of smaller fish, so bring larger baitholder hooks and squid for both porgies and sea bass.

The Bloody Grounds is also a sea bass haven, but like any other piece of real estate, it does get picked over for humpies, and only the shorts and “just legal” fish remain by mid to late season. Sea bassing is best accomplished here by motoring up-tide of the crest to where the bottom drops to about 80 feet. Spool your rig to the bottom, and let a slow current drift you up and over the hump, carefully tending the structure to stay within the sweet spot, but also being wary of dragging bottom, as hang-ups are common.

Plan your sea bass trips around slow tide periods, and you can get away with 8-ounce sinkers. But once the tide cranks up, especially with the slightest opposing breeze, be prepared to trade up to 12 to even 16 ounces to tend bottom well.
The Bloody Grounds may not be the origin of Hollywood horror movies, but it’s also not for the faint of heart. Be sure your boat and gear are up to the task, and always check the tides and winds before heading out for some great bottom fish action in these crimson waters.

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