SPRING STRIPERS ON THE HOUSATONIC RIVER
Early striped bass action abounds along this south-western Connecticut river.
By Captain Mike Roy
As March gives way to April, my excitement peaks as I can finally see the light at the end of the tunnel. Winter is finally coming to an end and spring is upon all of us in New England. By this time of year, many anglers have suffered through enough cabin fever to drive even the strongest among them crazy. Not to worry because this time of the year presents excellent opportunities to target striped bass in the Housatonic River in southwestern Connecticut. Beginning in early March, the hold-over striped bass population becomes more active and begins feeding along the river banks throughout the upper portions of the lower river system. It is generally kicked off by a run of fish in the low to mid 30-inch range along with lots of smaller school-sized fish. These fish exit their winter deep-water haunts and move into shallower water to feed, providing shore and boat anglers an opportunity to target them.
In addition to jigs, another top-producing lure is a hard plastic swimmers such as ta Yo-Zuri mag darters. As far as colors, I prefer to keep it simple and use white, black, yellow, pink, and chartreuse.Boat and kayak fishermen have the advantage of being able to easily cover more water in order to find fish. Electronics are used to locate fish in the deeper water as there are often large schools of bass hanging near the bottom in the main river channel. These fish can be targeted by drifting, anchoring or stemming the current if your boat is equipped with a trolling motor. Just remember to give the shore anglers their space as the bass move shallow.
WHAT TO THROW
TIDES AND RUN-OFF
High tide in Derby is approximately one hour and 20 minutes later than the high tide in Bridgeport. Note that during moon tides and after heavy rain, the water level will be higher, thereby washing debris into the river. Boat anglers should exercise extreme caution when navigating the river and may want to avoid it completely during times of extreme flooding. I have seen the river cluttered with giant trees and other large debris that can destroy your lower unit or take out the shore-bound angler. Heavy rain will also stain the water as silt is washed into the main flow. Stained water can still be productive and I have done well using pink or chartreuse lures during this time. However, if the water is extremely high or dirty, I would not bother fishing. It takes several days after a heavy rain storm for the water to clear up before becoming fishable once again.
Early spring fishing on the Housatonic River offers the opportunity for Connecticut anglers to catch a lot of small to medium sized striped bass with the occasional cow mixed in for good measure.