Tuesday, October 22, 2013

CARPe diem

One of my buddies is a hardcore carp angler and recently invited me to join him for a day on the Connecticut River, a known big carp Mecca in New England. He and a couple friends stayed on private land for a week with sights set on hauling in serious amounts of fish. For the first part of their trip, weather was rather inconsistent and the carp bite suffered because of it. As the week wore on however, Mother Nature strung together a few days of stable conditions and action picked up the night before I showed up.

On a picture-perfect autumn day in Connecticut, I watched and learned from some of the best carp fishermen around. The bite grew hot at times, especially during slack low tide when we had four lines go off at once. Over the course of the day, I had an absolute ball hooking four common carp and landing three of them--all over the 10-pound mark. The cherry on top was witnessing a beautiful 33-pounder that was caught and released by Connecticut's current state record holder. And, as in many forms of angling, the downtime between fish was full of stories, laughs and swigs of beer and brandy.

Even though it had been nearly two years since I had last targeted carp, this trip reaffirmed my respect for the species, as well as my appreciation for the knowledge, time and money that goes into doing it right. I guarantee it won't be another two years before I do it again.

A trail like this always leads to something good. 
Carp fishing is made up of a good mix of preparation and relaxation with a sprinkle of utter chaos. 

Not your father's carp rig; these guys don't mess around. 
My first carp of the day was also my prettiest, with great coloration on its fins and tail. 
A phenomenal backdrop added to a good day of fishing. 

Mike hoisting up a common carp of 33.1-pounds.
The Cindy Crawford of carp?
Another look at the gorgeous fish before its release.
Ethan tallying the catch totals, which were closing in on 1,000-pounds at this point.
My third carp of the day, each one fought as hard as the next. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

All About The Bait

Below is a letter of mine that was published in today's Connecticut Post about strengthening protections of important forage fish like menhaden and river herring.

As a recreational angler who grew up on Long Island Sound, I appreciate and count on responsible management of our fish populations. So I tip my cap to Leah Schmalz of Save the Sound for her recent op-ed about reauthorizing the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act ("A federal opportunity to rebuild New England's fisheries," Sept. 28). The MSA's efforts to end overfishing and rebuild depleted fish populations are beginning to work, but much more needs to be done.

What really strikes a chord with me as an angler is the MSA's emphasis on protecting our forage fish, which are the little fish that big fish depend on for food. It doesn't take a marine biologist to correlate good fishing in Long Island Sound with a strong presence of important forage fish like menhaden and river herring. If things like overfishing, bycatch and habitat destruction keep depleting the ocean's forage fish, then the fishing here in the Sound for our game fish that rely on them for food -- including favorite quarry like striped bass, bluefish, weakfish and fluke -- will suffer greatly.

Rebuilding fish populations is a marathon, not a sprint. It may take years or even decades to undo the harm we have done, but that doesn't mean we shouldn't act now. I hope to someday see my children and grandchildren experience the tug of a big striped bass in Long Island Sound just like I've been fortunate to have had. That's why I urge Connecticut's U.S. senators and representatives to lead efforts to reauthorize and strengthen the Magnuson-Stevens Act.

Kierran Broatch
Milford, CT