American Fly Fishing

Coastal Fishing Along the Whaling City
By Tom Migdalski

New London, CT Coastal Fishing Along the Whaling City

A dense school of small stripers crashes tiny peanut bunker (juvenile menhaden) off Waterford. Although bass stay up near the surface longer than bonito or false albacore, you must be prepared to search and then dash-and-cast with speed and precision, which makes for a very sporting outing. ALL PHOTOS BY TOM MIGDALSKI

For the last several years, massive schools of small striped bass have marauded the surface along southeast Connecticut’s New London County. The action starts in midsummer and can last into November, presenting an outstanding opportunity for fly anglers.

“One afternoon last August,” says expert tier and angler Vince Battista, “we watched schools of stripers corralling baitfish along a stretch of rocky beach in Waterford, where they staged at the top of the water column and fed for an entire tide. At times, the commotion was loud and close enough to drown out the idling outboard. These fish were juvenile bass, or ‘schoolies,’ of 14 to 24 inches, and at that size they’re eager to inhale a fly. I lost count of hookups.

“The trick to targeting these bass is mobility, because they’re up and down. You must be willing to switch presentations as the conditions change, and be on the lookout for bombing birds and surface explosions that are often near structure. These fish are present, on and off, for about a half year, and reduced bluefish numbers means schoolies don’t have much competition for food or flies.”