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WOODS ‘N’ WATER: Record-setting catches were no small fluke

It has been said that records are made to be broken.

Here in Connecticut, this has proven true, with a couple of state fishing records being broken so far this year.

The DEEP Marine Fisheries tells us that the summer flounder (fluke) record has been broken by a gentleman named Bill Proulx. His fluke tipped the scales at 15 pounds, 3 ounces. It was 32 5/8 inches long. This monster fluke beat out the previous fluke record of 14 pounds, 13.76 ounces set in 2019.

And another Connecticut fish record has fallen: the common carp. This one was 45 pounds, 1 ounce and was caught May 27 by Robert Jagiello in Lake Lillinonah.

This monster took away the previous common carp record of 43 pounds, 12 ounces set by Mike Hudak in 2012.

Some records are for “Catch & Release” fish. Benjamin Florian caught and released a 28½-inch bowfin out of Crow Point Cove, Wethersfield this year.

Now, I just know that the name “bowfin” might cause a few raised eyebrows, but it is a fish, and while more prevalent in the southern states, it is also found in some Connecticut waters.

It is generally not a fish that most anglers would fish for. It likes muddy and weedy water. My reference material says the bowfin is very powerful, and swift when it needs to be, but ordinarily is very sluggish. It is also called a dogfish, mudfish or grindle.

The bowfin is an ugly critter with a mouth loaded with teeth and its pasty flesh makes for poor eating.

The bowfin has been known to strike at bass plugs, spoons and will take various baits such as shiners, minnows, and crawfish.

For those who like action when a fish is hooked, the bowfin is known to provide that. Its strike can be vicious and it is known to make a series of jumps and leaps when hooked.

On the saltwater scene, black sea bass with a minimum length of 16 inches began on July 8 and runs to December 1.

Scup (porgy) regulations have also changed just a bit this year. The minimum length for boat fishermen is 10½ inches — an increase from last year’s 10-inch size limit — while shoreline fishermen now have a 9½-inch minimum size limit.

The season for scup is May 1 to December 31, with a 30-fish bag limit on both shore and boat fishing.

Fish consumption

Over the years, there have been many warnings about eating various fish because of the different chemicals they may have ingested.

For an old codger like your writer, this does not come as any surprise, when I think back on all of the polluting that I have seen here in Connecticut.

Rivers and streams that once carried clean water were turned into a means of getting rid of toxic waste and sewerage by emptying it directly into the waters. I used to fish for shad in the Connecticut River and saw homes on the river that emptied their sewerage directly into the river.

Over the years, a stop was put to this practice and, thankfully, the Connecticut River is much cleaner, but still has a way to go, as do many other water sources in the state.

Our own Quinnipiac River also suffered abuse from blatant disregard for the quality of the water, and many homes and businesses along its banks were responsible. You haven’t seen ugly until you personally witness this type of pollution. I have!

Many years ago, an organization known as the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association (QRWA) was formed with help from a young lady, Erin O’Hare. I was fortunate enough to be on the committee that became the QRWA and is now quartered on Dawson Beach, which is part of the Quinnipiac River. They are now the watchdogs of the Quinnipiac River.

So, it goes without saying that after all of this previous pollution, there is a Fish Consumption Advisory for most Connecticut waters. The Connecticut River’s is one meal per month, except shad. A couple sections of the Housatonic River are one meal per month on all species.

The Quinnipiac Gorge, south of Meriden, through Wallingford and on to Long Island Sound, is also one meal per month all species.

The DEEP says that the statewide advisory does not apply to sun fish or trout. There are no consumption advisory limits for these two species.

The bottom line is it’s such a shame that we humans are the one responsible for these damaged waters. It makes me wonder, is it too little, too late? I hope not.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firefighters and first responders wherever they may be serving this great country of ours.


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