NORWALK, Conn. -- While striped bass and mature bluefish remain species targeted by most East Coast anglers, the sudden drop in temperatures offers fisherman the chance to expand their catch.
Juvenile bluefish, often referred to as snappers or cocktail blues, first appear toward the end of the summer and are currently entering their most active time of year. From early September through late October, these miniature fighters can be found schooling in the rivers and coves off of Norwalk.
Although rarely more than 10 inches in length, snappers fight with the ferocity of their mature counterparts and can provide quite the thrill on light tackle.
The joy of snapper fishing lies in its sheer simplicity. In order to get started, all you need is a light action rod and reel outfitted with a basic snapper rig. Sold at nearly every tackle shop, these pre-made rigs consist of a cylindrical bobber trailed by a tube and hook. If desired, this set up can be spiced up a bit and tipped with a small spearing or baitfish to catch the eye of hungry snappers.
This time of year, snappers can be found lining the shorelines of the Norwalk River and surrounding harbor. Once a spot is picked, simply cast down current and slowly retrieve the bobber. To mimic an injured bait fish, sometime a quick jerk of the rod is able to catch a snapper’s attention. Keeping the drag light helps ensure that the second a fish bites, the hook can be set.
For their size, snappers offer some of the best fight of any fish. When hooked, it’s not uncommon for snapper to launch themselves out of the water in an incredible acrobatic maneuver trying to shake the hook. Be sure to leave the medium action poles at home, however, and opt for the lightest rod possible. The smaller the rod, the more fun the fight.
Since bluefish often hunt in schools, where one bite others are sure to follow. Toss your catch in the cooler and cast back out there! Unlike mature bluefish, which many feel to be too oily, snappers are excellent table fare. With a limit of 10 per person, a few hours of snapper fishing can yield quite the fish fry.
The simplicity of snapper fishing is a great way to get young anglers on the water, and the constant action will bring a smile to even the most experienced offshore aficionado. Grab your rod, rig it right, and enjoy the timeless fall tradition of snapper fishing off Norwalk.
John Haffey Jr. is a Norwalk resident and Long Island Sound enthusiast and has navigated and fished Coastal Connecticut for years.
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