Hunting for stripers along the Stonington, Connecticut shoreline.

The Waters Of New England

The waters of New England make up one of the most dynamic marine environments in all of the United States. Each spring, thousands of striped bass and bluefish flood their way north in their annual migration to feed and spawn, bringing with them a reinvigorated significance to the New England Coast. They take up residence in rivers, coves, estuaries, rips, flats, beaches and nearly every type of environment you can imagine. When the forsythia finally blooms, anglers begin their summer routine of heading out into the now vibrant waters in search of these prized game fish. The once desolate docks and beaches are now buzzing with energy. 

Commercial fishermen are once again loading their boats with bait and equipment. Household garages begin to reek of smelly waders again, and the days are both long and full of opportunity. Soon the harbor inlets will be consumed with a never- ending surge of rushing white water left from dozens of waking boats as they throttle to the horizon. Blue crabs begin to scuttle between dock pilings and sand eels school over rock-less bars.

A Chatham Inlet, Massachusetts bluefish fell for a Skok’s mush mouth attached with a wire leader.
A local guide poles around a rocky reef at first light in Westport, Connecticut in June.

“Each spring, thousands of striped bass and bluefish flood their way north in their annual migration to feed and spawn, bringing with them a reinvigorated significance to the New England Coast.”

Boat ramps are engulfed in a frantic pandemonium of anglers trying to launch amidst the chaos. The stench of blood and fish guts emanate from cleaning stations and herring gulls soar above the turbulent rips, waiting for their next meal.

Bay boats drift quietly over inshore reefs with hooked eels snaking their way through the rocks and jetties are again the preferred late night drinking spot for obsessive anglers. Flats skiffs pole silently along the Bahamian-like sand bars in search of moving shadows.

Clam rakes fill the hands of dozens of shell fisherman as they trudge through the soft muck at low tide. Snapper blues invade the creeks and harbors with a fixation on destroying any lure or fly that swims through their path.

With the northern push of striped bass and warm weather, a migration of New England inhabitants follows. Suddenly the quaint beach towns of New England have a bustling economy of tourists and fisherman. These anglers, clammers, commercial captains and saltwater enthusiasts all rush to begin their habitual practices; of or by the sea.

DAKOTA RICHARDSON

The side flank of a Connecticut striped bass. Notice the blue on the lateral stripes.
Picking the right striper crab for the Brewster Flats on Cape Cod, Massachusetts.
A Cape Cod, Massachusetts bluefish caught in August.
Two anglers fish between the swells at the infamous Watch Hill Reefs.
Keeper sized striped bass taken on the north shore of Long Island, New York.
 A large striped bass caught in a sand eel feeding frenzy between humpback whales, laughing gulls, bluefish and stripers, off Nauset Beach, Maine on a July evening.
Gryphon Richardson waiting for the tide to turn at Scorton Creek, Cape Cod.
Captain Greg Wiesel of Monomoy Fishing Charters pins victory tuna tails to his harbor-side shack.
An albie (false albacore) taken on a small epoxy fly in August near the Watch Hill Reefs.

Contributed By

Dakota Richardson

I grew up in the backwoods of Connecticut and southern New England. My dad and grandpa were both avid outdoorsmen, who helped instill a passion within me for being outside and understanding how our natural ecosystems behaved. From an early age I would tag along with my dad to his favorite mountain trout stream and watched as he pulled trout after trout from his signature corner pool. I marveled at the beauty of these gorgeous little wild Brown Trout. Soon my brother and I were spending our weekends exploring the woods and mountains of Connecticut in search of rivers and brooks that may hold wild trout. I was also fortunate enough that my dad owned a 26 foot center console Dusky fishing boat that he took out into Long Island Sound whenever he could get away from work.

I began fishing with large plugs and poppers, but soon learned that fly fishing was an effective way to catch striped bass and bluefish. In high school, I attended a fishing school led by legendary surf angler Lou Tabory. It was here that I became engulfed in the lifestyle and science of fly fishing. I began studying baitfish, water temperatures, weather patterns, migration habits, water structure, and local marine habitats. There’s nothing quite like predicting when and where a cinder worm hatch will occur in your local waters and then finding an acre sized school of slurping striped bass. I also began tying flies, all of which seemed to reflect my observations of food chain dynamics within rivers and estuaries. I also worked as the Fly Fishing Club President at Berkshire School and helped organize events with the Housatonic Valley Association, where our “Stream Team” sampled damaged road culverts that prevented upstream travel for fish species.

My passion for fly fishing lead me into creating a saltwater guide service that specializes in sight fishing for striped bass throughout  New England. From an 18’ foot Egret flats skiff, I am running the waters from Cape Cod to Long Island Sound. Fishing became synonymous with exploring for me, and to this day, one of the most exciting facets of fly fishing is finding new water that is rarely fished or seen. Currently I attend NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts where I study writing, economics, and filmmaking, while I continue to try and make it as a fly fishing guide.

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