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Stay near home with fish on your mind

A look at the news and current fishing regulations tells us two things: First, gas prices are going up and, second, bag limits for many saltwater fish are coming down.

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Given that state of affairs, it might be wise to consider more than one type of fish on your next day off.

Many of our coastal areas offer fair-to-good fishing closer to shore, cutting back on the gas bill at the end of the day and still providing some fish for the table if one were to go after more than one species. Examples of how to do this easily stretch from Maine to Connecticut.

For instance, boaters in southern Maine could fish for stripers in all the rocky washes around places such as Kennebunkport, then motor the short distance out to Tanta’s Ledge — a cod hot spot — to jig for cod.

In Massachusetts, I’ve been aboard boats that fished for stripers in the Annisquam River, chumming and baiting with chunks of herring, then fished on the rocky bottom four to five miles off Rockport. There we caught only small cod at times, but also larger keepers and sometimes wolfish up to 25 pounds. Every once in a while, a boat fishing in that spot, right in the middle of the summer, nabs a 40-pound cod. Last season, one of the local party boats from nearby Gloucester caught a 60-pound cod on a half-day trip.

If you're not an early riser, try fluke fishing in the late afternoon, then maybe trolling for stripers and blues as the sun goes down.

Down off the Cape, boats can easily work parachute jigs and wire in the rips off Monomoy, then head to Nantucket Sound for fluke, porgies and sea bass. Moving south, it often makes for an interesting day in a small boat to cast for stripers around the center wall of Point Judith Harbor as the sun rises. Then head west along the South Shore of that state, looking for keeper fluke or perhaps jumbo porgies or sea bass on some of the many rockpiles and wrecks within easy steaming of Point Judith. Hint: lots of the lobster pots in this area are set around lumps on the bottom, a good place to drift over with hi-hook bottom rig baited with squid strips or clams, looking for scup or sea bass after hopefully catching a couple keeper stripers with the casting tackle.

Long Island and Fishers Island sounds, from Stonington to Greenwich, Conn., with their confined geography offers lots of possibilities for multispecies fuel-savers. Many locals often look in or around harbors like Norwalk to West Haven, Conn., for bunkers to snag to live-line them on the spot for big blues or bass that move in close after the bait. If you caught a 25-pound bass in Milford Harbor, you will not be the first one to do so.

After, fish for blackfish (in season) around the New Haven walls or try well-known rockpiles in the Sound like 28C, anchoring and fishing either a fresh chunk cut out of the morning bunker for either blues or maybe a smaller bait on lighter rod for scup and sea bass.

If the weather turns sour, more than one enterprising angler scrubbed a day on open eastern Long Island Sound to run into the lee of Black Point to fish for porgies. They head out of the prevailing southwest winds, catching supper, the fast-biting porgies often great fun for any kids that might get a little bored waiting for bigger fish to yank on the line.

And, by having more than one fish in mind, you keep the day moving along if your first choice strikes out or offers only limited opportunities. During the heat of the summer, stripers often bite best early in the morning or again just before dark. Trolling at high noon may produce some blues, but maybe not the king bass.

If you and your friends are not early risers, you can often run the route in reverse. Leave the dock in the afternoon — maybe targeting fluke, porgies or sea bass — then switch to stripers as the sun goes down.

The list of dual-purpose trips can go on and on, easily added to by folks that take a minute to use their thinking apparatus. Be wise and catch more fish close to home.

This article originally appeared in the Home Waters Section of the August 2009 issue.