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Pet Striped Bass?


Tomorrow we will find our way on Long Island Sound again to head to Essex, Connecticut, for a Salty Dawg rendezvous. We have to go up the Connecticut River, which, we are told, can have a four-knot current slowing us down. We have been nestled again in the Mystic River to use family vehicles to do our provisioning for the long haul to Maine in the Salty Dawg Rally next week.

To make the trek easier and shorter, we decided to leave the haven of the Mystic Seaport and the repair and refurbishing of historical three-masted tall ships, a sample shown here. Instead, in the hot afternoon, we motored over to Avery Point in Groton, in between Mystic and Noank and New London, CT. We had been trying to get to one of the three mooring balls that they offer, and today we were lucky they were not occupied. We are now rolling with the waves, but Avery Point is a lovely natural place on one side and heavily boat–populated marinas on the other side.

We decided to explore using our dinghy, and what we found, other than a collection of lovely beige sand on nearby Plum Island, was a school of pet striped bass at the Shennecossett Yacht Club dinghy dock. Yes, I mean “pet” bass. These fish are free to come and go as they please. I counted 17 of them. SYC folks have been feeding these huge fish, a favorite game fish of the hundreds of fishermen in huge and small boats just off the nearby horizon, for many years now (probably for generations). The bass are so large (the smallest was about 30 inches and the largest was over 45 inches long and plump!) that they may be beyond the fishing slot size. Anyway, there is no fishing allowed on the piers, and YC people chase off anyone who tries to catch one from a boat. Folks left us with a bag of hot dogs and told us that the bass prefer them to any breads or crackers. So, I fed hot dog bits to wild "pet" fish in the wild. Amazing experience. The videos we took are great. Once when I tried to hold a long hot dog just above the water, the largest of the bunch jumped up and snatched the whole thing. These are spoiled wild fish!!!

This was such fun! Allen’s mouth was open for a while before he could believe his eyes. Here was a school of huge hungry bass (called "rockfish" in the Chesapeake Bay, but not here), but these are not for the taking. AH!! The wonders of nature and the wonders of people who befriended these lovely creatures. What a treat we had! An unexpected visit to Avery Point in Groton.

University of Connecticut Campus at Avery Point, where granddaughter Maggy went to high school on a special program in marine science.

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