Photo/BoatingLocal It was before the early morning sun slowly slipped over the horizon and offered a bit of light that we cast out nets for the day’s trip.

The flood tide would bring in live baitfish needed to tempt our targeted pre-dawn stripers. Previous days always met our needs, so after countless casts and empty nets, such a poor showing miffed us. After all, this particular tidal river has always been prolific.

Without a sound, up pops a dark, round, big-eyed head with a full complement of whiskers. A second followed, then a third and fourth. The last one to surface held a flopping herring in its mouth. About 10 feet separated us. They seemed to be as curious as we were, yet cautious and obviously stressed. The thought of “who was invading whose turf” seemed to permeate the air. This was our first close-up and personal encounter with harbor seals within Long Island Sound. Needless to say, we found our explanation about the lack of bait.

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