In the Field

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Some great hunting weather we’ve been having, heh? Howling winds, a nice mix of precipitation, cold—you couldn’t ask for much more if you are a waterfowl hunter. The guys with pits must have ground ’em up all weekend.

Alas, with a west-wind oriented blind in an area that is pretty much reliant on the local ponds freezing over to move the ducks around, I didn’t spend a single second in the blind. Once upon a time, before I had a “real” job, I would’ve been out Thursday night hauling our blind across the bay to an east wind spot.

But that wasn’t in the cards, so I was left to while away the beautiful weekend in my basement, which was just fine with me. As I finally unpacked the canvas totes and storage boxes full of tackle and gear from the back of my truck I reflected on the past season. I always like to take a tally of seasons past and log them, in total, as having been a bad season, pretty good season, great season or amazing season. The bulk of my assessment is based on the striped bass run, specifically the fall surf fishing season, but the bite in the canyons, the spring weakfishing and the fluke bite also add to the calculation.

The fall surf run was only pretty good. The bass blitzes in Montauk fired up with a full week left in August and were reliable at least four or five days a week through to the end of October. But except for a few fish, taken mostly at night, there wasn’t any showing of fish bigger than schoolies on the beach. Storms cut the blitzes on peanut bunker short in early November and the lack of a herring push in the surf detracts substantially from the overall consideration of the 
season. The sand beaches around Shinnecock and Moriches had just a scattered few days of good fishing.

The bass fishing for boats off Montauk was outstanding all summer and more fish in the 30- and 40-pound range were taken than have been in decades (hopefully this is a sign of things to come). Moriches had a decent bass bite in the late spring and early summer. Shinnecock had typically crummy bass fishing pretty much all year.

Despite size limits that many thought would be oppressive, the fluke season has to be considered at least very good and August was simply outstanding. Big fish, lots of limits and widespread fish made the fluking fantastic.

The offshore bite was certainly one of the worst in recent years. Save for literally a couple of days of hot fishing, which only a very few boats got in on because of the price of fuel, the tuna bite was nearly non-existent. There were fair numbers of white and blue marlin around in August and some bigeyes here and there, but essentially no yellowfin and albacore to fill in the gaps between the special knockdowns.

The weakfish bite in the spring wasn’t very good, but there were at least 
some shots of fish and a couple jumbos taken in the Peconics. No run through the Shinnecock Canal is a big black mark.

Mix in consideration of the great blackfish bite off the North Fork and Fisher’s Island and I would say, over all, the season was only pretty good. Certainly, there is a room for improvement next year, which is what will sustain us through this cold winter, right?

Have a Merry Christmas and a Happy Hanukkah everyone. See you out there.

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