Striped Bass Season Extension In The Works

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Die-hard striped bass hunters and some charter boat captains will be happy to hear that a bill is wending its way through the State Legislature that would extend the striped bass season by two weeks, pushing the end of the recreational season back to December 31 instead of the traditional closing date of December 15.
The Senate has approved the bill, and it is now waiting for approval by the Assembly and Governor Andrew Cuomo’s signature.

If it is approved, the bill will give anglers a bit longer season. The last couple years, East End anglers wouldn’t have paid this rule much mind, since the bass were long gone by the closure anyway. But with a warming climate in general, anglers will reap the benefits of this change from time to time. Those in the western reaches and the New York Bight will probably see a bit more opportunity to take advantage of the extra two weeks of fishing.

It was just two winters ago when anglers in central New Jersey (where bass season is open year-round) enjoyed wonderful fishing for stripers in the surf straight through January and February, thanks to the warmest winter on record and a big body of sand eels that just happened to be inhabiting their littoral zone that year.

From a practical standpoint, for that matter, making our striped bass season year-round too wouldn’t seem to be much of a big deal. Regardless of temperatures, by December the vast majority of the angling population has hung up its waders and dry-docked the boats. But in those random years when conditions conspire to keep stripers in our region into the winter, having the option to patrol the beaches or hit the rips would be a welcome opportunity for many anglers, and a incremental economic boost.

Occasional catches of bass, certainly few and far between even in the best of years, wouldn’t put much of wrinkle in fisheries management calculations. We are probably looking at a significant reduction of striped bass harvest allowances for the height of the season in the coming years, so why not give anglers as much opportunity as possible to put an extra fish or two on the dinner table?

Speaking of striped bass fishing, if you consider yourself a sharpie, it’s time to sign up for this year’s Ducks Unlimited Striped Bass Tournament at Star Island Yacht Club.

The tournament will take place on Saturday, July 13 (rain date: July 14), with weigh-in, trophy presentations and dinner at Star Island that evening. Entry fee is $250 per boat, not per angler, so putting a crew of four or five guys together cuts the cost substantially.

This is a fun tournament that is regularly attended by some of the best bass fishermen on the South Fork (casual, not professionals). Competition is fierce, and quality fish in the 30- and 40-pound weight class are always jockeying for position at the top of the money list. With the date pushed back by three weeks this year, there are certain to be some cows in residence off Montauk that will give just about anyone with a wire line outfit or a bucket of eels a good shot at the leader board and the calcutta pool.

Call Jo Rae Brennan at 537-7611 for more information and to sign up your crew.

Fishing was good this week, though high winds and rain kept many anglers off the water on some days. Fluke fishing continued to be the best in the bays, partly because the stormy weather has made it hard to fish the ocean, and also because a lot of fish have found their way into the bays already.

The best fishing continued to be up in Shelter Island Sound, though the fish have thinned out some and a lot of the keepers have been culled out of a population that is waning rather than building at this point. Shinnecock Bay and Moriches Bay have seen some good fish come up from the sandy flats, though the sustained west winds and moon tides have meant that at low tide there’s almost no water on the flats at all.

Big porgies continued to be a prime target for boats in the Peconics, and the monster fleet over the weekend has to be putting a hurting on this large population of spawning fish. Hopefully, it’s not something that will hurt us down the road, because having those fish there at this time of year is a welcome accompaniment while the bass and fluke fishing are getting ramped up.

Stripers are now in residence, and the post-spawn fish from the Hudson are starting to show up. So are a large number of fat females loaded with roe, especially in the Peconics, and there is considerable talk about whether these are misfires from the Hudson or whether they’re fish that may be heading up into the Peconic River to spawn. There’s never been any record of bass spawning in the Peconic that I’m aware of, and the conditions there aren’t particularly conducive to it happening—but it is a freshwater-sourced river, so anything is possible.

The weakfish have mostly pulled the disappearing act they always do when they start spawning, but they should emerge hungry and aggressive in the next several days, and the necks in the Peconics will be a good place to start bouncing touts for when they turn on.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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