Summer Returns But Fall Beckons

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Summer weather is back just in time for the last days of summer. Nonetheless, the cool temps the last couple weeks, especially those 50-degree nights, have got a lot of fishermen, and some fish, thinking of fall.Last week’s full moon seems to have sparked a baitfish bloom that may well signal the start of the fall run. Sandeels were in the ocean surf just about everywhere between Moriches and Montauk this week, and some shiners have finally appeared. The balls of bay anchovies, or rain minnows, are getting denser off Montauk, and big bluefish and a few small bass are starting to bust up on them in the mornings. A smattering of blitzes have formed up but have been short-lived.

The next cool snap after this warm spell will no doubt set off more regular blitzes as more schoolie bass catch the scent of the white bait and move into the surf zone. There’s lots of bunker in the eastern bays again, but as the red tide once again spreads, it is driving them out as it goes.

Plenty of large striped bass are still being caught off Montauk, mostly well to the east, but the troll bite is still pretty good on the incoming tide just east of the lighthouse. The night fishing from the surf is starting to turn on, both on the south side and the north side.

There are bluefish to be had just about everywhere, and some blitzes are moving along the ocean beaches in the evenings, with schoolie bass mixed in here and there.

Snappers are in the harbors in pretty good but not great numbers. Red tide might have something to do with that, or it could just be a cyclical downswing.

Fluking has been very good off Montauk, but it’s getting deeper and deeper. The bite this week seems to have been best all the way out in 90 feet of water. There’s still some fish in the bays, but getting smaller. That probably means that a mediocre fluke season is going to wind down pretty quickly this year.

In contrast, what has already quickly become and outstanding offshore fishing season is likely just getting ramped up. Once again, the weeks leading up to the August full moon have set off the bigeye tuna, and almost unreal numbers have come to the gaff. If things are to follow last year’s pattern, we should see a few more weeks of that. The one downside to the whole thing is that there are very, very few yellowfin tuna in the mix, so if you don’t get on the bigeyes, there is pretty much only some smallish albacore to be had.

Big applause for Scott Horowitz, Mark Cox, Doug Oakland, White Water Outfitters and all the other organizers of the 2013 Hamptons Offshore Invitational. It was one of the most amazing fishing years ever for the HOI, with about 100 bigeyes caught—by far the most ever in its 13-year history. Positive Attitude took home the top prize with a 248.5-pound bigeye, narrowly edging out the 248-pounder landed by the crew of Barbaric. The Rebel had the biggest yellowfin, a nice 102-pounder. Fish This had the biggest albacore, a 56.5-pounder, and Patriot had the biggest bluefin, at 70.5 pounds. Brian Burke’s new boat, Dorado, fittingly had the biggest dorado, or mahi mahi in Hawaiian, at 23.5 pounds.

More important than the fun that was had by the more than 200 crew members who fished the tournament, and the more than 300 people who turned out for Sunday night’s post-tourney party at Oakland’s Restaurant & Marina, is that the week’s festivities raised some $215,000 for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Long Island. Bravo, everyone!

Fishing will be heavier and the traffic will be lighter by this time next week.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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