Smaller Striped Bass Mean Waning Season

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Large numbers of striped bass continue to inhabit the ocean surf along almost all of Long Island’s southern shoreline. The average size of the fish took a substantial dip in the last week, as rats and tiny bass as small as eight inches swarmed into the littoral zone.Whether the bigger fish that had been in residence for the three prior weeks were pushed out or departed in search of denser concentrations of bait, the little fish are now the bulk of the catch and it will probably remain that way. For now, at least, surf fishermen can still get wet with their light sticks and tug on a good number of fat rats. It’s likely those fish will remain in the region well into next month considering the number of sandeels that are still around.

There are a lot of crossed fingers in hopes that a new body of fish will come in with the herring in the next few weeks but there are plenty of old salts who think that monstrous body of fish that set upon the sandeels last month was the vast majority of the Atlantic striped bass population.

Kudos to old Bill Yawney who hauled the biggest of the babysitters out of the suds, a 51-pounder caught at Flying Point a couple weeks ago. There were a bunch off 30-pounders taken too but the bulk of the big fish seem to have passed the South Fork by in favor of the big schools of sandeels off Fire Island.

Bass fishing is good for now but scientists say that a coming slump in the population is probably going mean a big drop in the number of fish caught in the next several years. Last month the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission recommended that the recreational haul of striped bass be cut back substantially starting in 2015 to avoid over-fishing of the shrinking bass stock. The days of two-fish bags for recreational anglers are probably numbered. As the bass fishing slows down anglers can turn their attention to other species. Black sea bass are thick as molasses on some of the offshore wrecks and blackfishing has been okay, but not great, on most of the rock piles in Long Island Sound.

Offshore crews are champing at the bit to find a window for getting offshore with each new satellite image that shows a huge bulge of warm Gulf Stream water sliding along the edge of the canyons. A high pressure wave this weekend could mean a good shot at some November tuna and swordfish for hearty crews.

Waterfowl season is right around the corner too and that means it’s time to get your tickets to your local Ducks Unlimited chapter dinner. The Eastern Suffolk D.U. Chapter dinner will be on December 6 at the old Polish Hall, now called 230 Elm, in Southampton Village. This is certainly one of the best DU events of the year with a small arsenal of guns being raffled off and the always wonderful feast put on by Tim Burke and Randy Reiss. There are pre-dinner gun raffles and a special gun raffle for “table captains” who put together a table of eight or more. Contact Mark Borucke at 516-702-2033 or Kelly Gang at 902-4967 for more information or to order tickets.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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