Big Blackfish, Faint Hopes For Stripers

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So now we wait with bated breath—or maybe, for this crowd, it should be “baited” breath—so to speak.The next week or so should tell the tale of the striped bass season for 2013. Was it fast and furious, or will it persevere through a second month and into early winter? We shall see.

Schools of herring have arrived in Block Island Sound. Their arrival probably signals the last chance we have of another body of stripers coming into local waters and turning the fishing temperature hot again.

It’s been decidedly cool for the last week, in most places, anyway. Tiny stripers took over the surf zone for most of the last couple weeks. With light tackle you could catch just about all you could stand on some days, so the fishing could hardly be called terrible. A mountain of perseverance and a dash of luck even produced a keeper or two here and there.

And a few bigger stripers are still lurking about. The big surf kicked up by Sunday night’s storms made for nearly perfect surf fishing conditions and brought a few fish up to the low 20-pound class into the surf in East Hampton, Southampton and Quogue again.

There are still lots of sandeels in the area, so the food is there. All we need is for a few more fish to move in.

If you’ve thrown in the towel on striper fishing, there are a few other options out there as well. Fishing for black seabass and blackfish is about as good as it gets right now. Party and charter boats out of Montauk, Shinnecock and Moriches are all putting limits in the box.

Congrats to Jim Williams on the chunky 12-pounder he pulled off one of the reefs out of Shinnecock, not a place normally associated with jumbo togs, aboard the Hampton Lady over the weekend.

The best blackfishing is steadily moving deeper, as is typical this time of year. Block Island and the rocky ledges off Montauk are producing the most consistent fishing.

The boats working the wrecks are loading up with nice seabass, some up to 6 pounds or better, and a mix of porgies and cod as well.

The sea bass are sliding offshore but should still be well within reach until the end of the year. The blackfishing should be good until the season closes on December 14.

There are squid in some of the harbors worth jigging and as the herring stack up they will become a viable target for the jarring crowd, even if they don’t bring any stripers with them.

The offshore made their last runs to the canyons this weekend and came up largely empty. The big guns are now left to hope the giants show up in our waters on their way south again, as they did last December.

Don’t forget to get your tickets to the Eastern Suffolk Ducks Unlimited dinner in Southampton on December 6. Call Steve Rempe at (631) 807-2395 or Don Grodski at (516) 660-0002 for tickets and info.

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