Bass Cooling Down, Cod Heating Up

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To start out this week, I’d like to offer some overdue kudos. With this week’s column in the Press’s eastern edition there finally is a photo of Bill Yawney’s 51-pound, 11-ounce striped bass, caught off the beach in Southampton Village back in October during the sandeel bite near Flying Point.

It is the fish of a lifetime and Bill deserves a hearty pat on the back from every fisherman he encounters for setting the fish free to fight, and spawn again, another day. It isn’t easy to put a fish like that back but if you take a deep breath at the moment, enjoy the pride of the catch and the envy of everyone near you, get a picture, and set it back you’ll find the celebration of the catch all the sweeter. Just ask Bill.

Most of the striped bass caught in the last week or so would barely make a good snack for Bill’s fish. It’s hard to say the fishing has been bad with the number of fish that are in the surf still. As recently as Saturday afternoon you could go and catch bass one after another from the beach. But after the two weeks of big fish we enjoyed in October, the ubiquitousness of tiny bass is hard to get excited about.

All is not lost but it’s looking like the fat lady has her leotard on. The herring have started schooling in Block Island Sound but there has not yet been an influx of new stripers to the area along with them. I’m told by one of the gillnet guys that there were still some good hauls of stripers coming up late last week off East Hampton. And if you’re really grasping at straws for signs of a coming flood of stripers, another friend was in Rhode Island last week and had pretty good surf fishing on fish in the 30-inch class.

The raw truth is that if you are a die-hard and are going to keep plugging away for the next couple weeks you are probably going to catch a ton of small fish and, just maybe, eventually find a slug of better fish. For most surf fishermen, though, the season is probably over. Hopefully you got some fillets in the freezer.

While one day ends another dawns. Last week saw the first forays by local boats to the deeper wrecks in search of cod, and the returns were promising. The “Hampton Lady” did it’s first deepwater trip of the season and came home with a cooler full of slobs, including a pig that topped 40 pounds, and several nice steakers to go with piles of big sea bass. Check back next week for a picture of a cod that will remind you of 1985. Out in Montauk, the “Blue Fin IV” also hit the wrecks and filled its totes with cod and big sea bass.

Blackfishing is also just hitting its stride. Big togs are coming up off all the reefs along the South Fork. Aboard the “Shinnecock Star” on Saturday there were half a dozen fish that pushed or topped the five-pound mark with the pool fish an eight-pounder.

The cold weather this week will keep pushing the sea bass offshore and as they go more boats will be seeing their mixed bags filled with more and more cod. There are plenty of party and charter boats sailing out of Montauk, Shinnecock and Moriches so your fishing season should not go south with the mercury. Put away the Korkers and Aquaskins and get out the Underarmour, Grundens, and Xtra Tuf’s, it’s time for winter fishing.

The Eastern Sufffolk Ducks Unlimited dinner is coming up next week so it’s time to get your tickets.

Don’t forget to get your tickets to the Eastern Suffolk Ducks Unlimited dinner in Southampton on December 6. Call Kelly Gang at (631) 902-4967, Steve Rempe at (631) 807-2395 or Don Grodski at (516) 660-0002 for tickets and info.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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