With Bass Gone, Focus Turn To Cod

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So that’s it for the striper fishing, it seems.No new body of fish moved into Block Island Sound with the herring, and two gales last week seem to have driven even the micro-bass out of the surf zone, even though there clearly still is plenty of bait in the area.

If you’re really jonesing, the bite is just getting started down on the Jersey Shore, and it may last well into the new year, if you don’t mind the long haul.

Sigh. On to other pursuits …

Blackfishing still has a week to go. The fish are heading deep, and the reefs and wrecks off the southern coast are the best bet right now. Hermit crabs are a sure thing if you can get them, but greenies will catch plenty of fish and tend to produce the bigger ones.

The bottom-fishing crowd is shifting its focus now to the offshore spots and totes full of black seabass and cod. Seabass are still thick as flies in a lot of the deep spots, and a sprinkling of good cod makes for a very nice bag of fish fillets to take home for the winter.

There are several Montauk charter boats still doing regular trips with some blackfish drops as a garnish. The Blue Fin IV, Elizabeth II and Capt. Mark, I know, are still at it, and there are a couple others, I’m sure.

As is typical of the early season, some big cod are coming up from the first drops of the season on wrecks that haven’t been fished since last spring. The Hampton Lady head boat out of Hampton Bays is hitting home runs again, with at least three fish topping 40 pounds in the first few trips last week, and a handful of 30s also. The wrecks south of Shinnecock don’t get fished very much, since they’re a long way from a big port, and they always hold a lot of cod early in the season—so get out there while the getting is good. Once blackfishing winds down, the Shinnecock Star will be making runs to the offshore grounds, too, so that will be another dozen spots at the rail available.

The Montauk party boat fleet will be waiting with bated breath and baited hooks for signs of a large body of cod coming within range this year, something that hasn’t really happened the last two winters after several very good years.

Cod populations are struggling mightily, and the recreational fishing chances are very erratic, to say the least. Best thing to do is keep an eye on the online reports and try to jump on a good bite as soon as one materializes, because it may not last long.

Waterfowl seasons got started this past week. The weather has hardly been ideal for duck hunting, but it sounds like it was decent in most spots on opening day anyway. Friday looks to be stormy, so duck blinds will be bustling with guns, dogs and ducks, I’m sure.

Last chance to get tickets to the Ducks Unlimited dinner put on by the Eastern Suffolk Chapter in Southampton on Friday night, December 6.

If you’re starting your Christmas shopping, Jeff Nichols asked me to remind fishermen that his book “Caught” is in all BookHampton stores now and is available at Amazon, too. The book is an account of his years as a fisherman and commercial pinhooker, and some of the seedy underbelly of an activity and industry that too often operates on the shy side of legal, in broad daylight. It’s a good read if you haven’t already.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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