It actually felt like duck hunting season early this week. Work kept me out of the blind but the cold and precipitation had me looking longingly at the gun case in the back seat. For those with pits or field blinds, Monday and Tuesday were certainly the finest kind of days.
Last week was quite the different story. The calm had the offshore fleet running for the canyon, and mid-week at Hudson’s east elbow looked and felt more like summertime for the number of boats bobbing in glass calm seas and the bare arms in each cockpit. Bluefin tuna, mostly small giant class in the 250- to 400-pound range and a few slightly bigger, have brought a fleet of boats from harbors as far away as Portsmouth, New Hampshire to town. (If you’re a fan of the television show “Wicked Tuna,” reviled sharpie “Tuna.com,” is berthed at Oakland’s Marina in Hampton Bays.)
On Wednesday and Thursday of last week more than 60 bluefins were landed at Oakland’s docks and loaded onto refrigerated trucks bound for the high end wholesale fish markets in New York and Tokyo. Another 20 or so came in early this week. A couple of bigeyes have been in the mix as well and a longfin albacore or two. Prices have been ranging from $9 to $14 per pound for these fish in a year when very few bluefin came from the northeastern U.S.
The weather has kept most boats from making another run to the edge since then and the coming several days doesn’t look great either, but few of the boats have left with the potential for big money trips on the horizon. Last year the good bite lasted through Christmas Eve before a series of gales washed it out.
The seas closer to land were not quite so storm tossed and the action on the local wrecks remained red hot. Blackfish season looks to be going out with a bang as almost every local boat that went rock hopping loaded up with plenty of big togs. If your freezer still isn’t full for winter, the deeper water piles are giving up lots of blackfish and some decent cod and that fishing should continue through the new year, when black seabass season technically ends. It remains to be seen if managers will open it immediately for the first couple months of winter again as they did last year. If it is going to happen this year, the good codfishing won’t get fired up for another month or so probably.
If you’ve already tucked away all your fishing tackle, organized the basement twice and are jonesing for something fishing related to do before the tackle shows start in February, East End Bait & Tackle in Hampton Bays is having its annual end-of-season clearance sale. Most things are at least 20 percent off and all offshore lures and a lot of surf plugs are 50 percent off. Stop in and stock up with some stuff that will give you a reason to open up every box of lures you have in your basement at least one more time.
Cold is coming, hopefully this storm front will push some more northern birds into town. I’m praying for calm weather and more tuna time.
Catch ’em up. See you out there.