The calendar says it is fall and with air temperatures at night falling into the 40s regularly, now we are all readily aware of its arrival.Despite summer-like temperatures for the first couple weeks of September, the standard signs of the early fall migration have dutifully appeared—and flourished—in the last few weeks.
The abundant bait, particularly bay anchovies, has schooled up in huge clouds in Block Island Sound and along the ocean beaches from Montauk to Moriches. False albacore have charged in on them in numbers as big was we’ve seen in many years, providing great light tackle angling (and the huge numbers and widely spread schools have meant that the usual scrum of guides and googs has not materialized … yet).
Last week the area’s mullet, typically the first of our large bait species to get the urge to leave the area, made their run through the gauntlet. Some decent striped bass deemed the occasion worthy of their appearance in the surf zone. But once the mullet had satisfied them, or escaped their jaws, the bass again faded away into the deeps.
The schools of stripers that are the marquee attraction of the fall run, particularly off Montauk, have yet to show themselves on the clouds of anchovies, which may account for the still relatively sparse crowds of fishermen in the shadow of the lighthouse. A few have been caught on the rips close to the point again and in the Shinnecock Inlet, so the seeds are there. Whether the stripers will put in their traditional appearance this year, or wait until some other population of bait finds its way to our waters, is the story waiting to be told.
Fluke season ended this week, so bottom fishermen are left now with only the abundant black sea bass and porgies to fill their coolers and freezers for the offseason. Blackfish will be on the menu in a few weeks, and cod will likely follow soon after.
Beyond the horizon, big game species have been very cooperative—Mother Nature, not so much. Yellowfin and bigeye tuna at the Fish Tails canyon provided a second week of gangbusters fishing last week, before the winds started to blow. The weather window has not yet opened again to let fishermen have another shot at the tunas. With word of some truly trophy yellowfins being caught by commercial fishermen far to the east, many big game anglers are champing at the bit to get back to “the edge” in hopes that this year will be the kind of fall fishing for big tunas we all became used to in the 1980s and 1990s.
Catch ’em up. See you out there.
The Mid-Atlantic Fisheries Management Council and Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission will host a public scoping session at the Montauk Library this week on possible amendments to the fluke, or summer flounder, management plan for the East Coast. The meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, September 25 in the library meeting room.
Fishermen and members of the fishing industry are asked to come offer their views and concerns on the management of fluke stocks, particularly with respect to issues like commercial-recreational quota allocations, dead discards, ecosystem impacts and data collection.
The Southampton Town Trustees approved a host of changes to their waterfowling regulations in town waters that had been the subject of two public meetings earlier this year. The changes were tailored a little since those meetings, but were largely the same as what was discussed.
Starting this fall, new hunters will be limited to two blinds per person. Those with multiple registered spots from years past will not be subject to the limits.
All blind owners must obtain a three-year permit from the Town Trustees and must present a valid waterfowl hunting license and duck stamp, and have their blind grassed by December 31 each year. All blinds will have to be marked with registration numbers on placards on the outside back and inside the blind.
These and the other new rules are a boon for hunters in Southampton, thanks to the Trustees, Bay Constables and members of the advisory committee that helped draft them.
The Southampton Town Bay Constables are giving hunter safety education classes this month and will participate in the youth waterfowling programs at Hubbard County Park in Flanders. The state Department of Environmental Conservation is also offering the hunting safety course in Flanders and Calverton next month. Visit www.dec.ny.gov for more information.