Blackfish Opens, Bass On Beach

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Sorry for the miscue last week on the fluke scoping hearing in Montauk. Hopefully anyone who went dashing to the Montauk Library on Thursday afternoon came back on Tuesday to offer their input.And hopefully you got your fill of fluke fishing this year. It was not a bang-up year by any means but there were a fair number of fluke to be had. The first year of regional quotas was a resounding success in New York, where the 18-inch minimum certainly helped fill out limits this year. Now we wait and see whether fisheries managers have the sense, and the fortitude in the face of what is sure to be intense lobbying by New Jersey interests, to maintain the program. It seems likely that they will but there’s no telling when it comes to political wrangling.

There was some good surf fishing finally in the last week or so. Even though there’s been more summer-like days than fall-like days of late, the chilly nights have brought down water temperatures substantially and striped bass have moved back into the shallows.

The Montauk surf gang started finding some solid fish, primarily at night. Paulie’s Tackle weighed in a 50-pounder for a lucky angler.

To the west, the cuts in Bridgehampton sparked some scattered shots of decent fishing, albeit short-lived. Adam Flax dragged a striper onto the sand that tipped the scale at Tight Lines to 30 pounds.

Otherwise the fish caught from the sand have mostly been schoolies, with the occasional small keeper in the mix. Big bluefish are spreading their bloody range, leaving oil slicks on the surface of the ocean whenever they come across one of the schools of bunker, alewives or mullet that are migrating past (there are lots and lots of bunker in the bays still).

Everyone continues to await the first emergence of schoolie striped bass on the clouds of rain bait that have, thus far, been the exclusive fare of marauding packs of false albacore. We really haven’t had much of a strong cold front yet, of the sort that usually sparks the blitzes. Some years the fish have waited until late October to come charging in, though those years rarely amount to much in the record books.

It has been a fantastic year for the light-tackle gang already, thanks to the albies. The little tunas have alternated between maddeningly difficult to catch in the last week, to stupid easy and the fleet of boats chasing them off Montauk Point has been big. The action in the Shinnecock Inlet has slowed somewhat but there are still plenty to be had.

Black sea bass are now the primary target of bottom fishermen, with a few big porgies in most buckets as well. Blackfishing will kick off this weekend so we’ll see if the water has cooled enough to bring the togs out of hiding. I’m sure the sharpies will be able to pick a few out of the right spots with little trouble.

Offshore continues to be the place to be when the waters are calm. Saturday in the Fish Tails canyon was a bloodbath of yellowfin and bigeye tuna gobbling baited hooks. Congratulations to Chris Miller and his crew, who chalked up the Westlake Fishing Lodge’s dock record for swordfish, a 256-pounder, knocking off Chris’s father’s 207-pounder from the 1980s.

More good fishing to be had this week for sure.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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