Striper Season Opens But Cod Still The Best Bet

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I know these little teases of spring we’ve been getting have all of us champing at the bit to start catching our warm-months fishing season, but if you want to put some fish in the boat it’s the winter fish that are still the meal ticket.When I was a youngin’, March and April, aside from a mackerel trip or two, were cod season. The cod don’t seem to think that has changed. It hasn’t been the gangbusters day-trip fishing we used to see at Coxes Ledge but some big baccala were swung over the rails of the handful of local party and charter boats that are still haunting the wrecks off the South Fork this week. I’m talking fish up to 40 pounds and good numbers of 8- to 10-pounders that fill up totes quickly.

The fishing has been good enough that a couple of the charters from west of Fire Island made the marathon treks east to some of the wrecks off our coast, which do not get the fishing pressure those closer to the New York Bight do.

If you’re looking for a ride to the wrecks, check in with the Hampton Lady out of Shinnecock and the King Cod out of Moriches—they’ve been hitting it hard. I haven’t heard much from the grounds off Montauk.

Speaking of winter, it’s winter flounder season again. The new-old, nearly year-round season hasn’t become official yet but we’re working under the April-May season of the last few years and a few sinker bouncers have put in some time in the mud. A scant few flounder have been caught in the canals and back bay holes, about what could be expected considering the number of flounder in the bays the last few years and that water temps are still lingering in the mid 40s. But it’s something, right?

East End Bait & Tackle in Hampton Bays and Haskells in East Quogue (check out their new shop in Westhampton!) have worms in stock if you’re looking to drown a few.

There are signs of spring in the bays too. The ospreys are loading up on perch and alewives (RIP to the one that was so excited about the big white perch it snatched out of Mecox that it forgot to fly higher than the headlights of Billy Pell’s truck). The marsh frogs woke up in a big way on Friday night, a sure sign that the night frosts should be behind us. A couple small schools of bunker have found their way into Shinnecock Bay.

The Peconic River sharpies are picking away at a few stripers and with the Sagg Pond cut running there should be at least a decent excuse for the surf rats to go exploring for opening day of the striped bass season on Wednesday. I know I will.

This Saturday looks like it’s going to be a sunny and breezy spring day, so after you’ve thrown a dozen fruitless casts in the surf, or finished organizing your turkey gear, you should head out to Amagansett to the East Hampton Sportsmen’s Alliance expo at the Amagansett Fire House. This year, the fourth installment of the expo, will again feature plenty of hunting and fishing and boating booths to soothe the spring fishing fever. If you have young kids this is a particularly fun event as there will be archery, fly casting, rod building and decoy demonstrations, the Coast Guard always has one of its go-fast boats on site and there’s plenty of knowledgeable old timers eager to offer some encouragement to young sportsmen.

New to the program for this year’s expo is the “super raffle,” for a Stoeger 3500 shotgun, a guided waterfowl shoot, or a Montauk fishing charter and a rod-and-reel combo from Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor. Only 300 tickets will be sold.

Gates open at 10 a.m. and admission is free. Check it out, it’s a fun event.

In the meantime, catch ’em up. See you out there.

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