When the fall fishing doesn’t bust open right after Labor Day like this, a lot of fishermen develop a twitch. Eight full days after the exodus, the relief has worn off and fishermen are now champing at the bit to get tied into a fish at the end of a surf rod. There has been little opportunity for a fix.Oddly, Friday’s cold front and chilly temperatures didn’t seem to spark much life from migratory species. And with Wednesday looking more like mid-summer again, there might not be another trigger this week.
The bait is aware that the time has come. Bay anchovies are carpeting much of Gardiners Bay and Shinnecock Inlet, and the red gills of mullet have been seen skirting shorelines in Montauk. Sandeels are in the surf line across many stretches of open beach. A friend and I were in Block Island Sound the other day and came across a ribbon of baby crabs, none bigger than a pea, some 5 feet wide and a quarter mile long, paddling for the open sea.
So the powder is in the pan, the hammer is cocked—we just need something to strike the flint. Unfortunately, it’s looking like a beautiful September for those who are not surf fishermen. Warm and sunny dominates the forecast for the next couple of weeks, with only weak cool fronts passing through. We may have to enjoy a few more days sitting on the beach and look forward to plying them in October.
There are fish to be had from the surf though. The south side of Montauk has been giving up some decent stripers on the night tides, mostly to eel casters. A modest pick of fish up to 25 pounds were taken off the points between town and the lighthouse straight through the weekend.
For boat fishermen, the rips off the lighthouse are starting to come alive again, though the most consistent fishing is still way to the east. Shinnecock and Moriches are still largely quiet on the striper front, with a few smallish fish being taken in the dark and at dawn on live baits.
If you want to put some fillets in the fridge, your best bets right now are on the bottom. Fluke fishing is still going strong, though you’ve got to look around a bit more. The bite seems to shift from shallow to deep almost daily, though the biggest fish are definitely coming from the deeper runs.
Off Montauk the fish are in about 90 feet of water and have thinned out substantially. The Shinnecock fleet is still picking away pretty solid, the “Hampton Lady” has been getting on some real jumbos way out in the deeps while others have been finding a good number of keeper fish in as little as 20 feet of water, right outside the inlet, according to the guys at East End Bait & Tackle. There’s also still a bunch of triggerfish to be caught off the rocks of the Shinnecock Inlet. Porgies and sea bass are stacked up on the reefs and around the rocks off Montauk as well.
The offshore scene has gone largely quiet. There’s plenty of small longfins around, but the bigeyes seem to have moved out of the local canyons for the time being. A 95-pound yellowfin (sorry, guys, that was not a bigeye) won the White Water Outboard Shootout at Star Island Yacht Club over the weekend after winds made the show basically a one-day event.
As the moon approaches in the next couple weeks, we’ll probably get an idea of whether the hot bigeye fishing is over for the year. There was a major bite of big fish in the southern canyons this week, so the jumbos might have departed for the year already. School and medium-sized bluefins are working their way through the Block Island spots, but no signs of giants thus far.
Don’t forget the East Hampton Sportsmen’s Alliance shoot coming up at the Maidstone Gun Club next week on Sunday, September 22. Drop a note to EHSportsmen@aol.com if you’re interested.
Catch ’em up, folks. See you out there.