Cod on the rod! An exclamation we should be hearing regularly this time of year. But bass on the line? Believe it or not, yes.Polar vortexes and blizzard warnings be damned, last weekend reminded us that this is New York, not North Dakota, and a little shot of warm sun were all fishermen needed to go sniffing for something to play tug-o-war with and, hopefully, get the frying pan sizzling, too.
A few obsessive striper hounds worked the back bays and found a few striped residents lurking. Even in this coldest of cold winters, with bay water temps hovering below 40 degrees, it’s pretty astounding that there are stripers still in our region—far more than we probably realize. All it takes is a warm afternoon and those fish will come scooting right to the surface to warm their scales, as will whatever small baitfish (mainly silversides) are in the area, too, and it doesn’t take much to remind a fish that it is hungry!
For cod fishermen, the weather was ideal, with calm seas combining with the warm air, leaving little doubt that some buffalo cod fritters could be found, along with ground venison nachos, on the table of a Super Bowl party or two. The Viking Fleet boats finally got into some good cod fishing off Montauk. Bigger fish in the 20-pound class were in the mix of a pretty good bite of market fish.
These days, a three to five keeper per man average, with the sharpies picking a few more, is a fairly decent day. As long it’s mixed with a healthy seasoning of ling, anglers will have a healthy take-home bag, worth the not-so-cheap cost of cod trips on a head boat these days. Sea bass are fewer and farther between this time of year, but it’s a real shame they can’t be kept when they come along.
Out of Shinnecock, the Hampton Lady got back on the horse over the weekend, too, and found some decent fishing, though nothing like the horse hauling they were doing earlier in the year. Captain James said they did similar to the Viking, with most guys putting a nice handful of keeper cod and some big ding-a-lings in their tote, a pollack or two coming over the rail, and a 20-plus fish taking the pool. It ain’t 1988, but it’s pretty solid fishing for Groundhog Day.
The scattered and few weather windows this winter have made it damn difficult to find a good body of cod, and stay on them for more than a trip or two. This week’s one, two, three punch of storm systems appears lined up to keep those hurdles coming. Wreck hopping will always produce a few fish for the boats with smaller crowds, but the big Montauk rigs need higher numbers and usually rely on finding the schools of fish over the open bottom. Hopefully, they’ll be able to stay on them in the next few weeks. The Viking starts daily trips this week.
Catch ’em up. See you out there.