First Fishing Tourney, Waterfowlers Gathering Coming Up

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The first big fishing tournament of the year will take place this weekend, and with the opener of the fluke season looking promising and lots of weakfish and porgies and more striped bass in the area, there are high prospects for a money-winning catch. The Flanders Men’s Club will host its second annual Weakfish, Bluefish & Fluke Tournament and Striped Bass Calcutta, beginning on Friday at 5 p.m. (with an optional captains meeting at the gun club on Thursday night at 7 p.m.). Fishing may continue until 1 p.m. on Sunday and is open to any waters on the East End, so whether you fish in Moriches Bay or in Montauk, or anywhere in between, you are eligible to participate.

All fish must be weighed in at the Flanders Gun Club on Flanders Road by Sunday afternoon.

Entry fees are $25 for adults and $10 for juniors. The striped bass Calcutta is an additional $20 per angler. There will be tackle and cash prizes for adults and trophies for the junior winners in each species category.

There will be more than 50 raffles prizes and a big chicken barbecue at the gun club’s gorgeous waterfront property on Sunday afternoon, so it will be hard for anyone not to go away a winner.

Entry forms are available at Warren’s Bait & Tackle in Aquebogue, Edwards Sports in Riverhead, White Water Outfitters in Hampton Bays, Haskell’s Bait & Tackle in East Quogue, and East End Bait & Tackle in Hampton Bays. The official weigh-in station is at the Flanders Men’s Club, 1018 Flanders Road. For additional information, contact the Flanders Men’s Club at (631) 727-9746, or Mark Hodun, (631) 813-0279, or Bob Glinski, (631) 728-5761.

Also coming up on the events calendar is the sixth annual Eastern Suffolk Ducks Unlimited Waterfowl Hunters Barbecue. Always one of the most fun events of the year, the laid-back barbecue will take place at the Water Mill Community Center Field House. Randy Reiss will be behind the grills at 6 p.m., and the coolers will be filled with icy beer and sodas.

As always, there will be one of the best selections of raffles for hunting gear, including lots of decoy sets, and a half dozen guns.

Tickets are $35. Try to buy them in advance so the organizers get an idea of how many people are going to show up.

This casual little event is a perfect example of why the Eastern Suffolk Chapter has been in DU’s top 100 fundraising chapters twice in recent years. It’s an off-season event that the chapter puts a ton of effort into, loading it up with solid raffle prizes and making it fun for hunters from all over the South Fork. It’s not to be missed. Thanks to Mandy Sachtleben and Steve Rempe for heading up the organization this year. For more info, call Steve at (631) 807-2395.

Fishing got a big boost in the past week from the weakfish and porgies. It’s amazing how quickly the porgies moved into their usual haunts. In a matter of three days, fishing in the Peconics went from very spotty to gangbusters, with big, hungry porgies swarming all over and crushing anything that was dropped to them.

Weakfish came with them. More than a few have been taken by porgy fishermen, either on their porgy rigs or on bucktails and rubber stuff. Shore fishermen in Heady Creek and the Quogue Canal got a good shot at weakies, too, until the bluefish showed up, right on time, on Mother’s Day morning and either drove them out or scared away the bunker they were following.

Scott at East End Bait & Tackle in Hampton Bays also told me that a slug of big bluefish moved into the surf at Cupsogue Beach in Westhampton a couple of days last weekend.

There are good signs for the start of the fluke season on Saturday, too. The draggers are working hard just off the South Shore, and porgy fishermen have come up with a decent number of flatties already. The Peconics should offer an excellent chance at a heck of a mixed-bag fishery for the next week or two, until the weakfish go into their spawn.

Striped bass are still not here in big numbers, or sizes, but some warmer weather finally should get them rolling. The ocean beaches and back bay creeks have given up a scattered few keepers and plenty of little rats.

I haven’t seen a great abundance of small baitfish in the marshes yet this year, which is disconcerting. Some of the commercial bait guys say there are some spearing around, more than last year but not the big numbers they would expect to see in the area by now, even with the cold.

Water temps should push into the 50s finally this week, so, hopefully, that will bring some of the little critters into the marshes to start spawning.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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