Weakfish Make Up For Bass Absence

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I completely hadn’t realized that this coming weekend was Memorial Day. In my blissful ignorance one morning this week, after a pre-dawn session on Noyac Bay, I swung by Sagg Main to catch the sunrise and whip a few plugs into the white water.The subtle warmth of the sun just halfway out of the ocean and the smell of the salts stirred by the surf was mesmerizingly relaxing to my sleep-deprived eyes. I was not even very upset that nothing was thrashing at the end of the line. The rod tip thumping metronomically under the pressure of a Super Strike swimmer’s lip digging into the undertow of the still boisterous surf was as relaxing as a massage.

My peripheral vision was startled by the appearance of a woman walking along the beach, between me and the water. I paused my retrieve for a split second to relieve the pressure building on the lure, loaded to spring free of the water, as she walked directly under my rod tip, apparently oblivious to the physical presence of another person or of what that person was doing and whether or not that activity might pose any danger to her. Whether her own behavior might be of some inconsideration of another person was certainly never going to cross her mind, or probably never had. I bade her a bemused but cheerful good morning. She didn’t even pick up her head.

That’s when I remembered: Summer is here!

A cold spring and somewhat slow start to the fishing season could have fooled a body into thinking summer was months away still. But it’s here.

The fishing season is only just getting into full swing. It’s been depressingly slow for surf fishermen. Very few quality fish and very little in the way of a consistent bite of anything at all has many surf rats scratching their heads. A fish here, a few fish there but gone the next day, has been about the long and short of the beach action.

The only real bright spots have been the fairly good weakfish and porgy action in the bays and a pretty decent start to the fluking off Montauk over the weekend.

The porgies have been chewing their heads off on most days and good catches are coming together, though it is certainly not as gangbusters as it was last year at this time. Few could have expected it to be, frankly, considering the tens of thousands of fish that must have been taken out of the Peconics stock last spring, not to mention the offspring that didn’t spring from them.

Before the big bluefish stormed onto the scene mid-week, the weaks had been fairly easy to get at. Now it’s a matter of filtering through the teeth to pick up a tiderunner or two. The fish have been a pretty nice size, mostly 4-5 pounders with some 7s, 8s and 9s in the mix. Shorebound anglers are picking a few here and there out of the Shinnecock and Quogue canals and some back bay spots, though that tailed off precipitously after the arrival of the bluefish.

Fluke fishing opened with much anticipation over the weekend under rules more generous than we’ve seen in nearly two decades. Five fish per person at a minimum size of just 18 inches is the reward of a new management system that balanced the quota for the entire tri-state area and it seems to have paid off on opening weekend. Fishing was not red hot and the fish were not huge but most anglers seem to have been able to scratch together a solid creel with limits fairly common. Frying pans rejoiced.

On other fronts, there are still squid to be had around some lighted piers and a few flounder are being caught in Moriches Bay. There’s a big bulge of warm water sweeping over the canyons, the second one already this year, but weather windows have been scant and fleeting. One group of adventurous Montauk youths spent a night on a center console in the Tails last week, with no reward. Patience will pay off.

Hopefully the same goes for striper fishing. With talk of declining stocks and pared down limits on the horizon, plenty of fishermen watching thousands of alewives flee unmolested from Mecox Bay this week are worrying that the dearth is endemic, not localized. I tend to not think so. There are nice fish in the area, they will find us on their time. SBT.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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