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Sep 27, 2011 9:41 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

Calm Waters Make For Hot Tuna

Sep 27, 2011 1:50 PM

The light south winds of the past week brought back the humidity of summer—but not the heat, thank goodness—and more or less shut down the striper bite in the surf. But those winds also meant glass-calm waters in the bays and sounds, perfect for boating and for hunting false albacore.

This is the time of year when albies—little tunny, technically—charge through our waters, and they’ve arrived in big numbers this year, maybe the most in several years. From Watch Hill, Rhode Island, to the south side of Montauk, to the inlets of the South Shore, the small tunas have been on the feed for the last couple weeks.

With the bass fishing quieted by the calm conditions—both conditions likely to have changed as of today—a lot of anglers have turned to the albies for entertainment. Flat ocean makes spotting their fitful boils easy, and when they stay up long enough to get an artificial to them, whoa, Nellie!

Most found what they were looking for. In the stretch of water approximately between Montauk Harbor and Watch Hill Lighthouse north of Fisher’s Island, it seems hard to run more than a half mile or so without running into a school of albies ripping up a school of bay anchovies.

For those without a boat but a willingness to take a road trip, the shore bite for albies has been solid on the North Shore too, in the stretch between Horton’s Point and Orient. The big albies seem to lurk up there too, for some reason—it’s where John Skinner got his record 21-pounder a couple years ago—and the fish aren’t quite as leader shy as they seem to be down here.

At Shinnecock Inlet, the only place locally that produces any albie bite from shore, the fishing has been inconsistent again this year. The once-reliable fishery has cooled in the last five or six years, offering only rare shots at the albies from the rocks. There were a couple of hours of hot fishing last Monday when the albies washed up onto the rocks in good numbers, but otherwise the fishing this year has been very uneventful, so trekking to the North Shore might not be such a bad idea.

For a shot at some bigger tuna, a few boats escaped to the canyons in the windows of good weather this week. From the reports, the troll bite is still awash in some nice-sized longfin albacore and a few large bigeyes. Bryan Fromm put his third bigeye in as many trips aboard his Flying Dutchman, and the Sea U II out of Shinnecock had a 200-pounder. Longfin numbers can be counted in the dozens, with 25 or 30 or more the norm. The night bite in the eastern canyons hasn’t been anything to speak of, but to the south a bit, in the Toms and Lindenkohl, it’s been red hot, with hordes of yellowfin in the 60- to 80-pound range on the chew.

Hopefully, the east winds are firing up the surf bite now until the next cold snap gets the baitfish on the move in earnest. The bays are still loaded with pods of rain minnows, so the fuel of the fall blitzes still hasn’t been pumped into the engine. Soon enough.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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