It has been a classic week of the fall run, even while the weather seemed to be more like summer over the weekend.
The amazing blitzes of feeding fish around Montauk Point hit their highest notes late in the week and throughout the holiday weekend, giving lots of anglers a chance to witness one of Mother Nature’s most amazing displays. On Saturday and Sunday, there must have been more than 200 boats within a mile or two of the lighthouse, all tussling with striped bass of various sizes.
The blitzes of fish up against the shore are mostly smallish schoolies, 5- to 10-pound fish, but the rips just a mile out into Block Island Sound are holding plenty of big fish. An angler aboard the Westlake hung a 54-pounder on the scale at the Westlake Fishing Lodge on Monday afternoon. Most of the big fish hunters are drifting live eels for bait these days, though trolling wire or chumming with bunker chunks is working well, too.
For hunting fish from the surf, Montauk is the place to go these days, but there have been some showings of fish along the beaches and jetty rocks to the west as well. As the mullet and rain minnows pour out of the bays, the stripers have started to patrol the surf zone. Early mornings and the last rays of daylight are the best bets for finding a steady bite, but late at night working the scoured holes in the beachhead will produce a pick of nice fish, too. For boaters, drifting live baits in the inlets is a pretty sure bet, day or night.
Blackfish season got off to a good start for many anglers. The shallower spots in the bays are still a little hit and miss, but the south shore boats and those running over to the Rhode Island or Connecticut coastlines from Montauk have found plenty of hungry togs. The Shinnecock and Moriches party boats have had an unusually good start to their season, since the really good blackfishing doesn’t usually get fired up there until water temperatures dip into the 50s. Black sea bass and, thanks to a reprieve from the authorities, porgy have been red hot also, and a good opportunity for bottom fishermen to put together a good haul of fish for the freezer. Early prospects for cod have been few, but some of the deeper spots should be starting to hold fish.
For those with waterfowl on their brains, New York State has announced its 2011 seasons. One again, we’ll be getting a split season, but the break allows us to hunt all the way through nearly the end of January this year.
Sea duck gunning will open next week, October 15, and run through January 29. The season for most other duck species and Canada geese will open on Thanksgiving Day, November 24. We get three days of hunting over this traditional weekend before the season closes for a week. It will re-open December 5 and remain open straight through to January 29.
The special youth weekend pre-season will be November 12 and 13, when only hunters under the age of 16 may hunt. Adults may accompany them, of course, but may not have guns.
Bag limits will remain at six ducks per hunter, per day; that will again be limited to no more than four mallards, two redheads or scaup, one blackduck, and one canvasback. Sea duck bag is seven birds, no more than four scoters.
Shoot ’em up. See you out there.