Well, true to form, the waterfowling season starts this week so it’s raining and breezy two days prior, but come Thursday morning’s opener, us hunters will find ourselves bathing in sunshine and stripping off camo gear as the sunlight glinting off the glass calm water pushes temps into the 60s. Same old same, round these parts.
But we get a nice late season again this year, so like a lot of guys I imagine, I’ll put in a gratuitous effort on Thursday, go eat my turkey and start rigging fishing rods again.
The striped bass are looking like they’re going to put in something of a curtain call, though whether it’s just a bow and a wave or a lively encore set remains to be seen.
The herring slipped into Block Island Sound last week and have brought with them what appears to be a healthy body of striped bass. The boats off Montauk have been largely held at bay by the weather but those that have slogged out through the choppy seas when the successive gales subsided have found plenty of hungry bass willing to gobble live-lined herring. There’s not many jumbos in the mix yet, mostly teens and 20-pound class fish, but if they hang for a couple weeks they’ll be getting steadily fatter on high protein herring snacks.
The ideal scenario would be for these bass to hang around in the rips for two weeks or so and then wander west along the beaches. It appears there are some big bluefish in the neighborhood still so there’s a chance that when the herring do split they will take the shallow road.
The surf scene has been showing some faint signs of life the last few days. As is typical when the herring arrive, there are some fish to be had on the north side bars in Montauk on the night tides, mostly fat schoolies. The Mecox cut produced a couple of better fish late in the week last week, like Freddy Lederman’s 29-pounder that won him the surf division of the 3rd Annual East End Bait & Tackle Striped Bass Tournament. If the rest of the leaderboard in the tournament is any indication, the western inlets still have some very nice fish in them too and the herring should keep them feeding also.
On other fronts, the blackfish bite has been steady as she goes for just about everybody, when the winds made the spots accessible. It’s been a great blackfish season as a whole; it would appear, hopefully a good sign for the blackfish stocks. There has been talk of cutting quotas again next year, which could force states to shorten seasons and slash bag limits, which would be a shame for fishermen and a crushing blow to a lot of businesses.
There are plenty of codfish mixed into the blackfish catch for those boats that are heading to some of the deeper ocean spots. Coxes Ledge and some of the other wrecks are holding lots of fish too, so this weekend’s expected calm seas should give everyone plenty of opportunity to put some of whatever their favorite fish is on ice.
Catch ’em up. See you out there.