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FOR SALE: Murry Brothers fighting chair. Good condition. Call 631 668 2019
Itís done, finished! This morning when I went out for the newspaper, the bucket holding my wifeís rainwater was all
The bass fishing just slowly petered out, with boats stopping fishing even though there were fish to be caught. Just not enough of them. The herring showed up, but you were better off eating them than using them for bait. There just werenít enough bass around for live bait fishing. Then, there were also too many bluefish. It certainly wasnít what the famed ďherring runĒ is supposed to be. The last trips that were sailed by any of the charterboats were for blackfish, seabass (for those with special permits, or no federal seabass license in state waters - I need a lawyer for this part), and occasional codfish. One day there were birds as far as the eye could see to the west from The Point, but the couple of boats going out couldnít be bothered.
The Locals Surf contest also ended with a whimper, with no contenders being caught after November 11, and most being caught in mid October. The final results are as follows;
Mike Milano - 50.52 lbs - 10/15
Mike Milano - 39.44 lbs - 11/5
Matt Vega - 37.04 lbs - 10/14
Wet Suit Division
Mike Coppola - 47.02 lbs - 10/22
Mary Ellen Kang - 23.68 lbs - 11/11
Mary Ellen Kang - 23.42 lbs - 10/4
Mary Ellen Kang - 22.90 lbs - 10/2
Ben McCarron - 26.72 lbs - 10/12
Nick Apostilades - 24.52 lbs - 10/25
Kevin Logi - 21.32 lbs - 11/10
Andreas Koutsogiannis - 10.78 lbs
There are a number of charterboats that are remaining in the water to get in on last years cod run; WINDY, LORI JAY, VIVIENNE, CAPT MARK, SEAWIFE, ELIZABETH and probably a couple of others. There will also be an influx of head boats from up-island, probably a half dozen or so. The cod better show up.
I f you prefer fishing in your tee shirt this winter over standing at an iced-up rail, drop me a line. I can set you up with a great trip to Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala or Belize.
See you in the spring
It feels like the end is near. The docks are emptying, while the yards are slowly filling up. Most of the charterboats are still in the water trying to scratch out a couple more trips. But itís kind of tough when we get weather like weíve had for the past five days. .
Before the blow there were plenty of fish, mostly blues, but if you kept looking you could find a pocket with half bass and half blues. Most of the bass were in the six to eight pound range, with an occasional ten pounder. Some of the blues were a lot bigger than the bass. All of the fishing was in the deep waters, out where the pirates sail.
Finally on Sunday a number of the charterboats sailed, but most came right back, thanks to big swells, filthy water and no fish. One boat who shall remain nameless went out further to the east and found a newer body of fish, all in the fifteen to twenty pound range, and no bluefish.
The guys fishing for blackfish have been doing well when the conditions are OK. Easy tides and light winds are pretty essential, especially over at Southwest Ledge. They have also been catching the occasional codfish, which is good news, because after last winters fishing there are going to be a lot of boats chasing them. The ROSIE from up-island has already gotten here and there are rumors of another four or five party boats planning to spend the winter here along with some charters that will probably stay in the water..
If you have always wanted to fish at Tropic Star Lodge in Panama but were never able to plan ahead the year in advance that is usually required to book a winter trip there, now is the time to act. They have been coming up with occasional cancellations, including one in mid January. If you are interested, give me a call, ASAP.
This is a weird fall. If you are interested in catching lots of fish, now is the time to come out here. If you are interested in catching some big striped bass that are typical this time of year, maybe not so much. The charter boats have been catching a ratio of around ten bluefish for every striped bass for the past week or so. And, the bass are all small, averaging around eight or nine pounds. Boats that make the trek over to Southwest Ledge, or other less notable spots eastward, are catching the same ratio of blues to bass, but somewhat larger fish of both species. On Monday I went out to try and use up the last of my commercial tags and we caught about seventy-five or so bass, with about twenty of them too small for the 24Ē commercial limit. This was down the south side around Ditch Plains. All the charter boats kept calling to see if we were catching any larger fish, since all they were catching were blues. The arrival of lots of small bass quite often is a sign that the end is near, but itís hard to believe that could be the case this early in the month.
The commander of the Montauk Coast Guard Station, Chief Petty Officer Jim Weber, has been temporarily relieved of his command after a picture of a 47í boat he was operating during one of this summers passing hurricanes appeared in Newsday. The problem is that the chief had not been re-certified to operate that particular boat in surf conditions. It was a pretty dramatic shot, but according to the photographer Thomas Coller, the foreshortening of the shot caused it to look more dangerous than it was, and the boat was not actually in the surf but in swells further offshore. The chief is considered very highly by the fishing community and has had an outpouring of support.
If you have always wanted to fish at Tropic Star Lodge in Panama but were never able to plan ahead the year in advance that is usually required to book a winter trip there, now is the time to act. They have been coming up with occasional cancellations, including one in mid January. If you are interested, give me a call, ASAP.
Columbus Day weekend couldnít have been better, with gorgeous weather, probably the best of the year. The town was jammed up for the Clam Chowder contest and all the festivities associated with it. I had to wait for someone else to leave their parking spot before I could park and get the mail. With no boat in the water, I took a spin past the lighthouse to see what it looked like on the water. There were about 15 cars waiting to pay the parking fee at the parking lot and the area around Great Eastern had more boats than Iíve seen all year. And, they were all catching stripers, with a lot of big ones. Life was good.
There are finally some falsies around, but not in the numbers we have become accustomed to. Then the weekend was over, and everything went to hell, and nobody has been able to get out for six days now.
Surfcasters have been doing OK though, with the sand beaches behind town loaded with small blues and bass, and the sharpies catching the bigger ones down at the Point.
The standings in the Locals contest are as follows;
Mike Milano - 50.52 lbs - 10/15
Matt Vega - 37.04 lbs - 10/14
Gary Krist - 36.20 lbs - 10/7
Wet Suit Division
John Bruno - 41.89 lbs
Mary Ellen Kang - 23.42 lbs - 10/13
Ben McCarron - 26.72 lbs - 10/12
This may have been the final straw that gets a lot of New Yorkís recreational anglers to start treating the fishery regs the same as 55 mph on the LIE. The feds closed seabass in their waters starting today for six months. Most states, including New York have decided not to go along with them, although they did close the commercial fishing. This means that you will no longer be able to fish for seabass outside of Frisbies to the south, east of the west end of the main Midway Rip, roughly 14639, or at North Grounds or Pocketbook to the north. Most of the seabass grounds of Block Island are OK, except for parts of Southwest Ledge. But, here is the kicker. Party and charterboats are required to have federal permits to fish in federal waters (private boats donít need them, nor do they want them), and by having those permits, they need to abide by the federal regulations, even in state waters. That is going to put a huge hole in the pocket of a lot of guys trying to make a living as the season dies down.
Apparently the saltwater license reciprocity has a caveat as applied to New York and Connecticut. It only applies in common waters, namely Long Island Sound. That means that any Connecticut boat that comes over to the Montauk area to fish will need to have everyone onboard with a non-resident New York license.
I think everyone will agree that this summer the weather was lousy. However, what has been just as bad or worse is that the weather forecasts have been especially crappy as well, often predicting winds that never get here causing fishing trips to be canceled unnecessarily. This became more evident to me on Saturday night, which happened to be the full moon. A weekend in October with a full moon, but with a forecast of 15-20 plus gusts. The Point should have been swarming with boats, but there was only the Viking and four boats, us included, all out commercially fishing.
As far as the fishing is concerned, the bass fishing couldnít be much better, with plenty of fish and some very nice ones, like the 58 pounder that Frank Schultz caught on the HERLS GIRL. They are being caught trolling with the Ďchutes or on live eels, with some bluefish around but not enough to be a big problem.
The head boats are still catching some fluke, but a lot more seabass are being caught, which starting tomorrow will be off limits. And, the porgie season closes next week.
Good news. You can finally get your 2009 New York State Saltwater Fishing License online. I just did it. Go to the DEC website and follow the links. That was close. For a while it didnít seem that the licenses would be available in time.
The tuna are still hanging around the Mudhole, but not so many giants. A couple of charterboats fishing there on Saturday caught seven and two fish each between sixty and eighty pounds.
Inshore the striped bass fishing is just OK right now. Each day some boats get their limits while others have to scratch around for only a couple of fish, and they vary from just keepers to forty pounds or so. Hopefully it will improve soon. I still have 200 tags to use.
The Fisherman magazines annual Montauk Classic was held over the weekend. The results are as follows;
John Stebbins - 42.20 lbs
Mike Byrnes 26.28 lbs
Bill Wetzel - 25.04 lbs
Joe Brodman - 19.20 lbs
Eric Nicoll - 18.66 lbs
Steve Snyder 12.26 lbs
Mike Byrnes 10.28 lbs
Jim Callahan - 9.58 lbs
Andy Richman - 9.18 lbs
John Goode - 9.16 lbs
The guy who owns the boat that I run has left for the year, so Iím pulling it out this week. Iíll keep posting reports, but Iím going to be spending a lot more time working on fishing trips to Central America. If youíre interested, get in touch.
Two weeks ago I stated that I wasnít going to write about tuna anymore this year. Well, that was then and this is now. This past week the giants bit in the Mudhole. On Wednesday 15-20 were taken. Then on Thursday maybe five were caught. I donít know about Thursday, but as far as I know none have been taken since then even though there were around 125 boats fishing there on Saturday and Sunday. The fish were probably hanging around down deep slurping up all the bait that was raining down on them. Iím sure there are some boats there now, and maybe things will be a little different with fewer boats.
There is stuff going on with the New York legislature trying to adjust the saltwater license fiasco. It is aimed at either allowing the licenses that are purchased this year to run through 2010, or to change the starting date to January 1, instead of October 1, as it is now. I bet nothing changes.
Inshore the fishing is just great except for the lack of falsies. Even the fluke fishing is holding up, unlike the past couple of years when it started to drop off by late August. And, the headboats with the special permits are loving it, carrying way better than they would be without the fluke.
There was an offshore tournament geared to Topaz owners this past weekend, but nobody showed up. It was originally set for back in August, but got hurricaned out and was changed to this weekend. The Marine Basin has had one of these tournaments on the books for the last three years, the first two with Old Harbor Outfitters, and each time it was blown out
Paulies Tackle Shop held a surf casters contest over the weekend and the results are as follows;
John Bruno - 32.06 lbs
Steve Dilara - 31.36 lbs
Justin Cassar - 27.92 lbs
Rick Girzadas - 11.18 lbs
Frank Mercurio - 10.90 lbs
Dave Haase - 10.38 lbs
Next weekend is the Fisherman magazines annual Montauk Classic. You can sign up at Paulies.
Another weekend with a screwed up forecast resulted in boats sitting on Saturday instead of fishing. The blow on Thursday and Friday crapped out Friday night and instead of 15 knots on Saturday with four to six we had 0 knots and flat seas, and the bass were still there.
The bottom fishing is holding up well for the fluke, seabass and porgies. For the last couple of years the fluke fishing started to die out in late August, but this year it just keeps on. Do you think the fact that there are only the headboats fishing them makes a difference?
The falsies havenít shown up at The Point like I thought they would. Maybe because there is hardly any of the small baitfish that they like around. There are an awful lot of them offshore though.
Shark fishing wasnít hurt by the blow. Instead those mammoth fall bluesharks started appearing; the kind that take an hour or more to get to the boat. There are still makos around as well.
Next weekend starts the fall surfcasting tournaments. Paulies Tackle Shop hosts one and the Locals tournament that runs until December starts.
There is also an offshore tournament geared to Topaz owners next weekend run out of the Montauk Marine Basin.
All the charterboats got ďDear Charterboat OwnerĒ letters from the DEC on Saturday. It included a form they HAVE to fill out when they send in their $400 for the saltwater license that is needed staring October 1. It allows them to carry unlicensed anglers. The rest of you have to buy your own individual license. From what I read, the license is for the calendar year, but will expire on December 31. To me, that should mean that since this yearís license only covers three months, the fee should only be $100. But what do I know?
I think the summer is done, or at least whatever there was of it. The mornings are cool and it seems like there usually a little cool breeze or slight gale happening. Sunday was pretty crappy on the inshore grounds, and more so offshore. Itís that time of year when the charterboats start to come up with an attitude adjustment when it comes to wind. What was too much in August, isnít really that bad now.
Unless there is some sort of a slight miracle, this is probably the last you will hear from me about tuna. Right now wherever you go you might be able to catch some falsies, and maybe, if you are very lucky a small bluefin. Charterboats with tuna trips are doing what we used to call shunering. Aim for the place they would like to shark fish, and before they get there troll some plastics for a while before setting up their slick. But, no matter what kind of trip it was booked as, make sure they carry the chum. Like we used to say about bluefish when the bass stocks were down, ďThank God for sharksĒ.
Inshore the bass fishing has picked up some over the past week, but there are still lots of bluefish around to complicate things. Bottom fishing for porgies, seabass and fluke remains steady.
The falsies are starting to show up in Gardinersís Bay, so it wonít be long now before we have in influx of flycasters around The Point.
Danny Boy blew past on Saturday and like Bill, wasnít what it was supposed to be. We had a lot of rain, but no wind at all, which meant that most of the charters that were canceled could have sailed, although they would have gotten wet. But the fish donít mind; theyíre wet anyway. The boat I run is tied up at Devon Yacht Club, back in the southwest corner of Gardinerís Bay, and is a horrible place when there is a bit of a northerly breeze. Itís mainly a sailboat place and many of those left for a safer harbor. I just added a couple of bumpers and figured on staying with the boat through the worst of it. On Saturday I never even bothered to drive down to check on it.
The striped bass fishing has gotten a little delicate over the past week. A sure sign of that came when on Friday I saw a couple of charterboats from Montauk on halfday trips fishing at Southwest Ledge. That means they steamed three times the distance (and fuel) that they would normally do. Sunday there was an explosion of bluefish at the Point that added to the difficulties.
Fluke season is over, but so many of the partyboats have the RFA permits, that itís worth talking about. Itís great, especially over at Block Island where some of the all day boats are fishing. The permits allow four fish at twenty inches instead of two fish at twenty-one inches. And, judging by the cars in the parking lots, it seems that the partyboats are carrying better now than when the season was open. Itís amazing what more liberal limits will do for the business.
Offshore the tuna fishing is a mess. There continue to be scattered reports of boats catching tuna, but nothing anywhere is consistent and ďhere today, gone tomorrowĒ seems to apply. Many of the charterboats with tuna trips are spending a little time trolling and then breaking out the chum. Thankfully the shark fishing continues to be pretty good, although it would be nice if there were a few more keeper makos around instead of the pups.
The charterboat economy isnít bad enough. Now we have Big Bad Bill come through on an August weekend and scare away half the clients. The forecast mentioned ten to twelve foot waves, but didnít say anything about the waves coming through at the rate of about four per minute. Inshore Friday the conditions were worse than anything that Bill brought us. On the flood tide in the mornings everything was fine. On the ebb in the afternoon the waves were stood up a bit, but it was still fishable almost anywhere. Offshore was probably a different situation, but it might have been doable as well. Weíll never know.
The surfers were happy though. The six oíclock news said there were two thousand surfers here in Montauk. I donít know how accurate that figure is, but there were a lot. Especially on the north side, where it looked like there were at least fifty in the water at any given time.. And the conditions looked perfect, nice clean, big waves, with no chop and spread far apart.
Shark fishing is steady, with everybody that tries it catching a couple of bluesharks and maybe an exotic like a small mako, big tiger or big dusky. No long runs needed. Twelve miles out in any direction will do it.
Tuna are a different story. The most consistent action has been around the 450 line to the south for smaller yellowfins, but that is based on a small sampling, since hardly anyone is booking long range tuna trips this year. But it seems that anyone who goes there catches a couple of fish. Going for bigger game out at the edge is less sure. Bluefin, on the other hand are all over the place. Every day you hear about someone catching a couple at 600/800, the Acid Barge, the Fairway Buoy, the Mudhole, Coxes Ledge, south of Coxes or various place around the Dump. What you donít hear much about is all the boats that go to those same places and donít get a sniff, and there are a lot more of those than there are of the lucky ones.
Fluke season is closed, but all of the all day partyboats have those research permits. Originally there were only a couple of them, but even though they were sold out by December, somehow the remainder of the boats came up with them and they are carrying pretty good. At the end of the day though it is hard to see how they are making any money. The clients are allowed four fish at twenty inches, and it is fairly easy to catch a limit of those. So itís easy to imagine the clients each catching twelve pounds of fish each, (and there are fish of seven and eight pounds caught daily) which comes to $36 the boat has to pay back to Uncle Sam, or whoever gets the money. So, everybody is sailing for about half price. Maybe Iím missing something.
Hereís a helpful hint for any of you who have been pestered by those tiny ants finding their way into your kitchen, courtesy of the old wives of Guatemala. Put about a teaspoon of sugar in a saucer and add enough water to surround it. In about a day they will be gone and youíll never see them again.
OK, time to put away your fancy spinners, silver bullets etc, because as of midnight tonight if you want to eat fluke youíll have to dig it out of your freezer or head on down to the fish store and but it. Apparently the DEC is aware that the season is closing too, because earlier in the week, they had a couple of guys on the MARLIN PRINCESS and MISS MONTAUK. When they got back to the dock they started writing out the summonses for short fluke. There were a total of 53 written for 60 short fluke to the anglers, captains and mates.
Offshore the tuna fishing has been disappointing to say the least. Over at the Mudhole or south of Block Island there are bluefins, and if you spend enough time trolling around you will most likely see them jumping around and waving their asses at you, not in big bunches, but one here and one there. If you are in the right place, at the right time, dragging the right stuff behind your boat, and the right tuna comes along, you might catch one. But that is a lot of the ďright stuffĒ.
Meanwhile the yellowfins out near the edge are in a similar state, except that you donít see much of them. The right place seems to be around the 450 line, where boats spending the day are catching a couple of fish a trip. The Edge seems quieter.
Shark fishing is good enough, and you can expect to catch a couple of bluesharks a trip with a good shot at a mako or two, But the makos might be on the small size. Or maybe just big enough. Most of the makos are east of the Butterfish Hole and north of the 750 line, so at least you donít have to spend much on fuel.
That was a pretty nice weekend for September.
Right now it seems like you can go mako fishing instead of just plain shark fishing. There are that many around. Of course many are on the small size, but there are enough keeper size too. The Star Island Mako-Thresher Mania was held over the weekend, with 57 boats competing. There were 26 makos weighed in along with 4 threshers, plus most of the boats that didnít weigh in anything had encounters with smaller makos. The results are as follows;
Overall Winner & 1st Place Mako - 331 lbs - Capt Jane
2nd Place Mako - 198 lbs - Mako Wish
3rd Place Mako - 196 lbs - Main Squeeze
1st Place Thresher - 274 lbs - Tuna Tangler
2nd Place Thresher - 242 lbs - Sweetie
3rd Place Thresher - 196 lbs - Tuna Tangler
Further offshore the yellowfins are fairly consistent although on the small size around the 400 line. Further out on the edge there are better size fish but fewer, along with occasional marlin, mahi and wahoo. There was a real hot bigeye bite at the Hudson early in the week with a couple of boats bringing back a half dozen fish. But it only lasted a couple of days.
Itís hard for me to get reports on the tuna action because almost none of the charter boats are getting any tuna trip bookings. I know of only one boat that has gone for the long run so far this season. There are probably a couple of others that Iím unaware of, but itís another indication of how poor the charter business is these days. I stopped by Star Island this morning on the way for my bagel and there was only one charter boat out.
Inshore the live scup & spots were working well, maybe too well, all week. On Saturday it looked like there were 50 or so boats drifting Great Eastern, but the catches dropped off a bit. But it is still worth the effort.
If you are into fluke, youíd better fish fast. The season is going to end next Monday. At this time of year there is usually a real good bite of decent sized fish down around Gurneys, but so far it hasnít developed. It looks like it will probably be over before it gets started.
Iím a day late with this thanks to a last minute decision to leave on an early trip. And, Iím not anal enough to get up at 3:00 am to write this.
Overall fishing is pretty good, with the best of it the striped bass. If you want to catch big bass, August is THE time to do it. The fall run is great, but for the last several years the most consistent fishing for big bass has been in August. Everything works, but for the big guys the big tube or live bait is the preferred method. The parachutes and umbrellas will catch their share, but also the smaller fish.
The porgies are working especially well for the stripers, but it has at least one of the charterboat guys a little POíd. Over the weekend he watched a guy in a small boat hooking up on bait just about every drift, which is fine. What wasnít too cool was watching the guy culling up, reaching into his cooler to ďreleaseĒ a smaller fish each time he caught a larger one. Then the fish would backstroke itís way down tide.
Fluke fishing is still steady, but lots and lots of shorts, with few keepers in between. I havenít seen any of the charter boats coming back with fluke on their all day trips. After catching their limits of bass, it seems like most are switching over to the seabass instead.
Offshore the shark fishing remains steady with more smaller makos showing up. One charterboat had three of the ďtoenail clipperí variety on Friday. I did hear of the first ďShark DummyĒ on Saturday, so it is not a sure thing.
Star Island has itís Mako Mania tournament this weekend. It will be interesting to see how many boats sign up for it, since all of the earlier contests were much smaller than in previous years.
Locally, some bluefins have been sighted east of the Butterfish Hole and inside the 750 line. But virtually nobody is fishing for them except maybe a half hour or so before setting up a shark slick.
Further offshore the yellowfin bite has slowed down quite a bit, at least going by Sundayís results when a lot of boats caught none, and the few that caught fish all had to measure them.
Not a lot of change to report this week.
The shark fishing remains steady, with most boats releasing a half dozen or so bluesharks, with some catching makos and a very occasional threshers. Most of them seem to have migrated further east along with most of the bluesharks.
Out at the Tails there is a steady pick of yellowfins ranging from just keeper size up to 60 pounds or so. Some marlin have started to show up as well. Most of the action is inside on the flats.
Inshore the bass fishing is getting better every week, at least based on the size of fish being caught. some of the charter boats have switched over to the big tubes and bringing back only thirty pound and better fish. The umbrellas and parachutes are catching more but smaller fish. The porgies are working fairly well too.
Fluke are still the same. Lots of fish to cull through in order to catch dinner.
It feels like summer is finally here. I opened my bedroom windows this week.
The waters are warming up and the bluesharks have started to move eastward. You can still expect to catch a couple each day, but not a dozen. The threshers are steady, but the makos are still a little on the scarce side. Most of the boats are fishing on the east side of the Butterfish Hole and seeing plenty of whales, birds & bait. And every once in a while someone catches a fifty pound bluefin. But not many boats are putting an effort into the tuna.
Most of the boats interested in tuna are running out toward the edge where there is a steady, in not spectacular pick of yellowfins and mahi. The cull is getting better, and if you are lucky you catch fish in the 40-50 pound range. If luck isnít with you, you need a ruler. Most of the action is a couple of miles inside the Tails, but a couple of nice size bigeyes have been taken in the deep.
Inshore the striped bass fishing is as good as it gets with a wide range of sizes being taken up to 40 pounds or so. The best action is on the umbrellas or diamond jigs as the fish are happily eating sandeels, of which there are plenty. So much so that a lot of the fishing is taking place around the herds of shearwaters also eating the sandeels.
Fluke fishing is good, but you still have to catch a lot of shorts in order to catch a limit of keepers. Seabass fishing is also better than normal, with no real problems with the dogfish. West Grounds is good for the seabass.
The family of Capt Bob (Bobby Dawn) Tuma will be having an estate sale July 25th and 26th. Items included are tackle, a lot of it collectible. Please contact his daughter Wendy at 631 668-2357.
Shark fishing is more typical of mid June than mid July. Water temperatures are in the low to mid sixties and there are bluesharks up the whazoo, maybe too many. Threshers are being caught daily and makos are pretty scarce. Plus, there have been at least two porbeagles caught and possibly a third. But the makos that are being caught are mostly under 200 pounds, whereas in a normal year the first makos that show up are usually larger fish.
The MBCA held their shark tournament over the weekend and the results were pretty impressive, especially when you consider there were only thirty boats entered. There were fifteen sharks weighed in, nine threshers, five blues and one mako. The results are as follows;
1st place - Tuna Tangler Too - Blueshark - 387 lbs
2nd place - Maria E - Thresher - 332 lbs
3rd place - Our Lady - Blueshark - 327 lbs
The second place fish was weighed in at noon on Saturday and the winner was weighed in five minutes before closing on Sunday.
Locally, I guess there are some bluefin tuna around, but you have to be pretty dedicated to fish for them as you are more than likely to come back dry. Offshore there are yellowfins near The Edge, mostly on the flats, but most are pretty small with only occasional fifty pounders being caught, along with some nice sized mahi, but you have to find the right piece of debris for them.
Inshore the fluke fishing is pretty good with lots of shorts but enough keepers to make it worthwhile. Youíll have to do a lot of catching, but you could wind up with a thirteen pound flattie like the one taken on the Marlin Princess.
The striped bass cull is getting better as well with bigger fish showing up every day. Forty pound fish are becoming more common with lots of twenties around to top off the box. If you like to use the scup for bait, but hate going through the drill of finding the barely legal ones, or worrying that the sub legals that you have in the well will wind up getting you bit by the guy in green, Star Island has just the thing for you. Theyíve imported a bunch of spot from the Carolinas and are selling them for around $5 a pop. There is no size limit on them and they are much more slurpable than the legal porgies.
Every morning I take a tour around the docks to see who has sailed. Before July 1, during the week there were rarely more than a half dozen charters out. Then on July 1, with the opening of the commercial bass season, that all changed, with lots of boats getting out. The price for bass started out at 44/pound, but sine has dropped to around $2/pound, so now itís back to only a couple of boats getting out.
Well, the fluke season is open again and there are plenty of fluke around, just not very many that you can eat, unless you cheat. I donít know that the couple of boats that had the special permit and were able to fish through the closure gained very much. The weather for the most part was crappy. The boats that didnít have the permit fished for porgies, seabass or diamond jigged bass and blues and didnít carry as well as the permitted boats, but they didnít have to pay $3/pound for every fluke their fares caught.
Striped bass fishing is great, but like the fluke, there are an awful lot of shorts around. But, you can work your way through or around them and come up with a limit without much problem. Some boats have started with the live porgies, but the most effective way of catching the bass is still dragging the wire.
Offshore the shark fishing is pretty steady with enough bluesharks to provide action and more threshers showing up every day. Makos are still fairly scarce though. There was one shark taken early in the week that has to be considered a super exotic. A 170 something pound porbeagle was taken from east of the Butterfish Hole. Those things are a cold water shark and back in the days when they werenít an unusual catch they were usually caught in May when the mackerel came through.
Next weekend (Saturday & Sunday) is the MBCA Charity shark tournament at Star Island. Stop by and buy a tee shirt or something. The proceeds go to scholarships for local kids.
The Butterfish Hole has more whales in it than Iíve seen in twenty or so years. Saturday on the East Bank I could look around and see six to eight at any time doing something practically all day long. After I drifted past 14600 or so I was out of them. There are some bluefin there as well, but they doesnít seem to be any real concentration. I heard of a couple of 40-50 pound fish being taken.
I have been away for the last couple of days, so I donít have much for you today except for the results of the Marine Basin tournament.
The weather was great, but the quality of the fish caught kind of sucked. Itís enough to make me change my mind about going after sharks today. On Friday only three bluesharks were weighed in and none of them qualified. As a result, the weight requirement for bluesharks was dropped to 200 pounds for Saturday. On Saturday, only four sharks were entered, two blues and two threshers. The results are as follows;
1st place - 388 lbs thresher - GLADIATOR
2nd place - 274 lbs blueshark - CRACK OAR
3rd place - 224 lbs blueshark - TUNA KAHUNA
The forecast was pretty crappy for the Star Island Shark Tournament, but I donít think thatís the only reason that the number of participants dropped down to 127 boats. In past years it would have 225 -250 or so boats. Last year there were 190 some in it. The economy is really putting a hurting on every aspect of the recreational fishing business. Every day I take a tour of the docks to see who is out, and during the week it is pretty depressing. In past years Iíd wind up getting out of the pickup and BSing a little, but this year there arenít even any guys hanging around doing boatwork. With all the free time theyíve had, theyíve done it all.
The results are as follows;
Heaviest shark - 369 lbs thresher - RUNAWAY
1st place mako - 227 lbs - SEA WIFE IV
2nd place mako - 197 lbs - SANDRA JEANNE
3rd place mako - 136 lbs - THREE OF A KIND
1st place blueshark - 227 lbs - LADY FIN
No other bluesharks brought in
1st place thresher - 369 lbs - RUNAWAY
2nd place thresher - 289 lbs - FREEDOM
3rd place thresher - 287 lbs - FISHERMAN II
Next weekend the Montauk Marine Basin is holding their shark tournament.
I hadnít heard of any local bluefin sightings from the shark boats, but it would have been hard to see any with the conditions, but I did hear of some being caught along with some longfins out at 50 fathoms earlier in the week.
Inshore the bass fishing is still kind of delicate, with some off the charterboats running over to the Ledge to get their limits. Around the Point there are plenty of shorts and some occasional 30-40 pound fish, but standard sized keepers require a lot of catching and culling.
It seems like the doggie population has dropped off a bit. I got out to Rocky Hill for an hour or so one day and only caught two along with enough seabass to make it worthwhile.
The weather guy keeps coming through on the weekends. Now it would be nice if he could get organized for the mid-week a little. After all it is summer time.
Striped bass fishing is starting to get a little delicate. All day trips are getting their limits, but half day boats are struggling. I was out bottom fishing Saturday and could tell it was getting tough just by the spacing of the charter boats. Only seeing one boat fishing any of the normal hot spots is a sure sign.
Fluke fishing is not red hot, but if you work at it you can get your limit of keepers. But, so what? The season is about to close for a couple of weeks, so unless you fish on one of the boats that has the special permit, it doesnít make any difference. The BLUEFIN IV, MARLIN PRINCESS and VIKING are the only boats that will be able to fluke fish while the season is shut down.
If you think that the seabass will take the place of the fluke, think again. If you want to catch seabass, you will have to fight your way through the doggies. The LAZYBONES will be diamond jigging until the season re-opens on July 3.
Offshore there are plenty of bluesharks, but I have yet to hear about any exotics. But, there are so few boats fishing that there could be lots of makos and threshers swimming around out there looking for chum slicks, but they just canít find them. Next weekend is the Star Island Tournament, so that should produce some.
There are some bluefins out there as well. Iíve heard about them being as close as the 700 line and as far out as forty fathoms, but I havenít heard much about anyone catching them.
I have to compliment whoever is in charge of weather scheduling. The last two weeks it was crappy all week, but very nice on the weekend. Usually itís the other way around.
When the fluke season opened up, nobody cared about the new regs because the fishing was so good and it wasnít necessary to keep a ruler handy. If a fish wasnít 5 or 6 pounds, throw it back. Now the situation is different. There are plenty of fluke being caught, but keepers are getting scarce. You can still catch a limit of eaters, but you have to work at pretty hard. Most of the boats are fishing east and north of the Point. A lot of doggies in the deeper water of the south side probably has something to do with that.
Striped bass fishing is as steady as it gets, with lots of fish being caught, most of them keepers. The charterboats have been coming back with their limits without much problem, with a lot of the fish they are bringing back in the fifteen to twenty pound range, with occasional fish of thirty pounds or so. Bluefish are around, some days more than others, but not really a problem.
A couple of charterboats have gone out for sharks, and have caught some blues. Forty fathoms seems like a sure thing, but they are probably closer in than that as well. The water temps are between fifty-five and sixty degrees, so it wonít be a surprise if someone catches a thresher this week, if enough boats get out.
The recession in the charter business seems to be going away. Now itís starting to seem more like a depression, with most boats getting out on Saturday, maybe three-quarters of the boats getting out on Sunday and only a handful getting out during the week. The cars parked in back of the head boats indicates the same for them.
Last week I mentioned that the Concerned Citizens of Montauk had gotten a lot of biodegradable balloons for the Blessing of the Fleet next week. Well, I got an e-mail from the head balloon monitor letting me know that the balloons arenít biodegradable enough. I guess word will get out by the weekend whether the town will cave in again or let it slide.
Next weekend is 6th Annual Montauk Harbor and Jazz Festival Weekend. It starts on Friday with the Annual Harbor Festival ďOld Timers DinnerĒ at the Montauk Yacht Club at 7:00 pm, where eight renowned Montauk Fisherman will be honored. Tickets are $35.00 and available at the Montauk Chamber. For more info call 631-668-2428 or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The easterly breezes all week put a bit of a damper on the fluke fishing. They donít like it too much when the top of the water is going up and down too much. Still on Saturday there were quite a few boats stretched out from the Point to the IGA. Sunday afternoon when I drove down the hill into the village from the west I didnít see a single boat. Apparently they had all moved to the east and north side, but didnít find a lot of keepers there. There were some doggie reports one day, but none the next.
Striped bass fishing is excellent even though at times the boats had to cull through a lot of shorts to take their limit.
Thereís good news for the Blessing of the Fleet participants. Last year some eco-nuts, concerned about turtles diets, put pressure on the town to curtail the water balloons that are always a big part of the after blessing festivities, and word was passed that anyone caught playing could wind up with an invitation to court. This year the Concerned Citizens of Montauk has come up with a couple thousand biodegradable balloons which will be available at Snug Harbor. As an aside, years ago when we were catching tuna within spitting distance of the Point, I dressed out a couple of tuna that had eaten balloons, but they were so deteriorated by the digestion process that I couldnít even pick them up. Iíd grab a piece between my thumb and forefinger, but all I could pick up was the little piece between my fingers. the rest of the balloon stayed stuck to the fishes stomach.
Pump it yourself regular at Marshallís is now $3.05.9.
Memorial Day weekend seemed pretty busy in Montauk, until I went down to the docks. At Star Island on Saturday only two charter boats got out and on Monday, none of them sailed. I didnít get there on Sunday, but I doubt that many got out that day either. Party boats did a little better, at least going by the number of cars in their parking lots, but during the week most of them are sailing pretty light.
Fluke fishing could hardly be any better. Who cares if the regs hold you to a 21Ē size limit when there are so many five and six pounders around? last weekend all the boats were fishing south of the Radar Stand, but now they are spread out a little more, with some as far west as the IGA
Bass fishing is boringly good. I could probably write this part of the report for weeks on end. There are plenty of keepers around with many in the fifteen to twenty pound range, and an occasional thirty pound fish being brought back. Most are being caught on the good old chartreuse parachute. The bluefish seem to have thinned out.
I always put the boat that I run all summer in the water the week before Memorial Day. This weekend I was shocked to
realize that is this week, the earliest possible weekend for Memorial Day. And, it still feels like April.
Bass fishing is in fine shape, with the few (actually very few) charter boats that have been getting out catching their limits
of eight to fifteen pound fish, with an occasional twenty pounder. There are also plenty of bluefish, which on some days
were hard to avoid. On other days they stayed south of the Elbow, out of everyoneís way. I donít like to hear about lots of
bluefish. I believe that our area can only support a certain amount of fish. When there are too many bluefish there will be
fewer bass, and vice versa.
The fluke action is hot, with lots of half inch shy fish being taken, but also a good supply of doormats, including one over
twelve pounds that was taken on the MARLIN PRINCESS this week. As is usually the case this time of year practically
all of the action is on the south side between the Point and the Radar Stand.
I was speaking to a charter guy who runs a dragger all winter about fluke. New York regs allowed a 300 pound per trip
limit on fluke all winter, now reduced to 50 pounds per trip. The boat he ran also had a permit to fish out of New Jersey,
which had a 5000 pound per week limit. He would steam sixteen hours to Barneget, leave to go fishing out of there and
run sixteen hours to a spot thirty miles south of the Point where he would fish for a couple of hours until he had his 5000
pounds and then run back to Barneget to pack out. Maybe that will give you an idea of how New York got screwed on
the recreational regs for fluke, which were based on commercial landings.
The fishing season in Montauk has officialy started. (All that codfish stuff was the offseason or maybe pre-season).
On Saturday a couple of charterboats had half day trips, and both caught stripers and bluefish. The bass were nothing to write home about, a mixture of shorts and eight to ten pounders. But you have to start somewhere. Iím willing to bet that by next weekend there will be a fair amount of twelve to fifteen pound fish being caught. That is if any boats are booked. The effects of the economy are being felt in the bookings.
But, the economy doesnít seem to be helping the traffic too much. This past week I had to go up-island in the morning. The wideening of the road from the end of Sunrise to McDonalds helped a lot. But now the traffic is backed up from the Watermill Wiggle almost to the railroad tracks
The MARLIN PRINCESS made itís first fluke trip on Saturday. The conditions were pretty yucky, but still a handfull of guys braved it out and caught some fluke, a mixture of shorts and keepers. The fluke season officially starts on this Friday, but Captain Eddie got one of those scientific fluke set asides, which means he can fish during thr closed season, with a four fish per person, twenty inch size limit. A couple of boats scored these permits back in December because they knew that the regs were going to be more stringent this year than last with the hope that they would be able to salvage a little bit extra out of their season. When the DEC came up with the new regs with a split season, it looked like a home run for the few boats that are participating in this scientific exercise. But apparently there was a lot of complaints received about the unfair advantage these boats would have over their competitors, so now they are not going to be able to fish during the mid season closure, just before and after the opening and closing dates.
Here I am boys and girls, crawling out of the wintertime cave. The daffodils are coming out along with the forsythia, and itís time to start talking about the Montauk fishing scene. Itís been a lousy winter for me, but those of you who love fishing with frozen snot on your noses are probably still giggling with joy over the codfishing that took place from late January into early March. Of course that doesnít do much for you now, since the fishing has been pretty slow for a while now.
The fluke regs are now cast in stone. The season will be open from May 15 to June 15 and again from July 3 to August 17, with a two fish per person bag limit at twenty-one inches long. And, if you think that is bad, wait until next year. It will be worse.
Here is my assessment of how we arrived at this point in the fluke fiasco; Once upon a time, the commercial draggers found out where the fluke spent their winter vacations and proceeded to pound away at them until there were so few left that regulations had to be put in place to protect them The powers that be came up with a number of fish that they determined somehow to be how many fish should exist, and then had to come up with some regs to accomplish that goal. The first step was to divide the fluke pie between commercial and recreational interests. Before the pounding took place, fluke were primarily a recreational fish, but it was decided that 60% of the pie should go to the commercial interests and 40% to the recreational side. This was because it was determined by the ďbest available scienceĒ that the commercials were landing 60% of the fluke. Of course the commercials were catching more fluke because they had almost wiped out the fluke before they got inshore where the recreationals could catch any. And, there were hard numbers attesting to the commercial landings while the best that they could come up with for the recreational side was a wild-ass guess. That was the first stage of the screwing we got. And, there is no way that division is ever going to change,
Next they had to decide how to divide up the recreational pie by state. Here is where New York got screwed. Thanks to our states fuel taxes, we pay considerably more for fuel than Connecticut, Rhode Island and New Jersey. As a result, New your draggers that fished 60-70 miles offshore for the fluke found it economical to pack out in the neighboring states where they could buy much cheaper fuel. Here were some hard numbers that could be used to determine each stateís share of the fluke. Of course commercial landings had no bearing whatsoever on recreational landings, but the good old ďbest science availableĒ came into play. There were no recreational numbers other than wild-ass guesses, and that isnít science. In order for this to change, all the other states have to vote to reduce their quota in order to increase New Yorkís quota. If that ever happens, those guys from all the other states better move to New York, because it isnít going to be safe for them to go home. There is currently a lawsuit being pressed to force the powers that be to come up with one set of regs that will cover all the states, but in reality if that were to happen, it would be as unfair to all the other states as the current regs are to New York. The larger fluke are mostly in their eastern range, and we here in Montauk, can put up with a larger size limit than they can in Virginia or even at the western end of the island.
Here is where the new fishing license that we are all going to wind up with can make a difference. When all the states have a salt water fishing license, there will finally be some ďbest available scienceĒ to determine how many recreational anglers exist in each state, and thereby determine how the fluke pie should be divided. Will that happen? Your guess is as good as mine, but it seems like a reasonable solution to me. Now here is something else that may frost the old huevos. Right off the top of the fluke, pie three percent (approximately 500,000 pounds) has been removed for scientific research under something called the Research Set-aside Program. This covers fluke, seabass and porgies, but right now Iím only talking about fluke. Someone applies for this program in the same way that a scientist would apply to the government for a research grant and is awarded the grant allowing it to take a certain amount of pounds of fish outside of the existing regulations. Apparently, or maybe allegedly is a better term, the National Fisheries Institute, which is the lobbying arm of the commercial fishing industry in Washington, has been given control over a certain amount of the research piece of the pie and, they have been auctioning it off. In other words, a boat owner bids on x amount of pounds of fluke, pays his money and is allowed to catch those fish whenever he wants regardless of the seasons. The draggers have been the main beneficiaries of this program ever since itís inception, but now things have changed, and a number of party and charter boats have latched onto it. They had to pay $1000 to enlist in the program and have bid as high as $3.00/pound for every fluke that they want to catch outside the regs. Before this year the going rate was less than $1.00/pound.
So, now when the fluke season shuts down on June 15, these boats are going to be able to legally put a big sign by their boats that state ďFLUKE NOWĒ, while their neighbors sit and wonder where all their fares went, Actually they probably wonít have to wonder very long, because theyíll be able to wave to them as they board those winning bidderís boats. A skeptic might wonder who is keeping track of the amount of set-aside fish that each boat is taking. It is an honor (or maybe dishonor) system, much like income tax. You tell the government how much income you have and then pay your taxes based on that. These boats have to report when they leave the dock, when they return and how many pounds of fluke they caught. And, we all know that nobody ever cheats on their taxes, right.
Iíll start posting reports regularly in early May when things start to get more exciting.
I wish I had the parking concession for the Viking area. Except for one day this week when it blew, there have been more cars parked there than I have ever seen in my life, at any time of year. And, itís all the cod fishís fault. There are too may of them and they are all hungry.
The fishing is unreal. The Viking started out the end of January planning to run on Friday, Saturday and Sundays, but now both boats are sailing every day, railed. Donít have a reservation? Donít bother to come out. There is no room for you. Montauk has even had to import a boat, the ROSIE from Moriches is sailing out of the MARLIN PRINCESS slip, also railed.
A friend e-mailed me about ten days or so ago. He wanted to go out on the Viking, but it was fully booked, so I told him to give CAPT MARK a call. At this time of year he will sail on an open boat basis if he doesnít have a charter. He checked with Mark and booked a day later this month, the only date he had available until St Patrickís Day (the real one, not the parade Sunday).
I have been putting these reports out throughout the season since 1995. I went back and checked, and this is the first time I ever posted one in February. That will give you an idea of how good the codfishing is.
I addition to the boats mentioned above, The MISS MONTAUK and MARLIN V, both open boats are sailing as are the VIVIENNE and LORY JAY, both six pack boats.
The auction for the CRICKET came and went without a qualifying bid, although someone offered $40,000 for it. Apparently a sail is being negotiated. But now Henry Uhlein is trying to put a deal together with the town of East Hampton to buy it for $45,000, and put it on display at the entrance to the harbor area. Itís a good idea, but maybe not workable.
If you finally realized that the financial mess hasnít cut into you yet and you can afford to go fishing somewhere this winter, give me a call. Fishing is hot in Guatemala, Costa Rica and Panama. In fact, Tropic Star Lodge in Panama continues to come up with cancellations. Itís a fantastic place, and if you have the $$$ and want the fishing adventure of a lifetime Itís a great choice.