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July 12, 2006

Gone Fishin'


Bountiful Bluefish

Everyone out fishing our local waters is very aware of the bluefish that frequently appear in great abundance. Bluefish, scientifically known as pomatomas saltatrix, are voracious feeders that compete with our striped bass population for food and when one is hooked, you almost immediately know you're in for a real fight. There are few fish that refuse to be reeled in as much as the bluefish does.

Bluefish have very sharp teeth and numerous rows of cutting teeth. When fishing for them, steel leaders are a good choice. When I use my own plugs, they are basically a hardwood popper with very sturdy hooks.

In reference to a rod and reel, medium to medium/lightweight gear seems to work best. I have had good success with 20-pound test for line. It's essential to remember that bluefish are real saltwater battlers and they do not give up easily.

It's also important to be aware that bluefish have a tendency to eat everything that is around them. The thicker the schools, the better your chances are of getting big, bold bluefish.

After Memorial Day, schools of feeding blues are commonplace with lots of fish in the three to five pound range. Later in the season, as fall approaches and the autumnal blitzes begin, the really big ones appear. Last year, I hooked one that was a bit more than 16 pounds in a blitzing frenzy and it took some time to get it in the boat.

If you are attempting to identify bluefish, their overall blue or greenish coloration as well as those razor-sharp jaws signal that you have located one of the feisty feeders. Those who fish our local waters on a regular basis know that bluefish taste incredible if they are caught one day, soaked in milk overnight in the refrigerator and dipped in a beer batter/ flour and egg mix and fried briefly in canola or vegetable oil. In my opinion, nothing tastes as delicious as this recipe, especially if the flour mixture is spiced up with some salt, pepper and cumin.

Probably the most popular techniques for hooking blues include the use of artificial lures with plugs or spoons. At this point in the summer, trolling with wire also gets great results. Anyone using live bait like eels or squid should not be surprised to find bluefish on their hooks.

The most recent cover of the Saltwater Fishing Magazine presents a 290-pound mako shark hooked at the end of May by Peter Cefai who fished with mackerel. That same bait also attracted several blue sharks in the area. (Who said Long Island had no sharks?)

This past week, the posted reports from the Noreast.com site noted that the annual Sport-fishing on Long Island field trip took place aboard the Nancy Ann IV out of the North Fork. While chunking and using bucktails, the group had their usual good night of fishing with excellent results. Look at the website and you'll see why they went home so happy.

Posted reports also reported that a private boat with Tom Eberfield on board fished Gardiners Bay for fluke on Saturday. It appears that some new schools have moved into our local waters and the boat went back to the dock with an impressive catch of 25 keeper fluke. Sea bass and some jumbo porgies were also a part of the mix.

Aboard the Celtic Quest, Capt. Desi put everyone on the fish outside the harbor, landing an incredible 300 fluke last Monday. About a third of them stayed on board, while the rest were caught and gently released. That same day, aboard the Osprey III, keeper fluke began to appear in great abundance on the first drift of the day; continuing to appear over the rails, in spite of the intermittent rain. The end result was 40 keeper fluke for a mere ten fares. The pool fish weighed in at just under seven pounds.

At Shinnecock, fluking was good outside the inlet just north of the sea buoy. One angler at the Noreast site reported a half-dozen fluke up to 24 inches in length that were all hooked on squid and spearing in combination.

Montauk was a good spot this past week for anglers according to one boater logged into the Noreast site to report a two-day excursion for fluke. More than fifty came over the rails although most were shorts. Unfortunately, the ratio for dogfish to fluke in the area seems to be about six dogfish per one fluke. Don't the dogfish know that they are supposed to leave as the water warms up?

Off Shagwong, some great fishing took place over the July Fourth weekend, which was extended this year due to a Tuesday calendar. Shagwong Point, off Montauk, held a plethora of cocktail blues and more schoolies than we have seen all season. Eels seemed to hook them on the night bite while tins and poppers were the daytime trick. The only angler complaints seemed to come from those who had dealt with more than their share of those barking sea robins.

So anglers, it seems that this holiday season has not been hampered by the rains and winds we've encountered this past week. Anglers are catching fish just about everywhere they would expect to find them. It's always a good omen for our east end economy as well as our state of mind. Have fun. Catch what you want. Good Fishin' to all of you! 

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