April 26, 2006
Gone Fishin': One Fish, Two Fish, Blackfish, Bluefish!
Yes anglers, to the delight of fishermen and women on Long Island, happy days are here again. Striped bass season reopened again on April 15 and the day could not have had better weather. Anglers rushed to shorelines and docks in the hopes of landing the first bass of the 2006 season.
Best yet is that they were not disappointed.
One of the most interesting posted reports from the Noreast.com website came from a regular contributor who fished near the Smith Point Bridge. He'd shown up just around midnight and, using a four-inch storm shad, was startled by the huge splash directly ahead of him. The result was a 31-inch keeper-size bass, hooked just shortly after the official start to the striped bass opener. Kudos to the diligent angler!
As you probably know, I always encourage anglers to learn as much as possible about the fish they are determined to catch since knowledge really does add power. Stripers are actually the largest of what scientists refer to as temperate basses. You can notice between seven and nine dark horizontal lines that run along their sides and their powerful bodies look sleek and muscular. Careful examination reveals two clusters of teeth.
As you all know, stripers migrate and can be found from the Canadian shores to the coasts of Florida. Luckily for Long Islanders, our coastal waters are a feeding haven for them for several months. When smaller "schoolies" have been spotted, the keepers are never far behind, as was the scenario that I described with the Smith Point angler.
The older adult fish feed hungrily on smaller fish and follow the bait that is already becoming evident in our local waters. They also eat a variety of invertebrates, including squid and crabs. Last fall, when the schools of squid were thick in the water along the North Fork's northern shoreline, anglers lined up along the beaches as the heavy winds pushed squid and bass practically into the arms of waiting anglers. I hope that it will be at least that good again this year.
Those who go after striped bass should be aware that they often gravitate to areas that are rocky with current that runs fast. It's surely why so many boaters head to Plum Gut and similar locations where turbulent water is the order of the day. I have fished for several years with Capt. Sloan Gurney aboard the Black Rock out of Orient and we often limit out due to the expertise of a captain who knows where to find stripers.
According to another Noreast.com report, the bass opener produced schoolie bass just outside the Peconic River for a surf angler under the #105 bridge. The best news was that the water was filled with schools of tiny bait.
Aboard the Blue Fin IV out of Montauk, opening day proved successful for a group whose quest was actually cod but it ended up supplying additional surprises. Fishing in about 75 feet of water off Block Island, the anglers caught a ton of cod as well as flounder and five blackfish to nine pounds. At this time of year, one never knows exactly what will show up in our local waters, which makes angling even more fun.
When the Blue Fin IV sailed this past Friday, anglers were rewarded with 33 keeper blackfish to six pounds and there were only a few throwbacks. The captain worked diligently on the western side of Block Island in 70 feet of water to send his charters home with fish.
This month's cover of Nor'east Saltwater magazine has a photo of Charles Steele of Great Neck holding a 20-pound Pollock that was hooked in mid-March while aboard the Capt. Mark out of Montauk. That same day, 42 keeper cod were hauled over the rails with ling in the mix.
The most recent posted reports on Nor'east.com mention a log entry by a surf angler near the Smith Point Bridge who hooked a three-pound bluefish on Wednesday. He noted a ton of hickory shad in the water, so the bait is also on its way. A responder to the posting pointed out that he'd seen a cocktail blue taken on frozen spearing at the West Sayville dock. Get ready for the blues folks because they'll be here before you know it.
There is also a lot of excitement about the amount and size of the flounder in our local waters this season. While the best catches appear to be coming from the western part of the Sound, the New York Bight and Sheepshead Bay, that can only mean good things to anglers who are still waiting for them out east. Since we have until May 30 to get these desired flatfish, I think that more and more anglers will actually take home dinner this season.
The best photo I saw on the Web this past weekend was from a Noreast.com member who fished off a boat in water that he described as "the western part of Fire Island." He noted that the water temperature was 54.7 degrees and his diligence produced eight large keepers from 13-to-15.5 inches! Sandworms and clam chum helped to bring success, along with some skill and luck. This is great news for us, as flounder have been a rarity around our local waters for many years. Perhaps they are again on the upswing and will continue to make a comeback.
Well, anglers, as our water continues to warm, the local angling action will continue to heat up. Now is a perfect time to go after flounder and striped bass and all the other additional surprises that could end up on your dining room table by the end of the day.
Good Fishin' to all of you!