On the Water: Blues Away, Bass Will Play

Surfcasters discussed equipment during a break in the action at Montauk Point on Sunday. Russell Drumm

    It’s like reading tea leaves or entrails — cue the eerie music: What does it portend when surfcasters see schools of small bunker and large sand eels in the wash, but not a lot of bluefish?
    Fall fell last Thursday and the new moon rose on Tuesday, and yet, tons of baitfish and very few bluefish. This is the season when it’s not unusual to see acres of bluefish in boiling feeding frenzies that mass at places like Turtle Cove on the west side of the Montauk Lighthouse, or are carried on the tide along the south-facing beaches.
    This is the season when experienced casters know not to cast into such boils if they want to keep their lures, and to let their tins or bucktails sink down around the edges of the boils to find the striped bass that lurk there waiting for the bluefish’s scraps as they descend.
    With the blues away, striped bass are picking at the prey. Paulie’s Tackle shop in Montauk reports that most of the bass action has taken place at night. In fact, the first fish to make it on the leader board in the Montauk SurfMasters tournament in the wetsuit division was caught at night, a 49.3-pounder reeled in by John Bruno. The fish won the State Parks Department tournament over the weekend as well. Richie Michelson is now on the board in the wader division with a 24.12-pound bass caught over the weekend.
    The Star Island Yacht Club’s annual striped bass and bluefish tournament will be held on Oct. 9 from 6 a.m. to 4 p.m. Last year, 63 boats entered. The captains’ meeting will take place on the evening of Oct. 8. The entry fee is $275 per boat for up to four anglers, $50 for each additional angler.
    Boating anglers have found the bassing spectacular, even with a slight slowdown over the weekend. The rips needed a bit more tidal flow, which the new moon should provide. The Lazy Bones party boat reported brisk diamond-jigging action last week, with bass up to 35 pounds. Live eels are doing the trick as well.
    The sand beaches in Amagansett have been seeing more striped bass within casting distance of shore than has Montauk these days, according to Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in that hamlet — fish in the 10-to-20-pound range. And, “ah, the solitude of false albacore fishing” in Gardiner’s Bay with many of the mosquito fleet of light-tackle and fly-fishing boats in Montauk, Bennett reported with a satisfied sigh and a lure to his shop: “I’ve been making neat teasers’ feathers, wild colors that work real well.”
    Teasers are features of terminal gear that “swim” ahead of the hook on drop lines and appear to hungry fish as small prey being chased by a bigger fish (with hook).
    Brian Fromm returned to the West Lake Marina over the weekend aboard his Flying Dutchman with a 223-pound big-eye tuna. The Dutchman also found schools of mahimahi. One mahi weighed 20 pounds.
    Chris Miller of West Lake reminds flatfish anglers that the fluke season ends tomorrow. The recreational porgy season closed on Monday unless you plan to fish from a party or charter boat.
    On Sept. 7 the daily possession limit went from 10 to 40 porgies per person per day. It will stay that way until Oct. 11. Efforts are under way to convince the New York Department of Environmental Conservation to keep the porgy season open longer given the days lost to Tropical Storm Irene.
    Sea bass have been abundant of late. Unfortunately, that season is due to end on Saturday. It will open again on Nov. 1 and run through Dec. 31.
    Blackfish season opens on Saturday and will run until Dec. 20. Hunting the tautog (blackfish) will become legal again on Jan. 17 through April 30. Miller said West Lake had plenty of blackfish bait on hand — green crabs and the hermit crabs they favor.