First off, let’s deal with the rumor — the unsubstantiated rumor — that a mammoth, 77.4-pound striped bass was caught from a boat fishing off Block Island on Saturday. If true, it set the state record for the species and gave more than one angler around here heartburn.
Around here, the striped bass fishing has been rather slow. “I wish I could tell you things were hot, but they’re not,” said Fred (Eelman) Kalkstein, an organizer of the Montauk SurfMasters surfcasting tournament. “Sporadic” is how Paul Apostolides of Paulie’s Tackle in Montauk put it.
Apostolides, the official weigh master for the SurfMasters Tourney, said most of the bass caught during the week from the beach were teen-size. No one has put a big one on the scales since John Bruno caught his 40.68-pound striper over a week ago to put him into second place.
As of Tuesday, the first-place position was held by Bill Gardiner with a 42.26-pounder, Wes O’Donnell held on to the third spot with his 39.56-pound striped bass. The Montauk SurfMasters spring shootout will end on July 2, with competitors then gearing up for the fall classic.
Paulie’s Tackle also reports bluefish on the attack chasing squid near the beach. Sand eels are also into the prey species mix with large bunker also seen, but so far with no big predators chasing them.
Harvey Bennett at the Tackle Shop in Amagansett is screaming, “Fluke, fluke, and more fluke off Napeague Harbor. Chris Russo caught an 11-pound fish a few days ago.” Bennett reports that clam baits are still doing it from Amagansett’s sand beaches. Bluefish are schooling within casting distance around the Three Mile Harbor jetties just about any time of day.
Offshore, boaters are reporting that yellowfin tuna are fairly plentiful out on the edge of Block Canyon or a little farther, mostly in the section known as the Tail and west. Most of the yellows are about 25 pounds with an occasional 40 or 50-pounder in the mix.
Between 12 and 20 miles from Montauk, bluefin tuna in the 150-pound class are swimming among whales, dolphins, and plenty of prey. Unfortunately for anglers, schools of hungry bluefish are also in the area. Starting on Jan. 1, the possession limit for sportfishermen in the angling category was one fish per vessel, per day measuring 27 inches to less than 73 inches curved fork length, that is the length from the tip of the snout across the curved flank of the fish to the fork in the tail.
One giant bluefin measuring 73 inches or more can be kept as a trophy per vessel, per day until the quota is filled.