The crisp air and silvery afternoon light tell us autumn is here, the season of great surf and equally great fishing. Both occurred in spades over the weekend.
Hurricane Katia remained mercifully offshore, but her swells fired up local surf spots as well as the beaches of Long Beach, where the Quicksilver Pro surfing contest finals were held on Saturday.
Offshore fishing was frustrated by strong easterly winds, but the inshore striped bass fishing came alive.
“The bass bite has been phenomenal,” was how Chris Miller of the West Lake Marina put it. “A lot of big fish,” he said, going on to name them:
“I weighed a 49.1-pound bass caught by Louis Garcia on the Double D, also a 48.2-pounder caught by Joe Daily on the Mistique. Eleven-year-old Griffin Barnett caught a 47.8-pound bass on the Michelle II, and Ken Marici caught a 40-pounder on the same trip. Another 42-pound bass was weighed on the Remember When. Those were the top fish, but there were lots of others close to or over 40 pounds.”
Miller said all the big bass were caught using live eels for bait. Boats that towed wire caught teen-size fish, he said.
Paul Apostolides of Paulie’s Tackle Shop in Montauk looked longingly toward the rips off Montauk Point on Sept. 7, a banner day of surfcasting on the north side of the Point. There was a steady production of bass into the teens from morning until late afternoon. But, the big bass stayed offshore.
“There’s no shortage of bass in the 40s in the rips. I thought I had it the other day. We had a great morning, a great day, but once the east wind crapped out, that was it. Without a blow, a bad beating, we’re not going to do anything. We need a hard, hard, hard, hard east wind,” Apostolides said. “I’m counting on one real quick.”
The bountiful supply of bass bodes well for the start of the Montauk SurfMasters surfcasting tournament on Friday, Sept. 23.
“The bait has been in close to the beach for several days, and there is a good body of 10-to-12-pound fish roaming all the usual haunts,” Fred Kalkstein e-mailed SurfMasters contestants on Monday. “The peanuts [bunker] and white bait have been thick at times and should keep these bass on the feed with a little help from the weather.”
The good bass news was not confined to Montauk. Harvey Bennett at the Tackle Shop in Amagansett reported “big bass all over the beach in East Hampton. One guy got 15 bass on Sunday, two keeper size [over 28 inches long] using tins.”
He said the man who scored big bass in East Hampton was John Domank from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, where he works as a marlin-fishing guide.
Bennett reported that false albacore were schooling “all over Gardiner’s Bay.” They are being caught on flies and small Yo-Zuri lures.
Fluke and porgies are still strong in Gardiner’s Bay, and Spanish mackerel are being caught off the Three Mile Harbor jetties. Bennett said Ed Bartman caught some but didn’t know what they were so he cut them up and used them for lobster bait. A great waste, Bennett said, seeing as how the mackerel are such good eating.
Fluke fishing was steady on the south side of Montauk. The Lazy Bones party boat reported seven keepers up to six pounds during one of the half-day trips on Monday. The Bones will switch over to diamond jigging for striped bass this Monday.
There were 25 entrants in the annual snapper bluefish derby sponsored by the Harbor Marina on Three Mile Harbor on Saturday. Sinian Byrnes and Frank Faulkner tied in the 3-to-8-year-old division with snappers weighing exactly four ounces.
In the 9-to-11 age group, Max Herrlin prevailed with a hefty six-and-a-half-ouncer. Matthew Bubek landed a nine-ounce snapper to walk away with the top prize in the 13-and-older group.