Big Scup Not Just a Fluke

Porgies seem to be getting larger and larger
Mason Cohen of Water Mill greeted a porgy up close and personal during an outing provided by the Flying Point Surf School’s fish camp last week. Ava Locks Photo

    While the summer cornucopia of fish continues to spill forth with an abundance found nowhere else on the coast, anglers have been heard to moan about how hard it’s been to find small porgies to use for bass bait. “They’re all the size of hubcaps,” one angler complained.
    It’s true. Porgies, otherwise known as scup, seem to be getting larger and larger, as though their genetic material has been contaminated Godzilla-like by atomic radiation.
    Tom Jordan at the Gone Fishing Marina was asked why the scup are so big. Simple, he said. “It’s a burgeoning population. They’ve been on the rebound for the past 10 years. More fish means more survive to grow bigger.” The old supply-and-demand downside for commercial porgy fishermen is, of course, the price. Fewer fish, higher price. More fish, lower price.
    Depending on whom you talk to and when, fluke fishing is either great or slow, bass fishing is so-so or fantastic. Jordan echoed reports of big striped bass being caught in the rip currents around Montauk Point. Gone Fishing Marina weighed in one 50-pound bass during the week, one over 50, and a number of bass in the 40-pound range. The big bass are falling to live porgies and live eels.
    As for fluke, Kathy Vegessi, the Lazy Bones party boat’s first shoreside mate, said on Monday that the struggle for our favorite flat fish last week turned into a Monday morning trip that landed 14 keepers over 19.5 inches long. Vegessi also reported “tons of sea bass.” Fifteen of the delicious eating fish (over 13 inches long) can be caught and kept each day.
    This summer the Flying Point Surf School is offering the only fishing camp in the Hamptons. Shane Dyckman is the founder of the camp, which seeks to solve what’s been called the “nature deficit” suffered by growing numbers of kids by getting them off the sofa and onto a boat.
    The camp offers instruction in basic spin-casting and fly-fishing equipment, fish ecology, and responsible, conservation-minded angling. More information can be obtained by going to flyingpointsurfschool.com, or by contacting D. Ava Locks at davalocks@gmail.com.  
    The classes will probably not include a tutorial on chumming, but there will be plenty of that on Friday, Aug. 3, and Aug. 4 during the 20th annual mako/thresher shark tournament held from the Star Island Yacht Club. The captains meeting is scheduled for next Thursday night starting at 7:30. Boats can be entered up until the night of the captains meeting. The entry fee is $600 per boat.
    On Friday, Capt. Paul Forsberg, owner of Montauk’s Viking Fleet of party boats, addressed the Congressional Subcommittee on Fisheries, Wildlife, Oceans, and Insular Affiairs in Washington, D.C.
    Captain Forsberg asked Congress to amend the Atlantic Striped Bass Conservation Act to allow recreational fishing for striped bass in the area between Montauk and Block Island known as the Block Island Sound transit zone.
    Charts showing the location of the zone are available at most Montauk marinas. Not everyone is in favor of opening the zone to bass fishing as only larger party boats have the size to hang out there, especially at night. Nor does the proposed amendment address whether market fishermen would get the right to fish in the zone. It is now off limits to both sport and commercial fishermen.