Loads ’o’ Falsies, Weakfish

Capt. Ken Rafferty reported that his first albie catch of the season occurred on Monday
Michael Salzhauer presented the false albacore he caught on a fly near Little Gull Island on Monday. Capt. Ken Rafferty

   This can be an eerie time of year. Despite the 80-degree ocean temperature, or maybe because of it, we feel fall just under the horizon. One contributor to the pre-fall feeling is the false albacore, or little tunny. Each year schools of falsies arrive like clockwork, drawing light-tackle anglers to the East End.
    Capt. Ken Rafferty, who runs a light-tackle and fly-fishing guide service out of Three Mile Harbor and, come fall, Montauk, reported that his first albie catch of the season occurred on Monday.
    “There we were,” he began in typical Rafferty style. “East of Little Gull Island. We saw them last week, but by the time we rigged up, they were gone. This time we saw two schools. I had two rods rigged up. We saw them busting, so Michael Salzhauer began working the rod with a little white fly. You have to retrieve them fast. Albies’ eyes are so sharp, you have to suggest bait running. They go after it and can’t help themselves.”
    Rafferty also reported that after a hiatus caused by overly warm water, striped bass had returned to Gardiner’s Bay. “And, bluefish are really big. They don’t show. No birds diving. You can see them finning at slack tide.” Rafferty reported schools of smaller bluefish in the four-to-five-pound range farther east near Water Fence and Fort Pond Bay, Montauk.
    To the west, Ken Morse at the Tight Lines shop in Sag Harbor reported “loads of weakfish. The best run in years. There are a lot of small ones, but with a bag limit of just one, there are plenty over 16 inches,” the minimum legal size. These days Sag Harbor is also blessed with the presence of a vast number of blowfish. “I had one customer who caught 14. There are a lot of kingfish,” he said, referring to a species that looks like a Spanish mackerel. Morse said the harbor had a glut of porgies “and the snappers [baby bluefish] are incredible.”
    The Tight Lines shop will be closed Mondays and Tuesdays after Labor Day.
    Paulie’s Tackle in Montauk reports that surfcasters working the waters around the Montauk Point Lighthouse are finding small bluefish. The south-facing beaches are producing striped bass on occasion for those casting needlefish or darter lures. Bait fishermen are finding blood and sand worms to be productive on Montauk’s north side. The surprising porgy action that surfcasters have been enjoying from south-facing beaches has slowed, probably because of the recent east winds.
    Although the fluke fishing has slowed, it ain’t over. Kathy Vegessi of the Lazy Bones party boat reported that, on one trip a week ago, three anglers caught fluke in the “double digits” — 12.1, 11, and 10-pound doormats. The fluke-fishing season ends at the end of September for sportfishermen. Vegessi also reported sea bass, big porgies, and “beautiful” weakfish caught from the Bones.
    Speaking of black sea bass, the Star Island Yacht Club reports that Robert DeLuca, fishing from the Yolo, caught a huge 7.5-pound sea bass on Sunday. Star Island also reported that Dr. Steve Sachs returned from the Fish Tales section of Block Canyon with a 212-pound bigeye tuna over the weekend, and Jerry Passaretti found yellowfin in the 40-to-60-pound range.
    Chris Miller at the West Lake Marina confirmed the action in the Fish Tales. He said Greg Zwirko on the Kennebunk returned with a 53.3-pound yellowfin tuna caught there by an angler, Cathy Teller. The Kennebunk crew also caught 18 mahimahi and 6 triggerfish while fishing close to a pot buoy. A swordfish in the 100-pound class also swam by the boat, not realizing it had been hooked. It soon found out and put up a fight before shaking the hook.