Fall Tournaments Abound

Locals getting down to the pleasures of early fall
A lone surfcaster worked the channel to New Harbor on Block Island on Sunday. Russell Drumm

   Sighs, and other expostulations of relief from the summer hordes, are being heard on either side of Block Island Sound, and from locals getting down to the pleasures of early fall, including the annual spate of fishing tournaments.
    The last glacier dumped the same rock skeletons that form the rolling hills, ponds, and kettleholes of Block Island as it did to make Montauk. They say we were connected way back when. Over the weekend strong ocean swells generated by Tropical Storm Leslie coursed between here and there, with striped bass and bluefish schooling in the shallows to feed on all manner of small prey.
    Light-tackle casters took up positions along the channel into Block Island’s New Harbor, or paddled their fishing kayaks just outside the harbor mouth, where feeding blues were boiling on Sunday afternoon. Fourteen miles to the west, casters were finding bass up to 35 pounds under the Montauk Point Lighthouse, with steady action during the night beginning a week ago. 
    Atilla Ozturk reported seeing terns and gulls hovering over the shorebreak all along Napeague on Monday morning, a sure sign that the small fish hunted by striped bass and bluefish are in the wash, and a good sign for those entering the annual Montauk SurfMasters fall classic surfcasting tournament.
    The tournament will begin at noon on Saturday. The deadline for submitting applications to the West Lake Marina or the Star Island Yacht Club is 10 a.m. that same day. 
    Speaking of Star Island, Scott Leo­nard, the go-to guy for fishing tackle, won the striped bass part of a multi-species tournament held from the yacht club on Friday and Saturday. The winning bass was a 47-pounder reeled up on Friday from the Top Gun boat, which also caught the second and third place stripers, 43.5 and 42.2 pounds. Leonard said Top Gun was fishing at the Great Eastern spot and in the Pollock rip using live eels and croakers.
    Star Island also weighed in over 30 bigeye tuna in the 150 to 218-pound range. The first and second-place fish in the bigeye tuna competition were a 219-pounder caught on the Fish’n Addiction and a 197-pound bigeye from the Bolshevik boat. The White Water boat brought back a bigeye weighing 186 pounds for third place.
    The boat Tonto won the yellowfin tuna contest with a 66-pounder. The Done Deal boated 65 and 64-pound yellows for second and third places. The first and only finisher in the shark division was a 176-pound mako caught from the Deeper boat. The tuna were caught in Hudson Canyon far to the west, a long haul unless you own a boat capable of speeds over 60 m.p.h.
    The yacht club had a separate bluefish division. Instigator took first and second places with 12.8 and 11.8-pound blues. Lil Marlena took third place with a bluefish weighing 9.8 pounds.
    Not to be outdone, the Harbor Marina on Three Mile Harbor held its 14th annual snapper derby on Sunday. In the 3-to-8-year-old competition, James Bradley, 6, took it all with a 4.1-ounce baby blue. Sarah Marie Dern, 12, took top honors in the 9-to-12 division. Her snapper weighed 4.9 ounces, and Khloe Goncalves, 14, caught a 7.3-pound snapper bluefish to win against all comers in the 13-and-over division. Contestants got to make fishprints out of their catches if they chose to get inky. 
    Coming up is the 11th annual Montauk Redbone Celebrity Tournament, Sept. 19-21 from the Montauk Yacht Club. This is a benefit tournament to raise money toward a cure for cystic fibrosis. The tournament targets striped bass, bluefish, and false albacore using light tackle and fly rods. Contestants look for the three-species “blitzes” that occur this time of year.  
    Ken Rafferty, light-tackle and fly-fishing guide, reported bluefish finning “like sharks” off Gardiner’s Island near Eastern Plains Point. He brought Stephen Talkhouse employees out on Friday to catch the blues. Rafferty said he would bring his bigger boat to Montauk for the fall run of false albacore.
    And, if the usual humdrum kinds of fishing no longer excite, you might take a look at George Lombardi’s YouTube video called “Stalking the Man in the Gray Suit,” shot while he was fishing from his kayak off the ocean side of Napeague. “The Man in the Gray Suit” is the Australian way of saying, “Shark!”