Bass And Breakers

August 27, 1998

All offshore sports fishing ceased early this week because of the monstrous ocean swells produced by Hurricane Bonnie, but you can be sure the Coast Guard is standing by in case there are anglers who forgot.

On Saturday before the swells hit Richard Stone was out by the Fish Tails section of Block Canyon on board the Daybreaker charter boat and hooked into a blue marlin estimated at 400 pounds.

The Daybreaker was trolling for yellowfin tuna with artificial lures, some on heavy line, some on lighter tackle. Mr. Stone noticed a bill moving through the water toward one of the lighter lines' terminal gear. The marlin took the hook, jumped four times, then eight more as it grayhounded toward the horizon, "spooling" the reel in the process. It was bye-bye, marlin, but a thrill just the same. The trip produced two yellowfin.

Too Many Fluke?

Freida Reichert at the Diamond Cove Marina in Montauk reported the best action yet in Block Canyon and at the Fish Tails part of it. "It was a great weekend again," she said of the inshore angling.

Bunker chunking for striped bass in the rips around Montauk Point was productive. Fluke-fishing anglers from Diamond Cove caught well using the "Montauk Sandwich" bait of one part squid, one part sandeel, and one part squid. As most everyone knows, fluke fishing has been exceptional this year along the entire East Coast, perhaps too exceptional.

Fluke is managed by the Mid-Atlantic Council in cooperation with the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission. All the figures are not in yet, but word has it that recreational fluke fishermen already have exceeded their annual seven-million-pound coastwide quota by over 100 percent.

Sticking To The North

In New York the quota takes the form of an eight-fluke per-day bag limit. The fish must measure at least 15 inches in length. Some kind of regulatory response is a probability.

The Lazy Bones party boat, which specializes in fluke fishing during the summer months, reported some nice ones up to seven pounds on Tuesday in the rips on the north side of Montauk Point.

Lazy Bones anglers also hooked five keeper (over 28-inch) striped bass of up to 20 pounds on their fluke rigs. Mike Vegessi, captain of the Bones, has been sticking to the north side of Montauk since the beginning of the hurricane swell.

He has been preparing to switch over to bass and bluefish and may soon have reason to. He said fluke do not like the kind of murky water created by a big groundswell and will probably move out. It depends on how close the storm gets.

Atlantic Bonito

David Blinken of North Flats Guiding reported "triple-headers" over the weekend, meaning striped bass, bluefish, and bonito on the fly from Lion Head Rock near Hog Creek all the way east to Montauk.

He said that striped bass were feeding on spearing around the Devon Yacht Club and Albert's Landing. Out toward Montauk, on the other hand, the bass, blues, and bonito were dining on small bunker.

The bonito are the Atlantic bonito, as opposed to the green bonito. The latter are much better tasting than the former. Mr. Blinken said some being caught on flies were estimated in the 8 to 10-pound range. When fishing for bonito on light spinning gear, Mr. Blinken recommended small tins with no feathers, or the smallest of the Hopkins lures, and retrieve them fast.

Skipjacks?

Harvey Bennett said he thought at least some of the "false albacore" sightings of late were actually skipjacks, another name for Atlantic bonito, which are still otherwise known as "mush mouths," for their delicate jaws.

Mr. Bennett had good advice for fishermen who must turn to the bays to wet their lines until the ocean subsides. He said Cherry Harbor was crowded with large porgies. The waters off Fresh Pond in Amagansett also were producing porgies.

And don't be surprised, he said, if you're on a beach somewhere angling for snapper blues and catch a fluke the way Bridget Anderson did the other day, a 17-incher, at Albert's Landing.

Michael Potts's anglers were witness to nature's awesome power yesterday morning when the charter captain's Blue Fin IV charter boat anchored up as close as was safe to Great Eastern Rock, about one nautical mile east of Montauk Point.

Some Swell

The hurricane swell was so large that waves were breaking on the rock reef, which lies about 25 feet below the surface.

Catching striped bass while looking into very large breakers nearby - it doesn't get much better.