Striped Bass Feeding Frenzy

Last week I heard that bass, blues, and albies were busting water on the Sound side of Orient Point so I figured I’d head over there
Several small boats congregated in a cove west of Orient Point, where striped bass were pressing their prey against the beach. David Kuperschmid

I asked my son, Jon, if he wanted to go fishing with me. He demurred, claiming he had homework to do. Sure. I asked my daughter, Rebecca, if she wanted to go fishing with me. She replied, “Me on a boat? Unless I see a dead body it’s not interesting.” Someone has been watching way too much “Law and Order.” I beckoned my dogs Comet and Teddy to go fishing with me. They bolted out the back door. Clearly they are more doodle than Labra. So I grabbed a couple of spinning rods and headed over to my boat, solo.

Last week I heard that bass, blues, and albies were busting water on the Sound side of Orient Point so I figured I’d head over there. I last fished that general area a couple months ago after getting bored dropping and reeling up thick diamond jigs in Plum Gut. 

I wasn’t expecting to find much, figuring the recent cold weather had pushed the fish far along their migration path. As I came around the eastern tip of the North Fork I observed a bunch of birds diving into the water in pursuit of bait. I hurried over and launched tins and poppers without any result. Every once in a while there was a swirl on the surface but no response to any lure I dragged across the eruption.

I surveyed the area with binoculars and noticed several small boats moving back and forth deep in a cove, almost bumping the sandy beach dotted with modest homes.  I slowly headed in that direction, blind-casting along the way. Once I got close to the shoreline, I could see small striped bass breaking the surface. A fly fisherman hooked up next to me and landed maybe an 18-inch fish. 

Within two minutes of my arrival the water erupted with bass in frenzied pursuit of bait. The feeding frenzy surrounded my boat. Through barely six feet of crystal clear water I watched marauding schools of striped bass chase dense schools of bay anchovies. It was an incredible sight.

I threw a Deadly Dick over and over again with no success. I next offered a popper and then a fly delivered with a casting egg. Nada. I then tossed a four-inch white soft bait on a small jig head. Slam! A rambunctious and plump 23-inch striper was landed and released. The drought was over. The puzzle was solved.

The striped bass now were mercilessly pressing their prey against the beach. Broad tails were viciously slapping about and baitfish leaped for their lives. Moms, dads, and little kids were now getting into the action from the beach, casting lures of all shapes and sizes with immediate results. It was joyful pandemonium. I stopped casting for a couple minutes just to watch the kids catch fish. I could see their big smiles and hear their shouts of “got another one.” At that moment I deeply wished my kids had accompanied me and could witness this incredible spectacle. I always tell them that it’s not about catching fish, it’s about experiencing nature. Guess I’m a lousy salesman. 

I probably caught 15 or so bass. Lost maybe six more. If inclined I could have caught 100. The fish weren’t big. The largest was 28 inches. It was kept and delivered to a former chef who manages my marina. I heard him mention something about a horseradish crust as he carried the fish from the dock. I hope he enjoyed the fish half as much as I enjoyed my few hours on the water, solo.

Scallop season is open in both local and state waters. A shellfish permit, available at the East Hampton Town Clerk’s Office on Pantigo Road, is necessary to take scallops in East Hampton waters. The East Hampton Town Shellfish Ordinance can be found at: ehamptonny.gov/DocumentCenter/View/94. 

Turkey season opens Saturday and runs through Dec. 2. Hunters are permitted to take one wild bird of either sex per season by shotgun only, according to Harvey Bennett, a bird hunting enthusiast.

I believe the grapevine reports of fish at ocean beaches, including some bass in the 20-pound class, but I haven’t seen any during my daily visits. I should have been there . . . when? Probably bachelor hours, dawn and dusk. The best indicator of surf action is the number of tire tracks in the sand, and there were plenty last weekend. So somebody was chasing something up and down the beach.

Reports of striped bass, bluefish, and even albie action continue to come in from Rhode Island and Massachusetts, so there’s more ketchup in the bottle, one could say. Water temperatures are now close to 50 degrees in New England coastal waters, so fish are on the move. Central Long Island Sound water temperatures are holding around 55 degrees, which is within the comfort zone of striped bass and bluefish. These fish will be trekking east shortly. It is what it is. Enjoy the bonus time.

Bottom fishing continues to be strong in all the usual places.

 


The Star’s fishing columnist can be followed on Twitter, @ehstarfishing. Photos of prize catches can be emailed to David Kuperschmid at fishreport@ ehstar.com.