Reading this week’s press release from the State Department of Environmental Conservation was like waking from a wonderful, liberating dream and realizing it was all true.
“These regulation changes reflect improvements to populations of scup, black sea bass, and summer flounder,” reported Kathy Moser, the D.E.C.’s assistant commissioner for natural resources. “The scup population is particularly robust at this time, and we encourage anglers to get out on the water and enjoy the increased opportunity for anglers to bring home freshly caught fish.”
Wow! The D.E.C. release ushers the reader — more familiar with the agency’s doom and gloom regulatory strictures — into a kind of parallel universe, where, in addition to the good fishing, beer has been found to be good for you, adds years to your life, and seeps from natural springs. And, where the $50, summertime, nonresident toll to enter Montauk across a newly-dredged Napeague canal supports fishermen living within East Hampton Township year round.
Ms. Moser was referring as well to the summer flounder (fluke) season that began on Tuesday with a four-fish-per-day possession limit, and a 19.5-inch minimum size limit. The season will run until Sept. 30.
The liberalized scup (porgy) season also got under way on Tuesday with a 20-per-day bag limit of scup measuring 10.5 inches or longer. During the May 1 to Dec. 31 season, party and charter boat anglers will have to be satisfied with an 11-inch minimum size limit, but they will be able to keep 40 fish per day during the months of September and October.
As for black sea bass (one of the more delicious fish in the sea) new regulations permit a 15-per-day bag limit and a season from June 15 through Dec. 31. The minimum size will remain 13 inches.
Capt. Mike Vegessi of the Montauk party boat Lazy Bones was reached Monday morning on the eve of the fluke opening. He said he had made a couple of trial runs and found fluke biting, as well as “lots of bait,” including a healthy supply of sea robins.
Mackerel and herring are in the area, which would explain the occasional offshore shower of diving gannets. Squid was high on the fluke’s list of favorite prey, Vegessi said, and small schools of squid are being seen by trap fishermen and nighttime jiggers.
Captain Vegessi’s daughter Becky will be on board again this season as mate and filleter extraordinaire. Kathy Vegessi, the captain’s wife, will wo(man) the Bones’s shoreside headquarters located beside the harbor’s new bistro (formerly Lenny’s), now called Swallow — which should give visitors something to chew on.
Scott Leonard is manning the expanded tackle shop located within the ship’s store at the Star Island Yacht Club. Already a full-service marine supply store with foul weather gear, boots, knives, and all sorts of boating paraphernalia, this season the Yacht Club has made an impressive effort to reel in the surfcasting crowd.
On Tuesday, Leonard showed off the shop’s collection of Penn, Daiwa, Shimano, and Van Staal reels, custom rods, every style of surface, swimming, tin, and bucktail lure, bait, including live eels, shaved ice, korkers, coolers of all sizes, and more.
Star Island is an official weigh station for the hotly contested Montauk SurfMasters Spring Shoot-Out, and fall classic tournaments.