The big striped bass are here. Star Island Yacht Club has reported that three bass over 50 pounds were weighed in during the past week.
Scott Leonard, who runs the tackle section of the Yacht Club’s store, caught a 60.4-pounder on June 26. On Friday, Mike Ajello, fishing aboard the Susan A, reeled up a bass weighing 56.3 pounds, and on Sunday Anthony Vaccaro caught a 50.7-pound bass.
Scott Leonard said all the big bass were caught drifting live bunker deep in the rip currents off Montauk Point. The live bunker were brought to the bottom via a “banana drail,” a banana-shape lead weight with hook attached.
“They’re eating everything,” Leonard said of the bass, but concentrating on bunker. “There was a shot of them on the north side all last week, and in front of the Lighthouse,” Leonard said of the bunker schools. “The bass have been staying on the bunker coming down from the west.”
Chris Miller of the West Lake Marina said the marina’s scales had been receiving the same weighty fish. On Sunday, Larry Chancey was fishing aboard his brother’s Chancey Charter boat and landed a 57.15-pound bass. And again on Sunday, Rick Gulia, aboard the Perfect Catch charter boat, came back with a 58-pounder. Both fish were caught live-lining eels.
Peter Correale, who hunts bass with a spear gun, shot a 48-pound bass on Sunday, Miller reported. And, the aim of Kevin Cordella, another spear fisherman, was true enough to bag a 48-pounder. Miller mentioned in passing that the marina now features a touch tank for kids to get acquainted with sea creatures. Sharks not included.
The shark tag tournament held from the Montauk Marine Basin last Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, the marina’s 42nd, ended with the largest shark caught on the Instigator boat, a 255-pound thresher. The first-place mako weighed 249 pounds and was angled aboard the Canyon Lady. The biggest blue shark weighed 252 pounds. The boat was the Fish N Chips.
The marine basin encourages the tagging of sharks not considered big enough to be contenders. Tagged sharks become part of the National Marine Fisheries Service’s shark research program.
The Marine Basin has also pioneered the use of circle hooks, a type that lodge in a fish’s jaw rather than farther down the alimentary canal. Released fish tend to survive after being caught with circle hooks.
Unfortunately for the Montauk SurfMasters spring shootout tournament that ended on Saturday, the big bass did not come within casting distance. Mike Coppola’s winning bass weighed in at 28.8 pounds. Rich Reilly took second with a 26-pound striper, and Mary Ellen Kane was on the board with a 12.8-pound bass for the third-place spot.
Ken Morse at the Tight Lines shop in Sag Harbor reports good fluke activity in Sag Harbor as well as a surprising number of weakfish. The downside, he said, was that the state is allowing only one keeper tiderunner per day measuring 16 inches or longer.
With warmer water temperatures, striped bass have moved east out of the Peconics with the bunker schools, just as Scott Leonard had reported in Montauk. Big bass are also being found around Plum Gut and the Race. Morse confirmed the experience of anglers farther to the east — that being pulling up porgies “bigger than I’ve ever seen in the Peconics, fish between 16 and 19 inches.”
Morse recommended getting to the waters around Gardiner’s Island early before weekend boat traffic puts the porgies down. He said there was a good chance you would find big bass and huge bluefish chowing down on bunker there. Tight Lines carries live eels, worms, and live green crabs later in the year for blackfish.