Doggish Days — and Fish

Dogfish as well as a small thresher shark, big porgies, trigger fish, dolphins have been feeding close to shore on the schools of squid in the area
Emma Zuccotti, center, wrestled this monster bluefish out of Gardiner’s Bay over the weekend. Andy Zuccotti

   Technically, we’re past the dog days of summer (based on the “dog star” Sirius’s proximity to the sun), but since Saturday’s heavy rain the weather has felt doggish and dogfish have been caught from the beach in downtown Montauk.
    Dogfish as well as a small thresher shark, according to Sue Jappell of Paulie’s Tackle, big porgies, trigger fish, and, to complete the picture, dolphins have been feeding close to shore on the schools of squid in the area. At Ditch Plain Beach in Montauk on Sunday, keeper-size striped bass sashayed around legs of Boogie boarders standing in waist-deep water — dog days for sure.
    On the north side of Montauk big, very big bluefish have begun blitzing at Gin Beach and Shagwong Point. They are also schooling in Gardiner’s Bay.
    Nine-year-old Julia DeMeritt hooked into a 13.5-pound chopper blue on Sunday aboard Capt. Ken (Ahab) Rafferty’s light-tackle charter boat. She fought and landed the fish by herself. In recent days, Rafferty has been fishing east of Little Gull Island, where he found stripers in the 10-to-15-pound range. He also reported schools of false albacore.
    Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett seconded the false albacore report, saying he was surprised when he hooked a falsey that was less than a foot long. “I thought they were cocktail blues. I remember eight years ago they came in real small, the same way, because the water temperature was pretty high.”
    “It feels like we could be blasted by a hurricane any day. A year ago Thursday we got clobbered, and two years ago the same week,” said Bennett, who keeps a daily log of fishy, terrestrial, and extra-terrestrial events. Oh, and Bennett reported a “bumper crop of bottlefish,” blowfish, in Accabonac Harbor.
    Scott Leonard of the Star Island Yacht Club reported “big bluefish everywhere, on the north side, the south side, from here to Block Island and back.” He said their presence was due to a mind-boggling amount of prey, “large bunker, peanut bunker, white bait, and squid. There are a lot of weakfish too. People are catching them by accident while fluking.” He suggested targeting the weaks by live-lining squid or snappers. He said he had seen weakfish (one of the more beautiful and tastiest fish in the sea) up to seven pounds.
    The West Lake Marina reported that Russ Masciotti, fishing from the Lady Fin, caught a 42.55-pound albacore tuna, a yellowfin tuna, and 18 mahimahi while trolling in West Altantis Canyon on Aug. 14.
    Over the weekend at the Montauk Mercury Grand Slam held from Uihlein’s Marina in Montauk, Capt. Richard Etzel on the Breakaway captured first place and a brand-new Mercury outboard engine with 147.50 aggregate points. His party caught a 34.45-point striper on the first day, a 32.60 striper the second day, bluefish weighing 7.8 and 13.75 pounds on Saturday and Sunday respectively, two fluke, a 6.8-pounder on the first day in the rain, a 9.2-pound fluke on day two. The Breakaway also caught the largest black sea bass of the tournament, a five-pounder. Sal Zatkowski on the Oak took second place, and Richard Rade on the Maria E finished in third place.
    The Montauk Marine Basin is now an automated radio check host station, Sea Tow Services International announced last week. Boaters in Montauk Harbor and surrounding areas of Block Island Sound can check their V.H.F. radio signal by calling channel 26.
    This helps the Coast Guard to free up channel 16, the channel monitored by the Coast Guard, by reducing non-emergency communications.
    Automated radio checks are broadcast on V.H.F. channels 24 through 26 depending on the region. To find the dedicated check channel in a particular area, boaters need only visit seatow.com/arc, enter their city, state, or ZIP code, and find their location on an interactive map.