The Stripers Are Back

“The fish have moved back to Montauk”
Butch Maher, left, first mate on the charter boat Blue Fin IV, showed off the 25-pound cod caught by the angler Robert Macbarb of East Hampton on Sunday. Capt. Michael Potts

    In the words of Chris Miller of the West Lake Marina, “the fish have moved back to Montauk.” Miller was speaking of striped bass, big ones. There was a 50-pounder brought to the scales and a number of stripers in the 30 to 40-pound range.
    After last fall’s shortage of large fish, organizers of the annual Montauk SurfMasters Fall Classic hope the bass stick around for a while.
    Because the striped bass migration looks to have begun early, the tournament will begin and end one week sooner than last year. The hard-fought contest to see who can catch the biggest striper (and bluefish for young entrants) will start at 12:01 p.m. on Sept. 15, and will come to a close at noon on Nov. 25.
    The deadline for applications is 10 a.m. on the 15th. Applications can be downloaded from montauksurfcasters. com and are also available at Gaviola’s Market, Star Island Yacht Club, and West Lake Marina. The entry fee is $260 for the adult men’s wader and wetsuit divisions. The women’s fee is $160. There is no entry fee for the kids and youths divisions.
    As usual, there will be two main categories, wetsuit and wader. No boats, prams, rafts, balloons (they can carry a line far offshore on the right wind), kites (the same), flippers, poling, swimming, drifting, floating, or trolling to access any rocks, sandbars, reefs, or rips. The following rocks are off limits, Weakfish Rocks, Jones Rock, Bluff Rock, Bragan’s Rock, Northbar sandbar, and Whistle Rock.
    “The beach came alive this week. Bass over 30 pounds in town last night on bunker chunks,” said Scott Leonard of the Star Island Yacht Club (a SurfMasters tournament weigh station along with the West Lake Marina). By “town,” Leonard  was referring to the south-facing beaches in downtown Montauk.
    He reported bluefish “up front” at the Montauk Point Lighthouse, as well as a superior fluke-fishing trip Saturday on which three compadres caught 13 keeper fluke, the smallest weighing six pounds. With a bag limit of four 19.5-pound fluke per person, per day, it goes without saying that one of the fluke had to be returned to the briny.
    Paulie’s Tackle shop in Montauk reported bass at Camp Hero State Park over the weekend, and a bunch of small weakfish on the ocean side of Napeague. Sand worms and clams lured the weaks.
    West Lake Marina reported a 42-pound bass caught at the spot known as the Elbow on an eel early Monday morning. Frank Dalli was the angler on the Carla Maria boat. 
    Michael Potts, captain of the Blue Fin IV charter boat, has been doing some very productive summertime cod fishing. Potts reported catching between 50 and 60 cod in the 5 to 15-pound range with regularity. He also predicted the big ocean swells generated by Tropical Storm Leslie far out in the Atlantic will “screw me up big time.” The seas are sure to keep most boats at bay.
    “I had a charter that wanted to try for cod the second week of August. I started southeast of Block Island and worked down and caught at several spots near Coxes Ledge.” Potts reported that Bob MacBarb of East Hampton wrestled a 25-pound cod off the bottom, and Jon Diat of Sag Harbor caught a 15-pound pollack on a diamond jig. “Excellent cod fishing,” Potts declared.
    A friend was remarking on the steely beauty of Fort Pond Bay just after dusk on blue-moon Friday. He said it reminded him of how the water looked in the opening sequence of “Jaws,” when the girl flung off her clothes and swam out to the buoy.
    A 1,600-pound great white shark washed up dead at South Shore Beach in Westport, Mass., over the weekend. The same day, authorities closed the beach at Nauset Beach in Cape Cod after several great whites were spotted close to shore.
    A rumor has been floating around that a gill netter who set off Napeague in recent weeks hauled his gear after a two-hour set and found four species of shark, a thresher, brown, sandbar, and the scariest, a 300-pound tiger. Efforts to confirm the rumor have been unavailing, but geeeez!