There was a time in early spring, not all that long ago, when baymen set fykes on the bottom of Lake Montauk to trap the winter flounder as they rose from their muddy hibernation. There were enough flounder, in fact, for hook-and-line flounder anglers to get their nose out of joint over the presence of fykes. No more.
In recent years, the absence of the favored flatfish from the lake and other popular haunts including Sag Harbor has virtually removed the blackbacks from our otherwise robust list of catchable spring and summer fish. Nonetheless, the State Department of Environmental Conservation has, in its wisdom, decided that blackbacks are fair game despite their low numbers. The season began on Monday and will run through May 30.
It’s possible that Capt. Mike Vegessi’s Montauk-based party boat Lazy Bones, traditionally among the earliest winter flounder hunters, will give it a try in the coming days. If so, it could provide a bridge of sorts to get jonesing anglers through what appears to be a waning cod season to the start of striped bass fishing on April 15. By the way, the Bones got a new deck over the winter as well as a new head, the latter just as important as the former.
What had been a pretty fair cod season tanked, or at least showed a marked slowdown over the Easter weekend, according to charter and party boat captains. Easter falls on the first Sunday after the full moon that follows the vernal equinox, which occurred early this year. Last year Easter fell on April 24 and coincided with great cod fishing. Perhaps the cod will appear en masse once again later this month.
Aphrodite Montalvo, spokeswoman for the State Department of Environmental Conservation, verbally shrugged over the phone when asked about this season’s regulations for the recreational fluke (summer flounder) fishery. Last year the season began on May 1 with a four-fish bag limit and a 19.5-inch minimum size. “Nothing yet,” Montalvo said. “It’s a wait-and-see game.”
The trout season got under way on Monday although you’d be hard pressed to find one in East Hampton Town. You can find them in Southampton, where several freshwater bodies are stocked by the D.E.C. Out-of-towners may fish in Southampton, but not without hiring a guide. A list of guides and trout-friendly water bodies is available at the office of the Southampton Town Trustees, 287-5717.