What’s with the wind? It has come out of the west and southwest every day for the past two weeks now. A southwest wind prevails this time of year, but not at 20-knots plus, and not with so much accent on the westerly component. The pattern has kept small-boat operators at bay, especially in the afternoon.
“Basically what we’ve had is a large Bermuda high over the Atlantic Ocean. We are on the western side of that pressure system. High-pressure systems rotate clockwise, so we’ve had prolonged westerly winds. Usually they don’t hang around this long. It moved offshore early last week, but then moved back toward the eastern seaboard again by late last week into this week,” Joe Pollina, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service, said Tuesday morning. The system would remain stationary until today, he said, predicting that a welcome cold front could move in by this afternoon.
In keeping with the old dockside saw, “when the wind is from the west the fishin’s best. When it’s from the east fishin’ least,” the fishing has remained productive for the most part, although the new moon seems to have slowed the striped bass fishing, especially for those casting into the surf.
At the same time, a new school of large striped bass has moved into the area, according to Rob Aaronson, veteran captain of the Oh Brother charter boat. The Oh Bro ties up at Salivar’s Dock in Montauk, where Captain Aaronson was preparing hooks for a trip early Tuesday morning. Around him, customers were boarding the Ebb Tide, Lazy Bones, Flying Cloud, and Viking party boats bound for the fluke grounds.
Asked how the fluke were biting, Capt. Fred E. Bird of the Flying Cloud answered, “With their mouths.” Asked the same question, Freddie Shea, a mate with the Viking Fleet, said the fluke were so big “they have claws.” Both answers that can be translated as “fluke fishing is good, not great, certainly not bad, and only God knows what the day will bring.”
As for catching customers, Captain Aaronson said this season had been different. “We had a very good spring, but summer customers are not booking far in advance like they used to. We have fill-ins,” he said, meaning anglers who decide to go fishing at the last minute. And, he said there were relatively few tourist anglers, “maybe because they can’t find accommodations, or they are too expensive. Most seem to be driving out for the day.”
Where the fluke fishing has been red hot is off the docks and small boats fishing in Montauk Harbor, from the inlet jetties, and along Gin Beach. Or, if you want to bring the kids to see fluke up close, the West Lake Marina has an open-air tank with fluke, sea robins, a sand shark (dogfish), a few scallops, and 10 small mackerel. There were 11, but one of the fluke sucked one down.
West Lake Marina has a Facebook page with photos and short reports about weekly fishing exploits. There’s a good shot of Carl Safina of Amagansett (his new book, “The View from Lazy Point” is great) and a friend, Randy Kevkin, with a 37-pound striped bass they found on Saturday. Chris Miller said the Facebook page was getting hits in the hundreds and was working to keep anglers from away up to date on what’s happening here.
This week that includes continued productive shark fishing with a thresher weighing over 400 pounds brought back to the Star Island Yacht Club, no appreciable sign of tuna, and stripers being caught on clam baits along Napeague and Amagansett beaches. Assuming the wind lets up, a small boat venture in Gardiner’s Bay will be rewarded with productive fluke and porgy fishing.
The big news for small kids is that baby bluefish, a k a snappers, have made a strong, early appearance in Three Mile Harbor. Parents are reminded that state law allows anglers 15 bluefish per day, no more than 10 of which may be shorter than 12 inches.
Speaking of kids, the Sea Tow company that is often referred to as the AAA of the sea, has launched a program to encourage boaters to get their kids into life vests. The Coast Guard requires that all boaters under the age of 13 wear them. To help promote safety, Sea Tow has initiated a loaner program. Life jackets of various sizes are available to try on and use at the launching ramp at Gann Road on Three Mile Harbor, at Uihlein’s Marina in Montauk, and at the Montauk Marine Basin.