Tom Schlichter Newsday columnist Tom Schlichter

Tom Schlichter writes the Outdoors column for Newsday.

On Tuesday, Rep. Lee Zeldin’s EEZ Transit Zone Clarification Act unanimously passed the House of Representatives with bipartisan support. The bill aims to clarify federal laws governing the management of the striped bass fishery in the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) between Montauk and Block Island, Rhode Island, permitting striper fishing in one of Montauk’s premier hot spots to resume after a 26-year hiatus.

Between New York State waters, which end three miles off Montauk Point, and the Rhode Island boundary, which begins three miles off Block Island, lies a ribbon of federally controlled water considered part of the EEZ. It is some of the most productive striped bass water in our region but it has been off-limits to anglers — both recreational and commercial — since 1990. The EEZ, which extends up to 200 miles from the coast, are waters where the United States has exclusive jurisdiction over fisheries and other natural resources.

Congressman (R-Shirley) Zeldin’s bill, if enacted, would authorize the Secretary of Commerce to open this area to striped bass fishing, much to the delight of Montauk’s skippers.

“This would help local anglers on a couple of fronts,” said Capt. Rick Etzel, president of the Montauk Boatman’s and Captain’s Association, and skipper of the Montauk charter vessel, Breakaway, in a phone interview Thursday.

“In addition to having more productive water to fish,” said Etzel, “it should spread the fleet out to some degree so the rips around Montauk Point might see a little less bass fishing pressure. Also, the bottom-fishing for fluke, sea bass and scup is pretty good in that area — but if you already have a striper in the box [caught somewhere else] you can’t fish there for other species because you are not allowed to possess stripers while in these waters. I hope the bill continues on as quickly as possible.”

The next step, according to Zeldin’s office, is for the bill to be introduced into the Senate. So far, no senator has offered sponsorship.

Tournaments

The Point Lookout Shark Tournament kicks off with a party Friday night at Ted’s Fishing Station in Point Lookout at 6 p.m. and sees anglers heading offshore on Saturday morning. Entry fee is $350 per boat with a portion of the proceeds going to Waterfront Warriors. Call 516-431-4193 for details.

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The Fourth Annual Peconic Bay Weakfish, Bluefish & Fluke Derby, sponsored by the Flanders Men’s Club, is slated for June 17 through June 19. The adult entry fee is $25 and kids can participate for $10. An awards presentation and chicken barbecue follow the contest on the club grounds. Call 631-813-0279.

The 30th Annual Star Island Shark Tournament is scheduled for June 17-18. The entry fee is $1,250 per boat. Cash prizes will be awarded for the heaviest shark each day as well as the heaviest shark for the tournament. Call 631-668-5052 to reserve your spot.

The 42nd Moriches Anglers Shark Tournament is set for June 18. Entry fee is $300 per boat. Call 631-878-9280 for details.

Molnar’s Landing 15th Annual Fluke Shootout is slated for June 25 and features both a senior and junior division. The entry fee is $50 for adults, $25 for ages 15 and under. Call 631-728-1860 for more info.