Tom Schlichter Newsday columnist Tom Schlichter

Tom Schlichter writes the Outdoors column for Newsday.

Blame it on the weather — the good fishing of late, that is.

Perhaps the gale force breezes that blasted through here early this week pushed baitfish schools against the beaches to draw in predators. Or maybe the winds kept most of the fleet at the dock allowing favored structure to restock with bottom feeders. Then again, it might have been the drop in temperature that triggered the action.

Whatever the cause, most local anglers are happy with current outcomes and are hoping this is the real start to this year’s fall run. Right on schedule, there are big stripers at Montauk and smaller keepers to be found along both the North and South shores. Blackfish are on the prowl on local wrecks and rock piles, and big sea bass can be found in both ocean and Long Island Sound waters. Bluefish are around too, big ones to nearly 20 pounds, although they seem less numerous than last year.

The striper fishing has been particularly good out of Fire Island Inlet. On daytime trips, the Captree fleet and an armada of private vessels have been diamond jigging in ocean waters with success. Capt. Joe Vanderveldt’s Captree open boat Jib VI limited out on several trips, as did the Captree Pride, Laura Lee and Capt. Gillen. “We’ve been fishing in 40-foot depths,” said Capt. Patrick Gillen, “Most days, all you have to do is drop a diamond jig to the bottom and start cranking.”

Nighttime striper action has been good out of Captree, too, although the fish seemed a little shy Wednesday night as I fished aboard the Laura Lee with Capt. Joey Devito at the helm. Eventually, most anglers hooked up with 28 keepers hitting the deck. Early on, however, even the sharpies were playing catch-up to 10-year old Thomas DiFiore of Commack - who decked four bass before most on board had caught one.

“What are you doing differently?” I asked the young angler, who was fishing with his Grandpa, Barry Schipf, of Ronkonkoma.

“I don’t know,” he answered, “I just cast out and reel in slow.”

On that advice, I stopped twitching my white, seven-inch Bass Assassin and simply brought it back with a steady, slow retrieve. Several casts later it was “Fish On!” Five more bass would quickly fall for the same routine as Capt. Joey kept us out late to make sure most anglers had a chance to score. Overall, night bass fishing has been very good.

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Blackfish action continues to build, especially on the North Shore. Capt. Jimmy Schneider’s Huntington open boat James Joseph II has been fishing in just 18 to 25 feet of water with solid results. Most days sees the boat pull a full limit of ‘tog, plenty of shorts, plus some big scup and sea bass. Tuesday’s pool-wining blackfish tipped the scales at 9.5 pounds. Capt. Mike Boccio of the Orient Point Prime Time 3 has had similar results.

Fans of black sea bass would do well to head offshore aboard the Super Hawk out of Point Lookout. Capt. Steve Kearney has been targeting big, knob-headed sea biscuits over wrecks in 120 to 170 feet of water. Mixed in have been jumbo porgies, ling, and a few cod to 27 pounds. These offshore trips fill up fast so call ahead for reservations.