Both tasty and rambunctious, the simple porgy is a popular choice among Long Island's legion of bottomfishing fans, and for good reason. While it generally weighs less than 2 pounds, this salty panfish puts up a decent scrap, can be caught from shore or boat, and doesn't seem to care whether it's targeted with a brand new $500 rod and reel combo or a setup borrowed from grandpa's basement. This year, they've been especially plentiful -- and exceptionally big.
"The porgies have simply been awesome," said Candy Caraftis at Caraftis Fishing Station in Port Jefferson, "and it seems to be getting better every day right now."
Caraftis has been sending her rental skiff and private boat customers out to the Long Island Sound Middle Grounds, Oldfield Point and Cranes Neck, and they've often returned with full limits and "jumbos" that can push 20 inches and 3 pounds.
"We've seen a ton of 17-inch fish of late and the action is even spreading into Port Jefferson Harbor. The best catches have come from 20- to 30-foot depths on clam baits," Caraftis said. "It's the best I've ever seen right now in terms of both size and consistency, and I've worked here for a lot of years."
Indeed, it is "Porgy Time!" agreed Captain Dave Brennan of the Greenport based open boat Peconic Star. His customers have been filling 5-gallon buckets and quite a few have pulled full limits.
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"It's just stupid fishing right now, the kind you don't have to overthink," Brennan said. "We've been fishing both locally and over to the west of Block Island, so we're catching plenty of sea bass as well. Most of the porgies have been in the 14- to 16-inch class, so it's the real deal right now."
Porgy action also has been hot at Montauk, Shinnecock, Huntington and City Island, and is kicking into gear for the West End fleet.
"For us," said captain Steve Kearney of the Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk, "a mixed bag of black sea bass, fluke, triggerfish and blues is still the rule, but the porgy action is definitely picking up. Thursday we had them ranging from shorts to 2.5 pounds while fishing in 60-foot depths. As we come closer inshore over the next few weeks, we'll put more porgies in the pails."
Current porgy regulations allow open boat anglers to creel up to 45 fish each per trip during the months of September and October. All other anglers can take up to 30 fish per trip. The minimum size, no matter where in New York you catch and keep your porgies, is 10 inches.
Coming up fast is the opening of Long Island's white-tailed deer archery season on Oct. 1. Fall turkey season in eastern Suffolk County runs Nov. 16-20. Long Island's special firearms shotgun deer season runs from Jan. 6 to Jan. 31, weekdays only.
Blackfish season begins next week, too, on Oct. 5. This year's blackfish regulations call for a 16-inch minimum size limit, four fish possession limit, and open dates through Dec. 14. That covers the peak of blackfish action in our waters, but it's a lot shorter than most serious blackfish fans would like. For more information on fishing or hunting seasons and regulations, visit dec.ny.gov.