Fall officially arrived nearly two weeks ago but you'd be hard-pressed to notice it from a piscatorial perspective.
"We're fishing in shirt sleeves and shorts right now," said Capt. Michael Potts during a phone conversation Thursday morning. Potts was positioning his Montauk charter boat, Bluefin IV, on the North Grounds as we discussed the stellar bottom action. "We just pulled three sea bass in the 4-pound class over the past 10 minutes -- and here comes a 3-pound porgy over the rail! Fishing's really good right now."
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While bottom feeders have been the bread and butter off Montauk and Orient Points recently, diamond jigging for stripers is also starting to heat up. The bite has been furious off the south side of shoals and rips such as The Elbow and Great Eastern, and the linesiders have averaged 15 to 20 pounds. The catch is you need to be there at dawn.
Looking west, porgy, sea bass and triggerfish have remained exceptionally cooperative outside Shinnecock, Moriches and Fire Island inlets, and a few shots of false albacore have added yet another dish to the menu. The albies have shown on rising tides, generally east of each inlet, and seem quite willing to smash small diamond jigs and Deadly Dicks. There have also been a few false albacore mixed into the striper and bluefish catches aboard the Captree open fleet.
"We've started picking up stripers, blues and weakfish on clams inside Great South Bay and near Robert Moses Bridge," said captain Walter Czakaj of the Fishfinder II, "but we've also tried some ocean diamond jigging and found stripers to 20 pounds mixed with a few 6- to 8-pound false albacore.
Over on the North Shore, captain Jimmy Schneider of the Huntington based open boat James Joseph II suggested small-boat anglers hit the mussel beds south of Buoy 13 where the bottom is paved with 1- 2-pound porgies. The idea is to work the scup during the slower stages of the tide, then diamond jig for bluefish as the current builds up strength.
Schneider has been running over to the Connecticut side, where he's limited the boat with porgies and sea bass nearly every day for more than a month. "It crazy action with tons of fish and fillets for everyone," he added.
"We're also seeing plenty of limit catches," said captain Stew Cash on the Port Jefferson open boat Osprey IV. "Clam baits have accounted for porgy, sea bass and bluefish spread across water depths ranging from 20 to 60 feet."
There are so many porgies spread across Long Island Sound right now that it would be hard to miss the schools anywhere from Prospect Point on east to The Firing Range off Mattituck. Buoy 11B, Matinecock Point, Cranes Neck, Eatons Neck and Hortons Point all make great starting spots.
On the West End, porgies and sea bass continue to come from rough bottom outside of Jones Inlet. Vito Portera and friends had a bang-up day aboard the Freeport charter vessel Codfather on Wednesday, limiting out with sea bass to 3 pound, plus "unusually large" porgies. Huge bluefish also continue to make headlines off Lido Beach and the Atlantic Beach wreck, with at least four topping the 20-pound mark in the past ten days. Those are real gorillas.