Hard to believe that fall officially arrives this weekend and the autumnal equinox for the Northern Hemisphere occurs Saturday evening at 9:54 p.m. To be sure, the actual arrival of fall in our region doesn’t affect fishing and outdoors activities immediately. Rather, it serves as a warning to squeeze in your last few trips for fluke (season ends Sept. 30) and other popular summer species such as school weakfish, triggerfish, kingfish and mahi mahi, all of which will be heading south over the next month.
Of course, just as some species head for warmer water, others enjoy the crispness and dropping temperatures of late September and early October. False albacore are a classic example. Over the past two weeks scattered reports of “Fat Alberts” have been on the rise, especially in Long Island Sound, at Montauk, and surrounding Shinnecock Inlet. The past few days have seen further intensification of the albie bite, including several visits along the shores of Long Island’s North Fork. It will be another two weeks before that action grows consistent, but the necessary rain bait seems to be place and a couple more cool nights are likely to ignite a serious bite.
Porgy also seem to be grouping tighter together as fall approaches. Catches remain super in western Long Island Sound from City Island east to Eatons Neck, and are improving between Mattituck and Orient Point. The hungry scup are also well established on the South Shore reefs with the action building most steadily off Atlantic Beach. For simple mixed bag catches of sea bass, triggerfish, scup and blues, the fishing has been solid aboard the Point Lookout, Freeport, Montauk and Orient Point fleets.
On the mark-your-calendar front, The Montauk Classic, a surf fishing contest hosted by The Fisherman Magazine and Long Island State Parks, begins at noon Friday and runs through noon on Sunday. Paulie’s Tackle Shop, which will remain open 24/7 throughout the weekend, is the official weigh station. The in-person entry deadline is 9 a.m. Saturday, also at Paulie’s. The entry fee is $15 per angler. There are three places in the Striped Bass Release Division and the Striped Bass and Bluefish divisions. Winners of the striped bass (weighed) and bluefish categories will receive $750. Second and third place winners, and first through third place in the striped bass release category, receive quality tackle prizes including high-end rods from St. Croix and Century. In the case of a tie, the earliest fish checked in gets the nod.
Saturday is also National Hunting and Fishing Day. Congress established this day to recognize hunters and anglers for their leadership roles in wildlife conservation. The day is a designated as a free fishing day in New York so no fishing license is required for freshwater fishing. To fish in Long Island’s saltwater environs, however, you’ll still need to sign-up for the free Recreational Marine Fishing Registry at https://decals.dec.ny.
Long Island’s white-tailed deer archery season begins on October 1. If you haven’t been practice shooting on a regular basis, don’t wait any longer. Knowing you can hit your target precisely builds confidence so you’ll be able to overcome any nervousness when that monster buck steps into your sights. It’s also a cornerstone of responsible hunting in any situation for New York State’s more than 235,000 bow-hunters.