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Monster blackfish caught in New York Harbor

To the ever-growing list of big fish that will be hard to top, local anglers can add the monster blackfish caught by Yakov Elkin of Brooklyn. While fishing in about 35 feet of water near the West Bank Lighthouse of New York Harbor on Nov. 11, Elkin wrestled aboard a 20.65-pound bulldog that, if certified, should rank as a state record for the species.

The behemoth, which measured 301/4 inches long and a whopping 22 inches in girth, ate a green crab. The current state blackfish record is a 19-pound, 12-ounce brute decked by Jim Burgon of Riverhead in August 1992. The world record for blackfish is a 25-pound lunker caught off Ocean City, N.J., in 1998 by Anthony Monica.

Long Island's blackfish action seemed to take a breather for a few days after the stiff winds of last week, but catches are clearly on the rebound with solid scores reported from 35 to 50 feet of water in Long Island Sound, 40- to 70-foot depths off Orient Point, and 40- to 90-foot depths at Montauk and along the South Shore. Green crabs have been the top bait.

Striper fans continue to score from both beaches and boats. Surf fishing has been best under the light at Montauk, off the beach at Napeague and Amagansett, and along Robert Moses Beach out to Democrat Point when the area isn't closed because of high tides or beach erosion. Boaters have connected using diamond jigs, trolling tubes and umbrella rigs, or drifting clam baits in and around the South Shore inlets.

"Fire Island Inlet has been on fire for bass and big bluefish," said Toshiko Koncelik at Willie K's Bait and Tackle Shop in Bay Shore. "Anglers casting tins have done well from Democrat Point and near the Sore Thumb. Boaters using clam and clam chum have done very well inside the inlet."

Turkey season to start

Long Island's first official turkey season is set to open tomorrow and will run through Wednesday. "I'm sure there will be a lot of people out trying for turkey," said Jessica Maxfield, a Fish and Wildlife technician at the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Check Station in Ridge.

Hunters can target the newly legal game birds with gun or bow. There are significant turkey populations on most of the larger blocks of NYS DEC-managed public lands, including the Rocky Point Natural Resources Management Area, Otis G. Pike Preserve and Sarnoff Pine Barrens Preserve. The East Hampton Cooperative Area is not open to turkey hunting.

"This is a new hunting experience on Long Island and you may feel a rush of excitement as that first turkey comes into view," Maxfield said. "Remember, as always, to check beyond your target and ensure all is safe before taking the shot."

Turkeys harvested on DEC-managed land must be brought to the Ridge Check Station (631-924-3156) for collection of biological data. The DEC suggests that birds taken on private land be checked as well. For information on permits and hunting on NYS lands, visit the DEC Web site at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/40414.htmlE-mail: outdoortom@optonline.net

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