After a week of gusty winds that kept most boats in port, anglers couldn't wait to get out and test the waters over the past few days. What they found was a solid start to the fall run along both the North and South shores, as well as across the East End.
"We're into incredibly big blues, and lots of them," said a happy Capt. Ken Higgins, whose fares aboard the open boat Captree Pride were battling 15-pound choppers plus stripers up to 45 pounds as we spoke yesterday. "Yesterday, we limited out on bass and caught 200 giant blues. Today seems to be about the same."
According to Higgins, the blues are slamming diamond jigs while the bass want crippled herring jigs or bucktails tipped with pork rind. The action has ranged from 3 to 15 miles east of Fire Island Inlet with the predators feeding on sand eels and bunker.
Other boats from the Captree Fleet, including the Laura Lee and Island Princess, have been in on the fun. On Wednesday, the Princess started out catching sea bass on clams then switched to diamond jigging to limit out with stripers to 35 pounds while avoiding the blues. On Thursday skipper Rob Andresen found the bass again. This time they were mixed with the toothy 'gators.
Blues and stripers put in appearances at many other ports. Out at Montauk, both species rebounded from the heavy seas to the delight of surfcasters and boaters working in the shadow of the lighthouse. Another shot of bass and blues showed east of Shinnecock Inlet.
Big choppers, and a few stripers in the 20- to 30-pound class, have also surprised surfcasters using pencil poppers along North Fork beaches although that action has been less consistent. The pattern has been for the fish to show under diving birds and vanish after a few hours. Which beach they'll show at next is a guessing game that keeps anglers on the move from spot to spot.
Not to be overlooked, bottom bouncers also found the action rebounding this week.
"We've hammered sea bass, giant porgies and blackfish to 7 pounds," said Capt. James Schneider of the Huntington-based James Joseph II. "The winds moved the fish out to deeper water, so start your search in 50-foot depths."
Bottom fishing was also the highlight on the West End where Capt. Mike Wasserman of the Capt. Lou fleet in Freeport said near-shore blackfishing is off to a great start.
"We're hitting local reefs and seeing multiple anglers limit out while using crab baits," Wasserman said. "Outgoing water has the edge, so get out in the morning this weekend."
Farther west, Capt. Steve Kearney of the Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk said his fares were having a blast catching porgies, sea bass and blackfish on clam baits. "It's very steady action," he said, "The kind that sends everyone home with smiles and tasty fillets."
Weekend boat showsThe Tobay Beach In-Water Boat Show, canceled last weekend, will run this weekend. The show features 20 local boat dealers, hundreds of boats, and in-water test drives. Info at nyboatshows.com/tobay.
Port of Egypt Marine in Southold will host its annual In-Water Fall Boat Show this weekend, too. Visit poemarine.com for details.