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Black sea bass season opens with a bang

A young Black Sea Bass is retrieved from

A young Black Sea Bass is retrieved from the trawling nets on board the R/V Peconic, a research vessel with Stony Brook University, Southampton Campus, on the Shinnecock Bay in Southampton. Stony Brook University announced $3 million in private donations for the Shinnecock Bay Restoration Program, to restore the health and vitality of the Shinnecock Bay in the town of Southampton. (Aug. 27, 2012) Credit: Randee Daddona

Tuesday's opening of black sea bass season on Long Island was expected to be a good one and the tasty, knob-headed prowlers of wrecks and rocky bottom did not disappoint. From the West End on out to Montauk, along both the South and North shores, the bite proved solid.

"We had very good sea bass action this week with ling, porgies and fluke coming up, too," said Capt. Steve Kearney of the Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk. "We've been fishing over rubble piles in 50- to 60-foot depths anywhere from a half-hour east to a half-hour west of Jones Inlet. Anglers using lighter tackle have had an edge over those using heavy gear, so leave the deep sea outfits home."

Freeport's Captain Lou Fleet found similar results, with happy fares taking home enough fillets for dinner and some sea bass topping 4 pounds. "Some days have seen good results, other days have been excellent," is how captain Anthony Gillespie summarized the action. The best scores have come to anglers who don't overload their hooks with bait. "All you need is a two-inch strip of clam," the skipper said.

On the North Fork, captain John Bowen of the Captain Bob Fleet in Mattituck has continued to target fluke with a steady pick of keepers and some very nice sea bass mixing into the catch. "Action hasn't been that fast," said Bowen, "but we've had some really nice fish come over the rail. Pool-winning fluke this week topped out at nine pounds, and some of the sea bass were real monsters. Raquel Noriega-Manuel drilled a six-pounder on Wednesday."

Captain Dave Brennan of the Peconic Star in Greenport has stayed focused on porgies as the rough weather prevented longer runs to some of his sea bass hot spots. Still, his fares pulled steady catches of scup with sea bass to 31/2 pounds as well. With the weather likely to smooth out over the next few days, Brennan expects to run a little farther in the hopes of adding more sea bass to his hauls.

Fluke, stripers still on tapTargeting sea bass provides a nice change of pace from pounding fluke, but the summer flatties remain in good supply inside Fire Island Inlet, in eastern Moriches Bay, on the Shinnecock flats west of Ponquogue Bridge and in the rips off Montauk Point. The waters inside and outside of Fire Island Inlet were especially productive this past week with fish to 6 pounds topping many catches. Look for even bigger doormats in the deeper holes around Robert Moses Bridge.

Though the action with the flatfish has been spotty on the North Shore, it is still possible to catch enough keepers for dinner in 17- to 20-foot depths on Smithtown Bay, in 20- to 30-foot depths along the edges of the Eatons Neck Triangle, and in 12- to 20-foot depths both east and west of Mattituck Inlet. Bucktails and spearing combos remain the go-to baits in this stretch.

Striper action slowed considerably on the South Shore but remains strong at Montauk with live eels the top offering. Action has also picked up slightly at Orient on bucktails.

In Long Island Sound, stripers to 35 pounds fell to bunker chunks this week off Horton's Point and in 30- to 50-foot depths outside Mount Sinai Harbor.

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