With the steady transition to cooler temperatures, blackfishing has hit full stride along the north and south shores. Although the tautog, or simply 'tog, as blackfish are called have been in season for more than a month, it is usually the chilly temperatures of early November that solidify the bite in the deeper waters where the biggest bulldogs are taken.
"We're catching well right now with 60 to 75 solid keepers a trip,'' said Mike Boccio of the Orient Point charter boat Prime Time III (www.primetimefishing.com). The action is building and these next few weeks leading up to Thanksgiving are the premiere point of the season.''
As Boccio explains, the blackfish are now beginning to retreat from the shallows as water temperatures drop. As they do, the fish stack up around submerged boulders, wrecks and along rocky ledges and mussel beds. If you can anchor over a nice piece of deep structure and get a crab bait to the bottom, your odds of success are pretty good.
Capt. James Schneider of the Huntington open boat James Joseph II agreed that the time is right to go after blackfish. "We've had a great week so far. Monday we needed only two drops to fill our limits; on Tuesday we needed only one!''
On Wednesday, Schneider's fared collected nine bulldogs weighing between 8 and 11.75 pounds in their catch, and Thursday saw solid action as well. "That blow last weekend really got things going here,'' said Schneider. "The bite often intensifies when the winds blow hard out of the east or northeast for a few days and then calm down and swing around to the northwest. That's exactly what happened late last week and now blackfish are hitting hot and heavy. All the usual baits are working: green crabs, Asian crabs and fiddlers. We're finding great action anywhere from buoy 11B to over on the Connecticut side.''
"We're almost at our boat limit for the day,'' said Mike Wasserman of the Captain Lou Fleet at lunchtime Thursday. "We've got some beautiful fish to 9 pounds and solid action around the boat. The snow, rain and winds really cooled the water here last weekend but we couldn't get out until the seas calmed down. Now, the blackfish are fired up and our fares are having a great day.''
If you've been waiting to hear that the blackfish action is in full swing before heading out, consider this official notice. The fishing is super. Some of the South Shore boats are also targeting RSA sea bass and many are heading out for stripers.
Sportfish course offered
The Suffolk County Department of Parks, Recreation and Conservation offers its popular "Sport Fishing on Long Island'' evening course starting Nov. 21 at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge. Former Montauk charter skipper Jerry McGrath is the instructor. Call (631) 854-4947.
1. Orient Point (blackfish/striped bass/bluefish)
2. Montauk (striped bass/blackfish/bluefish)
3. Cupsogue Beach (striped bass/bluefish
4. Fire Island Inlet/Captree (striped bass/sea bass/blackfish)
5. Jones Beach Piers (striped bass/shad/blackfish)
6. Point Lookout (sea bass/blackfish/striped bass)
7. Buoy 11B (blackfish/bluefish)
8. Old Field Point (blackfish/porgy)
9. Huntington (blackfish/striped bass)
10. Port Washington (blackfish/bluefish)