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SportsOutdoors

Despite cold weather, Long Island fishing starts to warm up

With the threat of blustery weather over their heads this weekend, local anglers are weighing their options and hoping they may still get to sample some fishing action. Reports have been slim so far this young season but there are some encouraging signs.

For starters, osprey are arriving across Long Island on a daily basis. Hiking along a North Fork beach on Monday I spied two transporting fresh-caught meals to their perches. One had a largemouth bass in its talons, the other a pickerel, so it seems freshwater species are sliding into the shallows.

Another good sign is the return of alewives to local tidal rivers. They are already cramming into the Peconic and Carmans River systems, plus some other outlets to the bays and Sound. The DEC is catching some and transporting them to the Twin Ponds in Centerport, Swan Lake in East Patchogue and Beaver Lake in Mill Neck in an attempt to jump-start populations in those locations.

Striped bass season remains closed in marine waters until April 15, but there have been rumblings of catch and release action in Jamaica Bay, Connetquot River and various South Shore tidal creeks. Expect the waters of Manhasset Bay to perk up next.

It remains to be seen if the charter and party boat fleet will leave the dock over the next several days, but there are a few hopefuls looking to sail. The Super Hawk out of Point Lookout will seek cod, pollock and ling on April 7, 8, 11, 13, 14 and 15. The Starstream II in Freeport has offshore tilefish treks leaving April 20 and 27. The Viking Fleet will run Georges Bank trips for cod, haddock, hake and pollock departing April 16 and 30. They will also sail for tilefish on April 20 and 27. Call for reservations.

All things considered, targeting stocked trout is probably the best bet at the moment. Freshly stocked rainbows and browns thrive in cool water and that’s the order of the day right now.

Unfortunately, one of Long Island’s favorite trout venues — the Spring Family Fishing Festival at Belmont Lake State Park scheduled for Saturday — has been canceled due to the prospect of cold, inclement weather. The fish have already been stocked, and DEC will provide staff at the lake from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. with rods to loan and free bait for those who wish to brave the elements and give it a try.

n Gil Bergen will be remembered

Many in the fishing community were saddened to learn of Gil Bergen’s passing on Wednesday at the age of 88. As supervisor of Connetquot River State Park Preserve since 1973 and superintendent of the privately owned Southside Sportsman’s Club starting in 1960, he spent more than 57 years overseeing, nurturing and protecting nearly 4,000 acres of amazing biodiversity smack in the middle of suburbia.

While the park grew famous under his direction for world-class trout fishing, it also provided opportunities for horseback riding, hiking, birding, photography and more.

Bergen saw Connetquot Park as a place to learn, to respect and, as he often noted, “a little slice of Long Island the way it used to be.” How fortunate we were to have had such a fine steward at the helm for over half a century.

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