If you’ve been waiting all year for prime time to arrive on the outdoors scene, wait no longer, it’s here.
Leading the fall charge for anglers have been solid catches of blackfish and improving scores with striped bass. Hunters, too, have seen a noticeable uptick in action with white-tailed deer now in mid-rut. That means the bucks are on the lookout for does, a focus which sometimes causes record-racked bucks to drop their guard.
“Striper action was very good before the wind picked up Thursday,” said Mark Keller at Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside. “Most of the bigger fish were being caught in 55- to 60-foot depths off Lido Beach and South of Debs Inlet.”
According to Keller, trolled Spoon Fed electric green spoons accounted for the most action with keeper-sized bass, although Tony Maja and TGT spoons also produced. The biggest bass have been in the 30-pound class.
Bob Salinas at J&J Sports Centre in Patchogue said that surf action at Smiths Point, Democrat Point and along some of the East End beaches have offered plenty of action but not many keepers for anglers tossing bucktails and swim shads. When the wind has been reasonable, some anglers have caught and released up to 30 bass per trip on 1-ounce bucktails tipped with white Fat Cow Jigging Strips.
On the blackfish front, Salinas added that Matt Broderick had a limit of blackfish on the west side of Moriches Inlet on Wednesday. He used green crabs to creel his four-fish limit of ‘tog weighing 3 to 5 pounds.
Farther east, Jeff Lomonaco at White Water Marine Outfitters echoed the news of bass and blackfish action. “There haven’t been many big bass in the Shinnecock area but the quantity has been great," he said. "Cast Bill Hurley swimbaits and it’s hard to go wrong.
There are also blackfish along the Shinnecock Inlet jetties, and on the inshore reefs, added Lomonaco. “It’s a steady pick of ‘tog with a 4- to 5-pound average on the keepers,” he stated. “That’s good for blackfish around here.”
Steve Sponza of Wego Fishing Station in Southold was thrilled with the striper action when we spoke by phone on Thursday afternoon. That’s because anglers had been coming in all day to report a super blitz of short bass all along the North Fork from Riverhead east to Orient.
“Almost no keepers in the bunch,” chuckled Sponza, “But if you just want to have fun or take a kid fishing, it just doesn’t get any better than this.”
With all the bass along the North Fork over the past few days, it’s been easy to overlook the great blackfish action taking place in that stretch as well. The ‘tog have been hitting hot and heavy both from the shore and in deep water around rocks and mussel beds. Green crabs have been the key.
As for the whitetails, Danny Azzato at Fish Unlimited Taxidermy in Oakdale keeps close watch on the Long Island herd. “We are right in the middle of the rut now,” he revealed. “It’s easy to tell because for the past week about 80% of the deer we’ve received for and mounting have been bucks, some quite large.”
This weekend, with a cold front moving in and nearly full moon, should see the rut reach its peak, says Azzato. “Those are conditions that really trigger big buck movement so don’t wait to get out," he said. "Right now is prime time.”