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SportsOutdoors

North Fork finally gets its striper run

While the South Shore of Long Island has enjoyed a striped bass run of epic proportions over the past few weeks, the normally dependable fall blitzes on the North Fork had been nearly nonexistent this year until just a few days ago. Finally, the birds are diving along beaches from Riverhead east to the Oyster Ponds access point in Marion.

While the local crew was quick to get on the fish with diamond jigs, small soft-plastics and even Epoxy Minnow flies, the throngs of surfcasters from farther west that usually make their way out to these parts to pop slammer blues just before Thanksgiving have mostly stayed closer to home. That's because South Shore and West End action has remained fairly steady. Another reason is that the stripers being caught on the East End have tended to run small, often measuring less than 20 inches, and the chopper blues haven't really shown at all.

Still, if you live anywhere between Wading River and Orient Point, this weekend should be a good one to grab a light, seven-foot stick, a half-ounce bucktail or Ava 27 tubeless diamond jig, and head down to the beach with fishing proteges in tow. Nothing beats close-to-home fast action when trying to groom the next generation of anglers. Consider school to be in session.

If you live in Western Suffolk or Nassau County the ocean beaches and near shore waters continue to offer your best bets. While catches may be more sporadic than a week or two ago, there's still a chance of pulling bigger fish from among the hordes of 18- to 24-inch schoolies currently dominating catches. Diamond jigs continue to be the ticket as the stripers remain focused on sand eels.

Expect the best of the South Shore striper action to come from between Jones and Fire Island inlets, although you'll likely connect anywhere between Breezy Point and the west side of Shinnecock Inlet should you cast to the start of an ebbing tide.

On the bottom scene, the blackfish bite has resumed at full strength in western Long Island Sound following the latest round of strong, full moon tides. Anglers working rocky ledges in 30- to 40-foot depths have been picking limits of tog to six pounds, with a few bigger bulldogs keeping sharpies on their toes. As has been the case all fall, those using lightweight blackfish jigs weighing one-half to three-quarter ounces have outscored those anchoring crab baits to the bottom with heavy sinker setups. Solid tautog reports this week came from the Port Washington, Huntington, Port Jefferson, Orient and Greenport areas.

Open boat vessels out of Shinnecock, Moriches, Captree, Freeport and Point Lookout have recorded nice mixed bags of blackfish taken from rubble piles in 50-foot depths, plus a generous mix of sea bass, porgies and triggerfish in 70- to 80-feet of ocean water. While the scup and triggers want clam baits, the biggest blackfish just about everywhere continue to fall for time-honored green crabs. For some reason, this year's bulldogs have shunned hermit crab baits, and nibbled with little conviction on fiddler and Asian crabs. The greenies, however, have been gobbled almost immediately after reaching bottom.Email: outdoortom@optonline.net

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