With the Thanksgiving holiday upon us, there’s an urgency now to finish out the fishing and big game seasons on a strong note. That can be tough to do, given the propensity for high winds, chilly temperatures and rain or even snow to roll into town as we dig into the winter months.
Yet fishing and, to a lesser extent, hunting season, never really grind to a full stop here on Long Island. Blackfishing in the Long Island Sound region continues through Dec. 9 while blackfish season for the remainder of New York’s waters runs through Dec. 22. At that point anglers can switch to open and charter boat codfishing or mixed bag offshore wreck fishing if they haven’t already.
Ice fishing can come into play, too, if we get some frigid air heading into the New Year. Even on the big game hunting front, archery for whitetails continues through the end of January while the January firearms season opens on the 5th and continues through Jan. 31. Once deer season officially closes, many hunters will continue to take to the woods and fields looking for shed antlers and scouting new spots for next season.
For now, though, there can be no denying that options are becoming limited. With most private boats out of the water, charter and open boat fishing for blackfish remains the biggest draw. When the winds have been mild, action with the tautog has run fair to good out of Orient and Montauk points, Shinnecock Inlet and Jones Inlet.
“We’ve been scoring well with blackfish more often than not,” said Capt. Nick Savene of No Time Charters in Oceanside when I caught up to him by phone on Wednesday afternoon. “We are catching our limit on about half of our trips, just missing that mark some days, and occasionally having a tougher day when we have to move around a bit to scratch together a decent catch. Mostly, everyone has been going home with a pile of tasty fillets.”
Savene has been working a wide swath of water, concentrating on rough bottom and artificial reefs in 40- to 80-foot depths between Jones Inlet and the New Jersey coast. He noted that green crabs and white crabs are working equally, and anglers are catching blackfish both on blackfish jigs and standard bait rigs.
Out at Orient and Montauk points, skippers looking for blackfish have been running farther form port than in recent weeks. Some have turned their bows toward Block Island while others set a course beyond Fishers Island and up along the Rhode Island coast. Either way, captains have concentrated their efforts in 80- to 120-foot depths where, in addition to the ‘tog, a few keeper codfish have also made it over the rails.
With gusty winds predicted for the next few days, it will be interesting to see how the fishing holds up. It’s likely the remaining small stripers that have been entertaining anglers in the surf for much of the fall along both the North and South shores will finally depart for points farther south.
On the other hand, with most of the fleet remaining in port for a few days, favored reefs and wrecks will have some time to restock for bottom-fishing fans. That’s a tendency for which to be thankful, especially during the holiday season.