It's been an interesting and amazingly productive week for fishing. With flat seas some days and stiff winds on others, boaters have seen catches in flux based more on opportunity to reach productive water than anything else. Surf fans, on the other hand, have had it good if they picked the right beach at the right time.
To be sure, blackfishing is on fire all across Long Island when the seas are negotiable. 'Tog tuggers sailing from Orient, Greenport, Montauk and Shinnecock have tallied impressive scores in 40- to 60-foot depths with limit catches not unusual, and bulldogs to 9 pounds winning open boat pools on a regular basis. On Long Island Sound, the best of the action has shifted from shoreline points out to the Middle Grounds where some have tallied four-fish limits by mid-morning using green crab baits.
Also hot on Long Island Sound have been school stripers measuring 24 to 32 inches and larger. These continue to chase migrating schools of peanut bunker and solid catches have come from Glen Cove all the way east to Mattituck Inlet. Head out, look for diving birds and get on them with diamond jigs or popping plugs.
The linesiders have been sliding from east to west along the South Shore as well. Kurt Koncelik at Willie K's Bait and Tackle in Bay Shore enjoyed pounding blackfish east of Fishers Island on Monday but spent the rest of the week weighing linesiders for shop regulars who raved about the run of keepers both inside Great South Bay and outside on the ocean beaches.
In the bay and Fire Island Inlet, the stripers have been falling for live shad, eels and clam baits. Out in the ocean and from the surf, tins, poppers and cut bunker have ruled with bass to 33 pounds and the Captree fleet within a short ride of the best action.
"The next few days before the full moon should be prime,'' noted Koncelik, "especially for surf rats. Don't miss your chance.''
Indeed, surf fishing action this past week was super -- if you picked the right beach. Shinnecock East, Smiths Point, Robert Moses and Jones Beach West End 2 had slam dunk sessions along the South Side, while North Shore beaches along Sunken Meadow, Wading River, Riverhead, Southold and Orient have been hot one day, quiet the next and most productive at dusk.
There are, of course, many theories as to how to pin-point and time the arrival of stripers during the fall run. Some anglers drive the beach or move from spot to spot looking for bait. Wherever they find the most fodder, they set up and wait for the bass to arrive.
A second theory holds that it is best to stake out a single beach where you can simply wait for the bait and bass to show up. A third possibility advises to follow the reports and hope the fish set up in the same spot on the same tidal stage as prior days. Many anglers simply slide from beach to beach until they happen upon action in progress.
In the long run, it's great to have a theory, but remember: You can't roll the dice until you slip on your boots.