Black sea bass season finally opened on Tuesday and the pugnacious bottom dwellers didn’t disappoint. Catches ranged from fair to good along both the North and South shores with many anglers adding their three-fish limit to a mixed bag that included fluke, porgy, ling, bluefish and even stripers.
“We put together some decent catches on Fire Island Reef,” said Patrick Gillen of the Captree open boat, Capt. Gillen. “We limited out with sea bass on opening day and have seen a mix of shorts and keepers since with porgy, ling and a few fluke mixed into the fun.”
On the North Shore, Capt. Mark McGowan of Cow Harbor Bait and Tackle in Northport said that local anglers were happy to add some tasty sea bass to scores of fluke and porgies taken between Lloyd Point and Crab Meadow Beach. The biggest fluke, he said, have been holding along channel edges and in submerged boulder fields.
Bluefish have also moved into the waters off Huntington, inhaling bunker chunks and exploding on silver Cotton Cordell poppers off Asharoken Beach. The big news in this area is the stellar porgy action now underway from both boat and shore. Clams and sand worms have enticed the scup with catches most outstanding off Sunken Meadow and Caumsett State Park.
To the east, catches of porgy and stripers continue to please out of Montauk, Orient and Shinnecock. Fluke fishing has been decent in these areas as well, and sea bass fishing seems to be off to a great start.
To celebrate the sea bass opener on Tuesday, Capt. Mike Boccio stopped his Orient Point charter/open boat Jenglo at various spots between Orient and Montauk — hitting a home run on every single drop. “We limited the boat on sea bass to 4 pounds, boated porgies to 3 pounds, iced a dozen fluke to 6 pounds and pulled a limit of stripers to 32 pounds. It was a heck of a trip,” he concluded.
Before adding sea bass to your mixed-bag target list, be sure to note that the minimum size is 15 inches. The three-fish creel limit extends through Aug. 31, after which it increases to eight fish from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31, and then 10 fish from Nov. 1 through Dec. 31. Note also that black sea bass are measured from the tip of the snout (jaw) with the mouth closed to the farthest extremity of the tail, not including the tail filament.
One fish that doesn’t seem to need a size or creel limit these days is the lowly sea robin, a species which tends to be overly cooperative at this point in the season. Many anglers groan in frustration while reeling in “bird” after “bird,” yet a growing number are quietly taking a few home from each trip. Filleted or with tail meat removed ala blowfish, they fry up tasty, grill quickly and can be the featured ingredient in an excellent seafood chowder or salad.
Sea robins may not be a fan favorite but they are a logical choice if you need to put some food on the table. One place they don’t belong, however, is discarded along the sea shore. Like any other fish you might catch they should be released — unharmed — if they don’t end up in your cooler.