Where are the stripers? That's a question many anglers have been asking lately. With tons of bait already set up in ocean waters from the surf line out to 70-foot depths, and October being prime time for bass to be ripping up Long Island Sound as well, piscators have been awaiting a weather change to ignite the fall run. Six consecutive days of brisk breezes that ran from late last week through Monday may have finally pulled the trigger, at least along the central South Shore.
"The bass fishing has broken loose here," said Capt. Walter Czekaj of the Captree open boat Fishfinder II on Wednesday night. "The stripers are slamming tins and we've limited the boat on three trips in a row. It's definitely fun right now!"
According to Czekaj, the stripers are roaming 30- to 70-foot waters from Fire Island Inlet to Cherry Grove, exploding on large sand eels that sometimes measure 8 inches long. Most of the bass are in the 15- to 30-pound class, but pool winners have been pushing 35 to 40 pounds. Three- to 4-ounce silver diamond jigs have done the damage, with tubeless styles working best.
Generally, the bass have drifted eastward since the action first broke loose, with the epicenter having shifted from due south of Fire Island Inlet over toward Cherry Grove during the past few days. That has left anglers sailing from Jones and Debs inlets, which got a taste of the action early in the week, wondering when the bass will return. In the meantime, weakfish have sneaked under the baitfish schools off Jones Inlet and are providing some really great action.
"I was out looking for bass on Wednesday," said captain Ed Walsh of Jones Beach Fishing Station. "We couldn't track down any stripers, but we found weakfish under the sand eels. We had three of them in 30-foot depths, and eight more in 50 feet of water. That's really some spread."
Walsh added that shore fishermen have also had some good innings of late. Station regular Scott Polshansky used a bunker chunk to entice an 11-pound striper from the Jones Beach piers, while Shannon Burgess pulled a keeper weakfish from Green Island. Paul Limia used a green crab to drill a 19-inch keeper blackfish from the Robert Moses Piers on the south side of Fire Island Inlet.
Over on the North Shore, striper action is still hard to come by at most ports, but blackfishing and sea bass have really picked up the slack. Mark McGowan at Cow Harbor Bait and Tackle in Northport said the 'tog have been hitting well in 20- to 40-foot depths off most prominent points as well as Caumsett State Park.
For the sea biscuits, McGowan suggested trying the bar a little to the east of the Eatons Neck brush piles. Porgy and sea bass fishing has also been super at Port Jefferson, Mattituck, Orient Point, Greenport and Robins Island in Peconic Bay.
Freshwater trout fans will be happy to learn that trout fishing season at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve has been extended to Nov. 17, but fishing will be allowed on weekends only. The Friends of Caleb Smith are having a fly fishing tournament at the park tomorrow. Call 631-265-1054 for the details.