If you are looking to give thanks this holiday season from a sporting perspective, you can start with the fishing. With one of the warmest falls on record, stripers, blackfish and sea bass are still in play and are offering some of the best catches of the year.
That's certainly the case with bottom fishing. Capt. Steve Kearney of the Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk called the action on his long range wreck trips "as good as it gets."
"We've been running 60- to 80-mile offshore wreck trips and the catches have been super," Kearney said. "Most trips see the boat limit-out with black sea bass to 6 pounds, the biggest porgies you've ever seen, plus a few cod and some pollack. The bottom-fishing around here just doesn't get any better."
Indeed, offshore action with sea bass has been hot from every port along Long Island's South Shore, and blackfishing has been solid as well. The white chins have been coming from shallower water, generally 50 to 60 feet deep, with 4- to 6-pounders not unusual.
Blackfish also continue to entertain anglers in Long Island Sound waters, and out at Orient Point, Greenport and, especially, Fishers Island. These fish are now out in the middle of the Sound taking green crab baits, or in 30- to 60-foot depths off the easternmost points of the North Fork.
Stripers, too, have been in good supply, but these are generally coming from the surf, inlets and close to the beach. On the North Shore, the action has been hit or miss but anglers have had good sessions working anywhere from Riverhead east to Orient, where schoolies and a few keepers have slammed white bucktails tipped with Uncle Josh Pork Rind.
On the South Shore, the stripers can be found along open ocean beaches between Shinnecock and Breezy Point with the inlet areas all stacking up as hot spots. The open ocean action has been best on diamond jigs, while surfcasters are scoring with bucktails, diamond jigs and poppers during the day and needlefish or SP Minnows after dark. In the inlets, live eels, herring, shad and bunker have all scored with keepers to 30 pounds.
Odds and ends Bowhunters looking for a change of pace might want to take a few hours off from posting over their usual whitetail beats and give turkey a try during the next few days. Long Island's short season for the big birds started last Saturday and runs through Dec. 4.
This weekend also unofficially kicks off fishing flea market season. The always popular Lindenhurst Fall Fishing Flea Market (fishingfleamarkets.com) runs from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Saturday. The yearly event has a new location: Fireman's Pavilion on Heiling Blvd. Here you'll find plenty of new, used and antique fishing gear plus great door prizes. Admission is $5.
Hard to believe but it's time to sign up for Capt. Jerry McGrath's annual Sportfishing on Long Island class. Sponsored by Suffolk County Parks Department, the eight-week program, in its 31st year, is scheduled for Tuesday evenings starting Jan. 12. The fee is $130, with discounts for kids and seniors. Call 631-854-4947 for info.