The quickly moving storm last weekend changed the local angling scene dramatically. Water temperatures plunged 5 to 8 degrees, but waters were not badly muddied. Tautog are the main show for daytime boats while beaches are slow. The only questions for beach anglers is this: Is the “fall run” done, or will we still see bait and blitzes in the weeks ahead?
Rich Jensen, aboard the Nancy Ann out of Orient by the Sea on Tuesday told us the 57-degree water didn’t hurt the tautog. Parties catch limits. Scup seem to have exited on the last westerlies, and night fishing seems to be over with bass and blues now requiring a search by day. At We Go Fishing on the Main Road in Southold, Steven told us about bass and blues scattered along the beaches. Patient anglers could still pick occasional bass to 20 pounds from the bluefish.The water was choppy enough early this week to make bunker chunking the only show in town. Steven feels the season still has life, with tautog remaining on shallow pieces north of Plum Island.
Phil Loria at Captain Marty’s Fishing Station in New Suffolk was busy winterizing boats and selling bait, with plenty of green crabs available. There was one intriguing report of big blues to 13 pounds in the South Race, trolled by enterprising anglers using umbrellas and parachutes. Apparently bunker schools in the Peconic Bays have brought the marauders with them. Bill Czech at Jamesport Bait and Tackle in Mattituck mentioned blues scattered around Horton’s, McCabe’s, and Goldsmith’s as well as off Iron Pier to the west. The bite on chunks seems to fall off at dark. Czech is disappointed by the lack of concentration of fish on the beach; still the bite in the bay is encouraging. For anglers who want to play with small bass, there are some 16- to 20-inch stripers to be found in creeks like Deep Hole. Bucktails are good for catch and release. Rumors from the South Shore indicate that one big body of fish has moved west with larger bass now gone from the South Fork. Reports from Cupsogue of bass on live eels by daylight are only a memory.
Finally, Stan Hentschel at the Rocky Point Fishing Stop said there were five- and six-pound choppers off the beach locally on Sunday; scup were still being taken by party boats over the weekend in the mid-Island zone of Long Island Sound. Otherwise, tautog fishing is the ticket.