04/26/15 12:00pm
04/26/2015 12:00 PM

Horses and boats have much in common. When you begin to fish frequently from small craft and subsequently sail on larger party boats, you see the obvious advantages of having your own boat. When you take trail rides or pack trips with horses or rent horses to ride in field trials for pointing dogs, you quickly see the advantages of having your own horse, too. But then you look at the big picture, and you wonder: Should I really be doing this?  (more…)

08/31/14 7:00am
08/31/2014 7:00 AM
A surf fisherman at Iron Pier Beach on the Sound. (Credit: Barbarallen Koch file photo)

A surf fisherman at Iron Pier Beach on the Sound. (Credit: Barbarallen Koch file photo)

Summer fishing in the area keeps living up to high expectations, according to recent reports. Capt. Dave Brennan of the Peconic Star out of Greenport was enthusiastic about the large numbers of sea bass, often running five or six pounds. Scup numbers are also good. Dave feels you have to find fish in new areas because many of the old mussel beds that concentrated fish in the traditional places have disappeared.

At WeGo Fishing in Southold, Alex mentioned plenty of keeper scup in the Peconics, especially in the Noyac area, where sea bass, “kingfish” (northern whiting) and weakfish can be found as well. Anglers fishing diamond jigs catch cocktail blues around Jessups Neck, and there are plenty of snappers in the bay.

Charlie Caraftis at Mattituck Fishing Station and Marina on Mattituck Creek explained that bass have been hard to find off Hortons Point but gorilla bluefish remain and are especially active as the sun rises. Chunking is often the method of choice. Sea bass outnumber scup inshore, with many nice fish in the four- to five-pound class. Not many anglers are bothering with fluke right now, but there was one six-pound weakfish noted, taken by an angler jigging for blues in deep water.

Bill Czech at Jamesport Bait and Tackle in Mattituck reported only spotty beach action, with blues and small bass off Cupsogue Beach and a few bass taken off Hortons on eels. Long Island Sound beaches have cocktail blues in some places early and late. Scup specialists often head east to Fishers Island or Block Island, but there was a shot of large porgies up to 17 inches around Buoy 17 last week.

Roses Grove and Nassau Point waters produce some weakfish in the 14- to 16-inch range and small pan-size kingfish abound along bay beaches as well. With bunker schools so tight to South Shore beaches, humpback whales and sharks have been seen close inshore. One fluke angler wound up with a thresher estimated at 150 pounds on the end of a rig, and makos have been taken regularly only 10 to 14 miles out.

06/29/14 6:00am
06/29/2014 6:00 AM
Grilled black sea bass and blackfish accompanied by saffron rice and asparagus. (Credit: John Ross, file)

Grilled black sea bass and blackfish accompanied by saffron rice and asparagus. (Credit: John Ross, file)

A good friend of ours who happens to be a terrific angler has often remarked that we’re foolish to “keep” fish for the table when all we have to do is head for a local market and choose wisely from the iced fish on display. He points out that such seafood is surely a lot cheaper and obtained with a lot less trouble, given the cost of travel and tackle (and boats).  (more…)

03/30/14 7:00am
03/30/2014 7:00 AM
This weather is for these birds in Jamesport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

This weather is for these birds in Jamesport. (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)

As we write a late March column, it’s fun to look out a window and see blue sky. In the morning, on the way to work, I hear competing cardinals, and, upstate on weekends, the turkey flocks are out and about in our driveway, picking gravel and driving the dogs crazy.

(more…)

08/24/13 8:00am
08/24/2013 8:00 AM

FILE PHOTO | For years, anglers turned to Newsday columnist Nick Karas for reports on the outdoors.

To the editor:

I don’t know where to start when discussing Capt. Nick Karas’ impact on fishermen like me.

I read his columns continuously throughout his career at Newsday. I missed very few. He always put me right there as if I were his shadow.

The first time we met was at Salivar’s in Montauk during an evening before a cod trip in the very early ’70s. A few years later, despite our initial conversations, I felt strangely intimidated when I called him to ask if he would accompany a large group of fourth-graders on a school boating and fishing field trip I had planned. Naturally, he followed his guest appearance with a wonderful and accurate column on our adventures at sea.

Thank you again, Nick. After that, I would see Nick regularly at the winter outdoor shows or on the Orient or Montauk docks. I was always greeted with a friendly smile and an enthusiastic hello. He frequently spoke of the refurbished center console that he now took charters from. A few years ago, he joined my dinner guests, consisting mostly of fishing addicts, as a guest speaker at a local restaurant. He did a fine job of outlining and discussing sight-casting on the flats for large and small stripers.

Nick Karas wrote so much about the outdoors, his writing credits are way too many to list. They were all terrific works.

What stands out the most to me is “The Complete Book of Striped Bass Fishing.” It is considered by many to be the bible for linesider anglers. Nick’s attention to detail is overwhelming. The book is a must-read for every bass angler, including the best of the pros.

Sadly, Nick Karas will be missed by many, including this angler.

RIP, Capt. Nick.

Capt. Jerry McGrath, Wading River

Mr. McGrath is a licensed charter boat captain and the owner of Sportfishing Adventures in Calverton. He’s a retired Shoreham-Wading River schoolteacher.

08/12/12 4:00am
08/12/2012 4:00 AM

We were going to a restaurant the other night with old friends who trialed field dogs with us over the years and asked for directions. One of them pulled out pen and paper and said, “Here, I’ll draw you a map!” It was a fine document and got us there without difficulty.

Here was an “aha” moment; this sequence is now quite unusual because mapmaking is a lost art for many outdoors persons. In a world of Google Earth, GPS, On Star and computerized voices like Siri, it’s no wonder that the need to sketch or read a detailed map appears old-fashioned, even irrelevant. This observation applies, I suppose, as long as technology works for you. However, if you have no laptop, if you are in an area where wireless signals are poor or non-existent, e.g., some wilderness areas in the Adirondack Park or roads through the mountains of Pennsylvania, then what?

Also, because computer technology from the very beginning was only as good as the early programmers, (i.e., “garbage in equals garbage out”) and because much of today’s software is written by wonks who haven’t a clue about local details, some really crazy situations arise when technology goes awry or androids make decisions for you. Several seasons back, a couple of friends from northern New England with no knowledge of Long Island wanted to get to a trial in Calverton with their horses and set out confidently, using their GPS. Somehow they tracked all the way west to the New York Thruway and the Major Deegan Expressway, then wound up on the Cross Bronx Expressway just in time for Friday evening rush hour — a nightmare!

Our north country home up against the Canadian border lies on a road, Jones Road, which ends next to our house, but there is a track through the woods going north, an old military trail once intended for border protection and later used by bootleggers and locals to get to Canada. It emerges a couple of miles north onto an east-west country road, but the track is really for ATVs or hikers. Still, every so often, we’ll see someone come crashing out of the woods in a 4×4 pickup, looking somewhat dazed. Inevitably, this is a pilgrim following a GPS or a Google Map that clearly shows “Jones Road Extension.”

Live and learn.

The best maps give an overall picture, showing not only roads and landmarks, but accurate distances, too. Looking for a field trial, a hunting camp, or a restaurant — it’s all the same; you’ve got to be precise about how far you’ve come and where you turn. The same holds true for sailors and anglers reading nautical charts. It’s well and good for a skipper to punch in numbers and get precisely onto some patch of bottom or some little wreck where the fish were yesterday. But, we’re spoiled to the point where we have a hard time figuring out new waters for which there is only scant information.

If you rented a livery skiff from the Lorias 40 years back, Captain Marty’s would supply you with a simple map showing shorelines, islands, reefs and buoys. Given the layout and some numbers (like distances from points or time of travel at cruising speed) you could pretty well get to the desirable areas, even if there were no other boats fishing there. If you had a depth recorder, great; otherwise, you dropped a sinker overboard on a fixed line and checked both depth and, by bumping the sinker, the type of bottom. Often you could pick out features on shorelines directly fore and aft as well as off both stern and bow. The intersection of the two lines gave you a triangulated position that you could note. If you needed to drift a bit, you carried a couple of marker buoys — empty plastic milk jugs and heavy sinkers on lines wrapped around the jugs. Toss one overboard and you had the spot marked perfectly (at least until the tide ran so fast that the jug submerged). This also served nicely to mark where a body of bottom hugging flounder might be feeding so you could drift over the hot spot repeatedly. No GPS or Loran numbers required.

This “lost art” itself, like mapmaking, can still come in handy when you find yourself in some little embayment in a borrowed skiff a thousand miles away from home and you want to catch your supper as we did on Cape Breton Island some 20 years back. The winter flounder there were extraordinary, too! Similarly, locating a deep spring in a mountain pond you’ve never fished before usually requires a tip or two, a homemade map, and the skills of triangulation.

If you can make and read simple maps and find your way around new areas, you shouldn’t need to ask yourself, “Where am I?” Or answer, “I dunno!”