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December 4, 2013
Fishing Column: Fish are biting near and far
We’ve had a lot of unstable air this past week, making it difficult to plan a trip without the threat of being peppered by a passing thunderstorm. Anglers who did get out found mixed bags of bluefish, porgies, sea bass and fluke. And the usual bass spots to the northeast continued to yield strong catches depending on tide, bait and drift location. Offshore fishing reports are also beginning to filter in.
Gregg Petry, his dad Dick and crew, including Richie Lenzer, took the Pridwin boat out to Block Canyon last week in search of yellowfin tuna and any other offshore species that would look good on the Pridwin restaurant’s dining menu. They managed one yellowfin, dropping another at the rail and missing a few more opportunities during the overnight. Although the tuna pick was a little disappointing, they supplemented their catch with a hold full of mahi mahi.
This was the Pridwin’s first offshore trip of the season. Gregg said there was some life out there, describing whales and dolphins feeding, but there was nothing happening on the troll. They weren’t expecting much action during the night as reports of a night bite hadn’t been promising. But some 60- to 70-pound class fish did show up, following the chunk trail to the boat.
Chunking is basically chumming with large pieces of baitfish, typically butterfish or anchovies, cut into half-dollar-sized chunks.
Speaking of the Pridwin Hotel, Islander Chris Tehan was fishing the area in front of the boat ramp across from the Perlman Music Program, next door to the hotel. The tide was going out but an eddy was slowly pushing Chris west toward the Pridwin.
“Something kept stealing my three-inch squid,” Chris said, “So I put on a small porgy hook and a smaller squid strip and got him.”
What he caught was a triggerfish in the two-and-a-half-pound range.
Triggerfish have an exotic appearance, at least for these parts, where we’re used to the sleek torpedo shapes of bluefish and bass.
Triggers are oval with spiny anterior dorsal fins and larger, softer posterior fins. The tailfin ends in points at top and bottom, completing its resemblance to a giant angelfish. Chris bagged a grey trigger, the least colorful of the more than 30 members of the triggerfish family, but the best eating, according to most sources.
Chris mentioned that triggerfish are usually caught around rocks and jetties along the south shore of Long Island, and are common down South in warmer water. If you catch a trigger, be careful of the dorsal fin. And don’t be fooled into a sense of security by the fish’s small mouth — it’s equipped with razor-sharp teeth and very strong jaws.
If you have an old rod you want repaired or are thinking about having a custom rod built to your specifications, give Chris a call at 902-5687. He can build a rod to target specific species whether you fish from the beach or a boat. You can get a basic rod for around $200 and use that price as a starting point if you want some fancier hardware.
If you’re like me, you have a pile of old rods leaning in a corner of your basement destined for some future yard sale or the Goody Pile at the dump. Chris says instead of throwing those damaged rods out, give him a call. He can replace busted or missing guides and match the colors of the existing wraps. Guides come in around $30 and tips between $10 and $15. Those prices can vary and some repairs may be a little more involved. He’ll look at any rod and give you an idea of what it will cost to restore it. Blanks on the other hand are difficult but not impossible to replace.
“I will look at any repair,” Chris said, adding that even if you think the rod’s a junker, “Don’t throw it out. Sometimes the blank’s real nice and worth rebuilding.” He also takes old rods for parts so, even if it’s not worth fixing, it may serve a purpose. If you want to email Chris, his address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
BOTTOM DWELLERS, BLUES
Although fluking locally has tailed off, other bottom dwellers have filled the void. Porgies and the occasional sea bass can be found off the east side of the Island between Mashomack and Cedar Point. Porgies are notorious bait stealers and sometimes snub squid strips, which are firmer than clams and give you more opportunities to hook the fish. If you’re serious about porgies, research some clam brining methods and try that. In fact, brining cut baits for all types of bottom fish has its advantages. And bring some frozen clam chum to attract the porgies and lure them into a feeding frenzy. Pull the pot when the fish show up in numbers; drop it back down when the bite slows.
Cocktail blues are patrolling waters around the Island and are a great diversion when the bottom fishing slows. On a hot, still day, I always welcomed a little artificial breeze supplied by trolling the bays for blues. Generally, you can troll some up out by Jessups and around the mouth of Coecles Harbor. If you’re willing to travel a bit farther, you can run down pods of bluefish in Gardiners Bay from the south shore of Plum Island right up to the Ruins. Look for the telltale swarms of terns in the air to pinpoint the fish.