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THE OREGON WRECK

On March 14, 1886 the 500 plus foot British passenger liner the Oregon met her fate when she collided with a schooner, most likely the Charles R Morse, and sunk approximately 15 miles south of Moriches Inlet.

By Tony Salerno
THE OREGON WRECK

Over a 130 years later, divers and fisherman continue to comb over the ghostly Cunard luxury liner where divers occasionally hit pay dirt, still finding rare artifacts that can only come from ghost ships over a century old. Fisherman sail from Shinnecock to Jones Inlet and beyond to reap the bounty of bottom dwellers and pelagic species that make seasonal stopovers to this oasis at the bottom of the Atlantic. With her bow facing north, the ship is in remarkably good shape with the bow being the most intact portion of the structure, while the mid-ship boiler stacks leave a significant mark on sonar screens.

The transom section of the ship reveals her age best, with pieces of the broken ship scattered on the bottom and its engines lying exposed. January through April is cod time at the Oregon, with much of the cod population favoring the bow of the ship. Actually, for reasons only the cod can tell you, the bow will hold the winter kings well into the summer season. I personally have caught market size fish here into August. My diving buddies tell me that what cod are on the piece during the summer, all stick closely to the bow of the wreck, rarely moving about the rest of the ship. Ling and even a few whiting make their presence known though the winter, with the ling pretty much favoring the hulls cubby holes most of the year.


As waters warm by mid-May, sea bass begin to populate the wreck and increase in population as the summer months roll in. The sea biscuits keep rods bending through November and even into mid-December depending on the weather. From June through the fall, blue, brown, thresher and some mako sharks make frequent visits to the Oregon and its bounty of sea life. However, it is really bluefish of all sizes that frequent the area during late summer and fall that the sharks are most interested in. Bluefish are a staple in the sharks’ diets and this wreck never fails to attract its share of blues.


October and November produce some of the best action of the season as big porgies, knothead sea bass and bluefish make up the bulk of the catch. Come late November and early December, blackfish steal the show with some slob tog over 10 pounds plucked from here every season. While the mid-ship stacks are best when looking for sea bass and scup, the engines in the stern is where most of the big tog come from. All in all, there’s always something to be caught here. Watch the weather, pick your days wisely, and go reap the rewards of the Oregon.

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