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Posted By Fred Golofaro, October 28, 2019
Blackfishing is off to its best start in years. Here’s Matt Brodsky with a chunky tog caught on the Smithtown Reef this past weekend.

Out east, the blackfish hysteria along the waters of the North Fork has kicked up a couple of notches as water temps near the peaking number of 55 degrees. Charter, open and private vessels focusing their efforts in the 30 to 50-foot depths of the eastern Sound, Big and Little Gull and Fishers Islands are feasting on tog galore to 9-1/2- pounds. Green and white crabs are doing the job, but it is paramount to be fishing over rocky lairs. Therefore, it’s a no brainer of this week’s best bet. The rocky grounds along the South Fork including the Shinnecock Reef are beginning to wake up with good togging to 8 pounds that are also chewing down crabs. Loads and loads of short togs are mixed with loads of keepers in the 3 to 6-pound range. Porgies are all but gone in the local waters, however they remain thick as molasses in the 80 to 100-foot depths south and east of Block Island. Sea bass being more tolerant of chilling waters, remain inshore along the rough terrain in the 50 to 80-foot depths. The biscuits are mixed size with the big knot heads concentrating east and south of Montauk with most boats concentrating their efforts by Block Island and the surrounding pieces. Unfortunately the green-eyed monsters better known as the infamous dogfish are also on the same grounds as the sea bass and scup. Codfish are in good numbers southeast of Block Island if you can get pass the hordes of doggies. Stripers are extremely abundant, but mainly on the small side around Montauk Point and along the eastern part of the Sound. Loads of false albacore are sharing the same areas as the stripers. Over at Shinnecock, reports of green bonito and false albacore are roaming in and out of the inlet while stripers to 25 pounds are slamming diamond jigs west of the inlet in 40 to 50 feet of water. Most trips were bagged on Sunday due to the blowout, which will most likely scramble things up in the deep blue and hopefully push the dogfish offshore and get the slob togs chewing.

Along the South Shore, the fall season is well underway with super striper fishing and some impressive catches of keeper blackfish. The sea bass bite on the local pieces remained very good with some cod and ling caught on the party boats too. That being said, I still feel the best bet would be striper action on the open ocean waters. This past week Top Gun Sportfishing Charters put Andy onto a 38 pounder on the bunker pods, while out of Bob’s Bait and Tackle, John Winston trolled up a 48 and 49! Over at Lindenhurst Bait and Tackle we heard that Tony Maja spoons produced several bass to 44 pounds. There are a ton of sand eels in the ocean, and bass are on them almost daily. You will not always catch a lot of keepers as evidenced on Saturday when I got out with Isa and Charlie to the ocean. We had at least 60 bass between us, but none over 27-1/2 inches! It still made for a great day. We had them at the 20-foot depths off Field 5 at Moses. If you like blackfish action, the Moses Bridge, Moriches Reef and rockpiles, and the FI Reef are all good starting points.

To the west, striped bass fans continue to enjoy a solid bite. Some of the top areas were the waters south and SW of Debs Inlet, east of Jones Inlet, west of Atlantic Beach Reef and south of the Rockaway Reef. Most bass were taken on the troll and fell to Mojos from 24 to 32-ounces, TGT bunker spoons and Spoon Fed bunker spoons. White, yellow and chartreuse were the top colors. The reports indicated that gold diamond jigs; hammered or smooth, nailed bass as well. The bass were located in depths averaging 55 to 65-ft. Blackfishing was good on local wrecks and reefs and near the bridges on jigs and green crabs. Fish to 8-pounds were drilled. Anglers basically ignored porgies and sea bass to concentrate on bass and blackfish.

Up on the North Shore, anglers are being treated to a blackfish bonanza. All reports indicated very good to excellent fishing with excellent numbers of shorts and a good amount of quality keepers to 8-pounds. Most anglers are employing jigs tipped with green or Asian crabs. You have numerous areas to choose from including Rye Playland, Execution Rock, Harts Island, Captains Island, Hudson Park, the Whitestone Bridge, Matinecock and the Connecticut coastline. Depending on the area the fish are inhabiting depths from 11 to 60 feet. Nice size sea bass are also being taken as a by catch at the blackfish grounds. Porgies are still offering decent action and larger size at Rye, Pea and Huckleberry Islands, Orchard Beach sections 1 and 13, and Matinecock. Overall bass activity was limited to schoolies along the shorelines and in the bays and harbors.

In the surf, school bass action remained hot in a number of areas this week, especially along the South Fork where crazy numbers were being reported into the weekend. Unfortunately, that was not the case for the Fire Island area where many of the participants in the South Shore Classic targeted their efforts. Many reported slow fishing through the weekend and only one keeper qualified for the striped bass division. That was a 15.74 pounder beached by John Mlodyivia worth $750. There were no bluefish entries which continues to be a disturbing trend which needs to be addressed by ASMFC sooner rather than later. The highlight of the contest came in the striped bass release division where Lee Scott returned a 52-inch striper of 50-plus pounds on Friday night. Dan Turdo’s 34 incher took second place and Nelson Felix nailed down third with a 32 incher. Jennifer Junk took the final spot with a 31-1/4 inch bass. The awards ceremony and the tent survived through winds gusting to 40 or more mph and heavy wind-blown rain. Despite the conditions, a large number of anglers turned out for the awards ceremony. Kudos to Brenden and his crew at Captree B&T, Jessica and Jonathan from State Parks headquarters, and Tim Byrne’s Captree/Robert Moses staff. Special thanks to Lamiglas, Ocean Born Lures, Al Gags Lures and Spro for their contributions to the contest.

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