By Gerry Helmle (Captain Seaweed) and Rich Tenreiro of R&G Bait and Tackle
Now that the fall fishing season is over and my boat waits patiently in its cradle for the arrival of the spring flounder season, it's time to look back and savor the memories of the season past.
Louie's Annual Bluefish Tournament - Blue 17 3/4
(L.-R.): Dick Zwerlein, Gerry Helmle, Rich Tenreiro.
Flounder made an impressive return after several seasons of minimal catches. Fish up to 2 1/2 pounds were to be found in several locations around the harbor. Especially interesting were the copious amounts caught around the town dock and band shell areas. Coinciding with-and even upstaging of-the flatties were hordes of sublegal bass that people caught by accident while floundering.
In April while the schoolies and flounder prevailed, the large bass moved to the bunker schools inside the harbor. Lots of linesiders were boated by anglers using bunker chunks for bait. The hot action inside continued well into May, while catch and release was the M.O. of the day. May brought the opening of the striped bass season and Pete Sequist of Port Washington, a member of the Manhasset Bay Sportsmen's Club (MBSC), won the R&G Bait and Tackle First Annual Striped Bass Tournament with a whopping 40.2 pound striper. Later in May the action shifted to the harbor entrance where the bass action became so intense that in order to maintain one's place on the MBSC top 10 list, a bass in excess of 30 pounds was required. People not on that list still managed to rake in lots of fish in the 18-to-26 pound category. This craziness lasted until the first week of July.
Backing up to May, the blackfish and bluefish fishing started off slow, but built up to some fine catches as the weather warmed. A few very nice size Taugs were weighed in at MBSC and R& G Bait and Tackle. Small blues were being caught on tubes and spoons while the occasional blitz netted choppers of 17 pounds or better on whole or chunk bunker. The blues remained around until just after election day. More on this later, but first comes Fluuuuuuke! that's right...fluke! Western Long Island Sound had the best fluke season in recent memory, starting last May 1. Everyone I know was so busy catching bass that the fluke snuck in almost unnoticed until Ed Liss and Rich Tenreiro, both of the MBSA, weighed in flatties of 9 and 10.6 pounds, respectively. The fish were so prevalent that the eight fish limit was easily attained and sizes ranged from 2-to-8 pounds with larger commonplace.
Meanwhile, back at the town dock kids had a banner snapper catching year with over 500 being caught and released at the Annual Snapper Derby sponsored by the MBSC. The older gang that frequented the dock, especially at night and early morning, found excellent results from all the aforementioned groups with teen size bass and blues commonplace. Back out on the boats as the summer progressed, the bass dwindled down to a precious few, while blues and fluke continued well into the fall. This lucky reporter took top honors at the First Annual Bluefish Tourney sponsored by Louie's Shore Restaurant and R&G Bait and Tackle.
The fall has a way of sneaking up and it wasn't long before the shorter days became obvious. As the seasonal changes progressed...some exciting angling was about to take place. The outstanding fluke run gave way to large numbers of blackfish in 20-to-60 feet of water on structure around our points and neighboring islands. Kevin Davies and Fred Hornung hooked 50 keepers one day, keeping only the limit, off execution light. The excellent Taug fishing continued interspersed with tackle breaking bluefish blitzer and schoolie bass frenzies inside the harbor. I can personally attest to this action lasting into late November. November into December saw the fall run of larger bass outside on the reefs and structural humps. Guys from the sportsmen's club and the tackle shop brought in some nice 20 pound category bass, using plugs, jigs and live and cut-up herring.
Now that the year is drawing to a close, Rich Tenreiro and I would like to wish you, one and all, happy holidays and a healthy and happy New Year! We are looking forward, hopefully, to next season being as much fun and as productive as the last.