Atilla Ozturk now leads the Montauk Locals surfcasting tournament with a 33-and-a-half-pound striped bass he caught on Sunday, a day that also had him casting alongside tuxedoed members of a wedding party that had been interrupted by a blitz of big bass on the beach at Gurney's Inn, Montauk.
The bride reportedly was formerly on the staff of The Fisherman magazine, so it would follow that members of the wedding party might be distracted by the sight of bass in the 25 to 30-pound range being dragged onto the beach by surfcasters. Fred Galofaro and Tom Melton, both editors at The Fisherman, were said to be among the well-dressed casters.
For Mr. Ozturk, it had begun earlier at Gurney's, where he works. His shift was over and his replacement called to beg for some more time. He made the mistake of saying that he needed a little extra time as the bass were thick in front of the Surfside Inn. Mr. Ozturk's answer was "no."
Instead, he headed for the bass himself, arriving at the beach in front of Surfside to see a young girl beach a 30-pound fish. A few casts later he had his 33-and-a-half-pounder, which he placed on the roof of the veteran surfcaster Jack Yee's truck. There it stayed, flapping around occasionally, as Messrs. Ozturk and Yee traveled west with the school of fish until they reached the beach in front of Mr. Ozturk's workplace.
Before long the wedding party caught wind of the exceptional bass fishing and was distracted. As of yesterday, Fred Kalkstein's 30-and-three-quarter-pound striper and Paul Melnyk's 30 and-a-half-pounder lined up second and third behind Mr. Ozturk's wedding-day bass.
In other news, the Walker's Cay Chronicles crew was expected to arrive in local waters this week in hopes of capturing some of the East End's red-hot fall fishing on film. The Chronicles, which appears on cable networks, is considered the most popular sportfishing show in the country. Bob Popovics, creator of the popular silicon flies he calls "surf candy," is scheduled to join the show's host, Flip Pallot, in search of bonito and false albacore off Montauk.
Freddie's Bait and Tackle in Montauk reports "just super" surfcasting this week on both the north and south sides of Montauk, especially the south side. A mix of bass and bluefish were hitting the beach on Tuesday morning from Montauk to Indian Wells, Amagansett. Blues were in the six to eight-pound range. The bass were of similar size with some bigger ones in the mix.
On Sunday, evidence of the feeding schools could be seen along Montauk beaches in the form of four-inch silver, green, and blue anchovies scared out of the water and left high and dry.
On the bay side, Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop at Skimhampton reported piles of bass south of Barnes Landing whenever the wind blows from the east. He added that a friend fishing on the ocean side near White Sands (on Napeague) caught a 37-pound striped bass on the weekend.
Seining For Science
The continuing success of the Lazy Bones party boat seems typical of the great fishing that boating fishermen are experiencing around Montauk Point. The Bones reports working on bass and bluefish in the rips off the Point, with bass up to 33 pounds being taken on the diamond jig.
For the ninth year in a row, Victor Vecchio of the State Department of Environmental Conservation is collecting bass via ocean seine for an ongoing striped bass population study. The seining is being done by Jens Lester and his crew. The crew has made 10 sets since beginning this year's survey on Sept. 24 and has 44 more to go.
As usual, bass caught in the survey seine are measured, weighed, and tagged. Scale samples are taken to determine age and the fish are returned to sea. This season, the team is sampling weakfish as well. So far 70 weaks in the 24 to 28-inch range have been tagged and released.
Altenkirch's Precision Outfitters in Hampton Bays reports surfcasters using live bait - porgies and eels on the east bar outside the Shinnecock Inlet. Offshore of the Inlet, sea bass and porgies are being caught. Inside the inlet itself anglers can still find some flounder and some small blackfish.