On the Water: Fish Tales and Promising News

Nick Hemby of Water Mill stood behind his winning striped bass with fellow anglers, Jack Healey, left, and Scott Healey, during the weigh-in of the Ducks Unlimited striped bass tournament held from the Star Island Yacht Club on Saturday. Nick Hemby Collection

    For those interested not only in catching fish, but how the masters have gone about it, the Montauk Chamber of Commerce is holding its ninth annual Old Timers Round Table at the Montauk Yacht Club this evening starting at 6.
    The event comes the day before the Harbor Dinner, also at the yacht club, which this year will honor Paul Forsberg and the Forsberg family. The Round Table will be hosted by Carl Darenberg of the Montauk Marine Basin.
    Fishermen sharing their fish stories will include Bernie Ray, Bill Urvalak, Charlie Harned, Hank Lackner, Joseph DiLiberto, and Steven Forsberg, veterans of the Viking Fleet of party boats. Also on hand will be James Behan, John Rade, Fred E. Bird, John Gosman, and Kenny Boise.
    The Yacht Club will be offering special drink prices for the event, not that anyone would be interested.
    Meanwhile just about every fish we have come to expect this time of year has arrived. Two local tournaments brought forth some nice striped bass and bluefish.
    Mike Miller comes to Montauk twice each year from Pennsylvania. This year he brought his son along and entered the striped bass and bluefish tournament held from Paulie’s Tackle shop. He won the event with the first fish he had ever caught while in Montauk, a 24.96-pound bass. He was awarded a brand-new Van Staal 250 reel, and $250 in cash.
    He also bested the rest in the bluefish division with a 13.82-pound chopper. There were no second or third-place finishers so the cash prizes were raffled. To make it a hat trick, Miller’s son drew the winning ticket and the $200 prize. The Millers will surely return.
    It was time for the striped bass to duck during the one-day Ducks Unlimited shootout held from the Star Island Yacht Club on Saturday. Nick Hemby of Water Mill caught the winning 38.9-pound striper aboard the Legal Limit out of North Sea. Eric Sachtlelsen reeled in the second-place fish, a 33.4-pound bass, and Frank Lenihan’s 30.3-pounder placed third.
    Speaking of Star Island, the yacht club’s annual shark tournament for makos, threshers, and blue sharks will be held on Friday, June 17, and June 18. The captains meeting is scheduled for next Thursday evening at the Star Island Yacht Club. This coming weekend will be the first that local charter boats will venture forth after sharks.
    Shark-wise, it’s nice to see that the annual head-to-tail train of huge, but toothless, basking sharks has been spotted off the south shore of the East End. As usual, the spottings have brought forth rumors of “Jaws.”
    On the bay side, Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett reported bluefish galore at Cedar Point, and “a few” weakfish being caught in Northwest Harbor. Sammy’s Beach on the west side of Three Mile Harbor has been a hot spot for bass up to 20 pounds after dark. White or silver swimming lures are doing the trick, according to Bennett.
    Porgies have moved into Gardiner’s Bay. The limit is 10 per day measuring at least 10.5 inches.
    With near perfect weather and calm seas over the weekend, the fluke fleet was out in force off the south-facing shore of Montauk. But it’s been tough. No doormats yet, according to Chris Miller at the West Lake Marina who added that until next week frustrated sea bass fishermen will have to return their catch to the sea.
    Miller did relay some promising news, however. Tuna, mostly small yellowfins, have arrived in the offshore canyons. Ron Catina caught six small ones over the weekend. There are rumors of a few bluefin as well. Just before Memorial Day weekend, the National Marine Fisheries Service announced that listing bluefin as an endangered species was not warranted, as some environmental groups contend.
    However, the agency said it will reconsider the issue after studying the effects of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, a major bluefin spawning area, as well as an upcoming stock assessment of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, or ICCAT. 
    Closer to shore, Ken Rafferty, a fishing guide who works out of Three Mile Harbor, said because of coolish water temps, he and his light-tackle and fly casters spent most of their time in the warmer Peconics where they found “plenty of blues and stripers early.”
    To put the lie to the belief that all locally caught striped bass migrate here from other waters, Rafferty reported one of his fly dudes accidentally snagging (not fatally) an eight-inch-long striper near the mouth of Three Mile Harbor.
    “They’re aggressive, going after a fly a third of their size. For years, I’ve been seeing five or six-inch bass in early spring, thousands of them. They’re here all year.”