Fluke, Triggerfish, Blues, Rays

Harry Norum
Harry Norum reeled up this nine-pound doormat fluke aboard the Lazy Bones party boat last week. Jack Yee

    Thanks, in part, to King James II of England (1633-1701), New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has directed the State Department of Environmental Conservation to issue refunds to sportfishermen and charter boat captains who purchased Recreational Marine Fishing Licenses for the 2011 season. Lifetime licenses will also be refunded, it was announced on Friday.
    Two years ago, the federal government created a system to register sportfishermen operating in marine waters in an effort to gain better catch data. The state sought to comply by adopting a license and a license fee, and many anglers and boat owners purchased licenses before the license law was repealed in March.
    East End towns had objected to the license fee based on their residents’ right to fish “without lett or hindrance” given in colonial writs authorized by the king of England. The State Supreme Court upheld the towns’ claims.
    When the license fee was struck from the budget, the state adopted a no-fee registration. Any New Yorker who purchased a license for the 2011 season will be issued a refund.    
    No license was necessary when Atilla Ozturk floated an eel bait out while skishing with Paul Melnyk over the weekend. He hooked a huge doormat fluke. Skishing is an extreme type of surfcasting wherein the caster dons a wetsuit for warmth and buoyancy, swim fins for propulsion, a water-friendly rod and reel, then swims offshore to get closer to the fish.
    Melnyk, a skishing pioneer, will be filmed doing his thing tomorrow in Montauk with his fellow skisher Ozturk. Last year, he was filmed for the British Broadcasting Company’s popular show “Extreme Fishing With Robson Green.” And now Melnyk has a book out, “Montauk Confidential: A Fisherman’s Memoir.”
    Melnyk reported casters catching big porgies from Montauk beaches along with triggerfish, a tropical species that often hitches a ride here courtesy of the Gulf Stream. Small striped bass mixed in with bluefish are taking cast lures on the bay side around Napeague Harbor, he said.
    On Monday morning, following Sunday’s rain and strong southerly wind, the ocean beach was covered with yellow Sargasso weed. It, too, is carried here by the Gulf Stream from the Sargasso Sea in the mid-Atlantic. The Gulf Stream is its western border.
    Another kind of summer visitor can make your heart stop if you happen to be swimming or surfing when the tips of their giant wings surface, looking like a brace of cruising sharks. Manta rays have been spotted close to shore off the ocean side of Napeague in recent days. They are also known to frequent Fort Pond Bay in Montauk. They are filter feeders, have no barb on their tail, and are basically harmless except to one’s nerves.
    Winners of the Star Island Yacht Club’s annual mako shark tournament, held last Thursday through Saturday, were Capt. Bob Rochetta’s Rainbow boat on which the angler Ron Hughes hauled in a 174-pound mako to capture first place. Paul Stern’s Tuna Tangler found a 123-pounder courtesy of the angler Jason Walter, and Chris Gramlicik on the North Star angled a 116-pound mako for third place in the mako category.
    John Delva was fishing on Capt. Charlie Mazen’s Alyssa Ann and caught a 247-pound thresher shark to win in that division.
    Ken Rafferty, a light-tackle and fly-fishing guide out of Three Mile Harbor, said the dramatic lightning and wind storm that passed through on Aug. 1 caused him to change horses in mid-stream. He was on his way to Little Gull Island, where stripers of various sizes had been grouping, “but as we passed Gardiner’s Island the water turned coffee brown and there were no fish. So, I went to outer Shagwong, where the water was crystal clear and there were bluefish, big blues.”
    Rafferty’s party was fly fishing and presenting the bluefish with a variety of flies. “You can throw just about anything as long as you bring it back fast. If slow, they’re not interested. Colors don’t matter, although if the water’s murky, I might put on a chartreuse fly.”