On the Water: Tinker Mackerel, Talk of Tuna

Tom Tackle, left, and Paul Snyder admired this hatchet marlin before returning it to the sea earlier this month. Below, big schools of tinker mackerel like this one were swarming in Fort Pond Bay, Montauk, this week. Harvey Bennett and Paul Snyder Photos

    It’s the time of year for bamboo poles, buckets, and spearing bait. Snapper bluefish are swarming around local docks in profusion.
    Anglers may dismiss them, but we owe a lot to bluefish. They are the species that, in these parts anyway, hook sportfishermen when they and their quarry are the age of Huck and Tom, even younger. It’s a good time to teach kids about conservation. Only 10 snappers can be taken if they measure less than 12 inches. 
    Those who grow apace with bluefish learn to respect them. Not everyone likes their taste, but few would dispute their fight, especially when they run away with lightweight line. There has been plenty of that kind of action this summer, and the battle can be short if the angler has failed to arm the terminal end of his gear with a bite-proof leader or tipit.
    Blues were being caught from the beach over the weekend on Napeague out toward Hither Hills.
    Not as toothy, but of equal challenge on light tackle, are fish from the greater tuna family and we are about due for the arrival of both green bonito and false albacore. There have been reports of greenies schooling in Fort Pond Bay in Montauk. This would make sense, according to Harvey Bennett at the Tackle Shop in Amagansett.
    Bennett said Fort Pond Bay was loaded with tinker mackerel. “I keep getting reports of green bonito there. It makes sense because tuna love mackerel. There are a lot of definite maybes. We don’t have tinkers the way we used to. When I was a kid we used to go down to the ocean. Charlie Whitmore and I caught them on the ocean beach with snapper jigs. Charlie casted out a tinker and a bass grabbed it. He gets it through the breakers on a snapper rod. It gets off the hook, and Charlie jumped on it.”
    Bennett said this was the first year that people were going down to the town dock at the end of Navy Road in Montauk to target tinker mackerel. Some were as large as eight inches long. He said he was selling a lot of Sabiki lures, the herring rig with multiple hooks strung in a row, and that the tinker mackerel were in Gardiner’s Bay as well, at Devon and Albert’s Landing.
    Fort Pond Bay is otherwise offering up porgies from the town dock on the west side, some just shy of dinner plate size.
     Again this year, Uihlein’s Marina will be ground zero for a two-day fishing tournament to benefit the East Hampton Kiwanis Club and the Montauk Friends of Erin. At stake for private boaters is a brand-new Mercury outboard engine. Charter and party boats fish in a separate division. As usual, four species — bluefish, striped bass, fluke, and sea bass — are the targets. There will be plenty of prizes for kids. The entry fee is $300 for all boats for the two days of fishing. Captains can sign up at Uihlein’s up until the captains meeting tomorrow at 6 p.m. 
    Paul Apostolides of Paulie’s Tackle in Montauk reported a slow pick of striped bass by surfcasters working the rocks east of Ditch Plain in Montauk at night with eels and nighttime lures like darters and needlefish.
    Chris Miller of West Lake Marina, also in Montauk, reported one boat making an overnight trip to Block Canyon where five yellowfin and four albacore tuna were caught. The trip included some adrenaline-fueled moments during a two-hour battle with a big-eye tuna in the 200-pound class. “They had it up to the surface twice then they saw a large great white come up,” Miller said. The tuna freaked and headed straight to the bottom.
    Tuna are known to “mud up,” that is, make a suicidal dive into the bottom.
    Miller said Gary McEntee also made a trip to the canyon over the weekend and caught four yellowfin using butterfish and sardine bait while chunking in daylight.
    Fluke fishing has been steady without the big-fluke excitement generated a few weeks ago. The spot known as Frisbees on the south side of Montauk did produce last week, however.