On the Water - Blues: Crabs, Sharks, Fish

Jay Libath, left, and Eric Flaherty showed off some of the mahimahi they caught spearfishing near Atlantis Canyon on Monday. Phil Cangiolosi

    By all accounts the blue-claw crab population is bursting at Georgica Pond’s scenic seams. According to one crabber, chicken-neck bait is hardly necessary. A slow walk in the shallows with an occasional stop will bring blue crabs to your feet. Best not to linger too long. Or, have a scoop net handy.
    The annual fishing tournament held from Uihlein’s Marina in Montauk to benefit the East Hampton Kiwanis Club and the Montauk Friends of Erin was hard fought this year. In the end, Richard Rade Jr. took first place. He had the highest cumulative weight after catching fish from the contest’s four target species — a 28-pound striped bass, a 11.5-pound bluefish, a 6.95-pound fluke, and a 5.5-pound sea bass. For his efforts, Rade took home a brand-new 225-horsepower Mercury outboard motor.
    Charlie Etzel took second place with the help of a 10.35-pound fluke. Despite his 45.4-pound striper, Hugh Chancey came in third.
    There was a notable clinch catch during the tournament. Francine Mastrangelo, 11, caught the monster 5.5-pound sea bass to help put Rade’s Marie E boat over the top.
    Last week’s unofficial surfcasting award goes to Chris Valenti, who hooked what he thought was a blue shark from the beach in Amagansett on Aug. 16. Turned out it was a six-foot-long, 90-pound brown shark, also known as a sandbar shark. They bite. He was helped landing the beast by his father, Charlie Valenti.
    Speaking of sharks, anglers aboard Capt. Ray Ruddock’s Abracadabra boat out of the West Lake Marina did battle with six blue sharks about 18 miles south of Montauk. A 250-pounder “pulled on everybody,” Ruddock said. Also spotted here and there were schools of small mahimahi.
    And, speaking of offshore fishing and mahimahi, Jason Libath, Phil Cangiolosi, and Eric Flaherty took off in the morning dark on Monday for a 100-mile run to Atlantis Canyon in search of tuna. They trolled and trolled to no avail, then decided to slip over the side into a giant school of mahimahi with masks, snorkels, fins, and spearguns. A few dozen were caught. Suddenly, Flaherty said, “they all disappeared.” Time to get back in the boat.
    Closer to shore, Gardiner’s Bay continues to be chockablock with porgies, many of them big enough to fillet, dust with cornmeal or flour, and fry in olive oil and garlic.
    Ken Rafferty, a light-tackle and fly guide who usually plies the waters north of Gardiner’s Bay, has been going east to outer Shagwong Point, Montauk, where he continues to find very large bluefish up to 15 pounds. “We’re getting them on surface poppers,” he said, adding that the fish seemed to be chasing tinker mackerel. No sign yet of Spanish mackerel, false albacore, or bonito, he said. His fishing logs go back a decade or two. “The earliest I’ve seen falsies is Aug. 16.”
    West Lake Marina reported a day of excellent fluke fishing on Aug. 17, with four fluke weighing in at over nine pounds. All were caught south of Montauk in about 60 feet of water.
    On Saturday, the Flying Dutchman boat left West Lake at midnight. It returned on Saturday with a 135-pound bigeye tuna and a swordfish that dressed out at 103 pounds. The Dutchman also had a number of albacore tuna up to 60 pounds.
    Harvey Bennett of the Tackle Shop in Amagansett said surfcasters using clam baits continued to catch striped bass at Georgica, Main Beach, and along Napeague beaches.