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On the Water: Spring Has Sprung

Thu, 05/09/2024 - 10:07
Ken Morse, the proprietor of Tight Lines Tackle in Southampton, will continue to retain a presence at the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard and Ships Store in Sag Harbor.
Jon M. Diat

The striped bass showed up en masse for their annual residency off Montauk on May 1, and many rejoiced. It was a true sign that spring had sprung for those who wet a line for the highly prized linesiders. It also marked, for many, the start of the 2024 fishing season.

Capt. Savio Mizzi of the charter boat Fishooker out of Montauk, who specializes in light-tackle angling, took advantage of the action that day when the bass showed up thick and heavy.

While deft with a rod and reel, Mizzi is also a master painter and illustrator who was born and raised on Gozo, an island in the Mediterranean Sea, one of 21 that make up the Maltese archipelago just south of Sicily. There, fishing was a communal way of life and culture, mostly by hand lines, no less. You can check out his artwork at

Mizzi has a deep passion for pursuing stripers with a simple bucktail jig bounced off the bottom. He caught and released 15 stripers up to 35 inches long in a short matter of time not far from the Montauk Lighthouse on May 1. It was a great start to the fishing season for him.

“The bass are here!” echoed Capt. Hugh Chancey of Chancey Charters, who sets sail from Montauk. “The fishing has been great of late.” True that.

As a friendly reminder, anglers can retain one bass per day between 28 and 31 inches. Get your measuring sticks out to be in full compliance.

Other species have also shown up in recent days, much to the delight of many anglers. What to catch? There are several choices now at hand.

The Viking Starlight, which hails from Montauk, has called the old whaling port of Sag Harbor a temporary home until May 14, to be closer to the spring porgy grounds to the west at Jessup’s Neck, adjoining Noyac and Little Peconic Bay. Fishing for the silver-sided fish has been a bit hit and miss when the season opened last week. The Starlight sets sail from Long Wharf at 6 a.m.

On Saturday morning, I took my Rock Water, with a few friends in tow, to the aforementioned porgy grounds. The Viking Starlight was not far off to my port side when I anchored up.

Let’s just say that the bite was a very delicate pick. Still, at the end of the morning we caught enough for the four of us to enjoy. It’s still very early for porgies and the action should only continue to heat up over the next few weeks before the fish push farther off to the east to Gardiner’s Island and beyond.

Squid, bluefish, and weakfish have also begun to show up on the scene. Black sea bass have been caught in recent days, too, but they cannot be retained until June 23. Weakfish, which are also mixing in with the porgy catch, can now be kept as well, but anglers can retain only one fish over 16 inches per day. Take note.

Fluke aficionados are also smiling. The season opened on Saturday. Out at Montauk, Capt. Mark Ryckman of the party boat Montauk Star took his fares out for a nice, early-season catch. He also made a few drifts for striped bass off the Lighthouse and saw great action on diamond jigs and bucktails.

Elsewhere, over at Tight Lines Tackle at 260 Hampton Road in Southampton, Ken Morse gushed about the improved fishing for striped bass, as well as the fishing for porgies in the western bays.

“Depending on the day, porgies have been pretty cooperative on the west side of Jessup’s Neck,” he said. “I’ve heard of weakfish being caught and that a few very large bluefish were also taken hard off the bottom at Jessup’s. Plus, striped bass continue to enter the bays and on the ocean beaches. Things are starting to wake up.”

Morse added that the annual spring worm hatch has sprung in the bays and coves. “The bass are now a bit finicky, so be patient,” he said. “You can mark a bunch of stripers on your fish finder, but don’t be surprised if they don’t take your lure. They are focused on worms right now.”

While Morse relocated to Southampton last fall, his presence in Sag Harbor remains. The proprietor worked out a deal with the marine store at the Sag Harbor Yacht Yard at 53 Bay Street to create a “satellite” store next door to his former storefront of many years. There he will offer an assortment of basic tackle, bait, and gear for anglers. For many, it’s a most welcome relief and convenience. I could not agree more.

“I’m really glad I will still have a presence in Sag Harbor,” Morse said. “I’ve been working in Sag for nearly 30 years. I’m fortunate that I’m able to continue there and serve so many who have supported me.”

While Morse will man the post most of the time at his Southampton store, he will be at the Sag Harbor location every Wednesday.

Welcome back, Ken.


Fishing tips, observations, and photographs can be sent to [email protected].


Gregory Pace landed this hefty 24-pound tilefish on a recent offshore trip aboard the Miss Montauk II. Miss Montauk II Photo

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