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May 21, 2019 10:09 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

The Season Is Upon Us

May 21, 2019 10:32 AM

Welcome to summer.If you are just rolling in for the season, here’s what you’ve missed: The traffic started getting bad about a month ago, and the fishing started getting good about then, too.

Since then, the traffic has only been getting worse, but the fishing has kind of plateaued, or maybe even regressed. But there is action to be had and fillets to put on your dinner plates this weekend if that’s your main priority.

If you are just hungry, then the easiest thing to do is run the Peconics and put some porgies on ice. The little panfish are stacked like cordwood in Little Peconic Bay, and putting 20 or 30 of them in a cooler in short order should be of little difficulty for even novice fisherfolk.

Of course, you have to get there. If you don’t have a boat, the Hampton Bays-based party boat Shinnecock Star is making the trek daily, and some of the Montauk party boats are even steaming all the way up into the bay. The Viking Starship, MiJoy and Fin Chaser all were there last weekend.

If bigger fillets are what you’re after, fluking is your best bet. The fishing has been decent in Shinnecock Bay, Shelter Island Sound and off Montauk. Again, there are party boats sailing from Hampton Bays and Montauk that make access to this fishery easy and affordable.

Here’s a quick list of the party boats working our area this summer. These are boats on which you simply buy a ticket for a half day or full day of fishing. Reservations are recommended but not always required—a simple call or online booking the night before usually will suffice:

Hampton Bays: The Hampton Lady 631-521-3366 and Shinnecock Star 631-728-4563.

Montauk: The Viking Fleet 631-668-5700; The Miss Montauk 631-668-1545; Fin Chaser 516-643-0940, Lazybones 631-668-5671; Ebb Tide 631-668-2818.

There also are dozens of charter boats that you can find online in Montauk and a smattering in Shinnecock.

Striped bass fishing has been a little slow to find its footing. After a decent shot of fish in late April and the first week of May, the fishing has cooled off considerably as the big schools of fish coming out of the Chesapeake and the Hudson don’t seem to have broken free of the massive schools of bunker in the New York Bight yet. Some decent fish have filtered east for boat and surf anglers to catch, but reports from all corners are that the fishing is still sputtering into gear.

If you weren’t dialed in over the winter, a new stock report was released that indicates striped bass stocks are substantially below the goals for management and are being caught in far too many numbers for the stock to replenish itself. New restrictions are coming next year.

The stock study also showed the enormous impact recreational angling has on striped bass mortality, especially that of fish that are caught and released by anglers, only to die later from their injuries.

So, this summer, if you are lucky enough to tussle with a striped bass from the surf or on your boat, please be exceedingly conscious of the harm you cause to the fish you catch but aren’t going to take home. Don’t fish lures with two sets of treble hooks on them (just remove one, or replace it with a single hook—you will catch no fewer fish), don’t stand on fish you are unhooking or jam your fingers between their red gills, and please only keep the fish you can eat.

Beyond that, best of luck in landing striped bass for dinner or for fun, or any other species of fish you come across.

Catch ’em up, and try to stay out of (not add to) the traffic. See you out there.

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