Thursday, September 07, 2006
Star-Ledger Staff
The cost of running a boat out of Montauk drops considerably after Labor Day, and quite a few New Jersey anglers take advantage of that opportunity to run their boats our to the eastern tip of Long Island at a prime time for late summer striped bass and fluke fishing. Gene Graman of Middletown did just that Labor Day with his 27-foot Olson, That's It, from Twin Lights Marina in Highlands.

Graman was joined on that eight-hour run by Bill Strehl of Port Monmouth piloted Barry Heffernan's Finangler. Both boats are moored at Snug Harbor in Montauk, and have had two days of good bass fishing.

Jerry McMenamy of Holmdel and I drove out to join Graman and Joe Greco, who lived in Edison before retiring to Fort Myers, Florida. Though it's been years since I ran a boat out of Montauk, it wasn't hard to get reoriented Tuesday even though the fishing has changed greatly since I kept a boat there for 17 years.

When I moved my boat back to New Jersey there was no thought of baiting stripers with live porgies, and we rarely even bothered to seek stripers during the summer. Now that's the standard method of fishing stripers during the day in the many rips off Montauk Point.

Catching bait is the first order of business in this fishery, and it's so much fun that our crew was reluctant to leave once the jumbos were located. It's hard to believe that stripers will gobble 1 1/2-to-2-pound porgies in a flash, and there doesn't seem to be any limit on how big the scup can be in order to draw a bite.

We ran just a few miles north to Cerebus Shoal, and were quickly into porgies on the drift. The party Boat Viking Star was also drifting for porgies there along with several charter boats. After putting about 25 in the live well, Graman ran past the Point to Great Eastern and started making drifts through the rip.

There were lots of hits, though many of them came from bluefish that chopped the porgies behind the head. Some stripers did get through, and we ended up catching eight. Greco decided to try an eel at one point, and immediately hooked up with the largest bass of his life. Graman thought it would make 40 pounds, but the official weight at Gone Fishing Marina was 39.15 pounds.

Though I felt we hadn't done that well, a veteran charter skipper said we did well since the summer striper fishery the last two years hasn't been what they'd gotten used to the few years before then.

We must have learned something, because yesterday's score was up to 16 releases on That's It. Greco once again had the largest at 29 pounds on the Boga Grip, while the others were in the 20-to-24-pound class. Heffernan, of Leonardo, said his crew was doing even better nearby on Finangler, a 28-foot True World, with Strehl and his son Dustin plus Harold Smith of Matawan.

As good as the daytime bass fishing is, even larger stripers are being caught at night under the almost full moon. Yesterday's weather was beautiful after a rainy night and a forecast the day before of rain all day. Instead, we ended up with a sunny sky and calm seas.

Big fluke are another attraction, and that's what "Tiny" and Kathy Miles from Spring Lake are concentrating on with their boat. The only problem in that fishery along the south shore is an abundance of bluefish that are hitting the fluke rigs as well as everything else.

Capt. Danny Seich will not be running the Angler from Atlantic Highlands on night trips for stripers through Sept. 14.