2008-09-26 / Columnists

Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheel House

By Captain Vinnie Calabro

The winds of autumn are upon us, at least for these past few days. Annoying yes, but it goes with this time of year. Hopefully a few easterly blows will stir things up a bit and get the fish moving. Like the barometer, the fishing this past week had its highs and lows.

Unfortunately the fishing I enjoy was on the low end. Striper fishing inside our bay was, well, like fishing in a ghost town. Last year around this time, give or take a few days, the bay had some life. Bass and Bluefish made their presence known throughout the bay from Inwood up to Ruffle Bar, with some consistency I might add, but as of this writing, that is not the case.

Albeit the water dropped a few degrees and the fish are just not showing as one would expect. That could change in a matter of one tide but it doesn't look to promising. Probably the biggest reason is the lack of any appreciable amount of bait fish in the bay. Ordinarily, this time of year peanut bunker, a term used to describe small adolescent bunker are every where one can look. The harsh reality is that bait fish stocks are down. Mullet, menhaden, sand eels and all seem to be absent from our local waters at this time. The fact is it's been an ongoing problem for a few years now. Over harvesting and environmental impact all play a part in this problem. Will it get better? One can only hope. Weakfish a week ago seemed strong but they dwindled in numbers this past weekend. I was among the fleet for several days and didn't see too much in the way of catches.

On Sunday morning, I moved about the entire bay from Silver Hole and west to the usual weakfish haunts; Beach Channel High School, the holes down toward Canarsie, Runway channel and didn't see a fish landed. Correction: a keeper landed, our fish averaged six to ten inches if that well below the keeper size. Offerings of sand worms and peanut bunker remained unscathed. Moving right along the bright notes continued to be the sea bass and porgies. That's a good thing, the bottom among the "tin can grounds" and Rockaway reef seemed most productive. Where are the albies? Small albaco or poor man's tuna I call them, didn't cross my path this week. They usually cruise the jetty and shoal areas, right about now, but I wasn't lucky enough to see any. I will add that the fly rodders were up and about in the inlet so that is usually the signal that their around. I fished down Ambrose Channel on Thursday and bass and blues were to be had. Diamond jigs seemed to work best and the tide was running fairly hard and the fish were on the move.

I ended up down by the Highlands off of New Jersey just as the wind came on. Being in my skiff, we decided to retreat back to the bay and play it safe. On the way home, on the sandbars east of the jetty, showed some fish were making up. And a few short bass and blues were caught and released, no bonanza by any means. The local surf action from Atlantic beach to Rockaway was slow. And what would a fall surf report be without mention of you guessed it Cheach, who is fresh back from his Montauk soiree and filled with enthusiasm from hitting the local beaches. Not much life was his lament, but never count the Cheach out. Hopefully we'll get on em this week, until the next tide....

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