Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheelhouse
Friday and Saturday was a weekend warriors delight with light northerly winds, seasonable temperatures and fish chewing. Sunday was a different story. Well, two out of three ain't bad. Blackfish seem to be coming into their own at this time. Water temperatures, depending upon your location, varied from the low forties on the low tides, to the fifties on the flood tides. Obviously this time of year, incoming higher tides bring with it a rise in surface temperatures.
The bay still has some scattered life in it. Depending upon where you look dictates your success. I had some decent albeit scattered bass catches last week from the Coast Guard station up towards the point. The deeper holes off of Louie's Pier and west seemed to hold some quality bass.
Trolling the many ledges in the area produced stripers in the mid- twenty pound range earlier in the week. However, as the temperatures dipped into the low forties, they became more scarce. Pods of bunker were also present much to my surprise as they cruised along the bay. I read them on my sonar and even snagged a few on our trolling rigs.
The ocean had some life but not the spectacle of last week. The migratory fish seemed to have moved offshore and south along Ambrose Channel. Bass and blues were gorging themselves for the most part on sand eels and ranged in size from mostly schoolies, but some keepers mixed in.
Traveling southeast en route to the blackfish, grounds birds were up and working schools of bass, here and there the sky fused with gannets and terns.
Rather than making the run offshore, I fished the shallower depths for blackfish. The Rockaway Reef yielded some fish in forty to forty-five feet of water. However, after making a tactical move into sixty-five feet or more, the action and size of the fish improved.
After comparing notes with friends, and fellow charter boats, the offshore fishing was much better. Seventeen fathoms with depths to one hundred feet or better produced, as did the rock piles from Sea Bright down to Long Branch.
Those fishing offshore also saw some bluefin tuna crashing the surface. The fish, some up to two hundred pounds, have been showing up each fall. Occasionally some are hooked by anglers but for the most part they are an exercise in futility. Still they are a majestic fish and seeing them slide by is exciting. These fishing grounds offer a smorgasbord of food for the bluefin; bunker, herring, bluefish, and whatever else crosses their path.
Just a reminder: the striper season ends December 15.