by John Skinner
I'm a surfcaster, but I credit bass fishing the East End rips from boats decades ago with teaching me a lot about striped bass fishing that I was able to exploit for surfcasting, especially in areas with significant current. When legendary boat captains such as John DeMaio and Bob Storc wrote books – I bought them and squeezed out any information I could. A new book is now sitting on my desk from another Montauk Captain, Tom Mikoleski. If the name sounds familiar, it's probably because you've read some of the hundreds of articles he's had published in fishing magazines over the years. His new book, Bass Buff – A Striper Fishing Obsession Guide
, is a no-brainer must-have for any boat angler, but should also be added to the fishing libraries of surf and kayak anglers as well. Tom has many years of experience as a full-time Montauk charter captain. His book benefits from both his fine writing skills and the immense body of knowledge he has accumulated in his years of days and nights in the rips.
The weapons of choice of big bass hunters are all covered in great detail, including fishing with eels, bucktails, bunker, and the strategies used to consistently entice the largest stripers with these offerings in a variety of conditions. He also has the necessary nuts and bolts chapters that cover gear and rigging. The opening chapters of the book that take the reader along on the author's journey to becoming a charter captain are also a very nice read. You can learn more about the book at bassbuff.com
I'm writing this in the midst of the season's first heatwave, but the water temperatures are running cool enough that we shouldn't expect the heat to do significant damage to the bass bite just yet – that's if you're actually on a bass bite. If you're having a good season so far, pat yourself on the back for being smart or consider yourself lucky, because I think the surf season has been a tough one so far for most shorebound anglers. Rich Trox, as he does often, started a great thread on the Noreast Surf Forum addressing surf anglers' impressions of the season so far. You can read that here
Access restrictions have complicated matters, but I think the change in bottom structure caused by Sandy has had an equally adverse impact. There's also an issue with the water quality in Long Island Sound, at least where I live in Riverhead Town. The water has been just plain dingy all season. On Sunday my son and I were fluking in the boat about a mile and a half off the beach, and the water was clear. When we moved in about halfway to the beach, we could barely see our drift sock just a few feet under the surface. I'm hoping the strong "super moon" currents will finally flush things out, but there just seems to be a lot of silt and debris built up from the past years' storms.
Bait this year is spotty. I'm seeing just a few sandeels being spit up by the fluke we're catching, but there are none close to shore. I've heard reports of good sandeel concentrations in the western Sound. The ocean from Fire Island Inlet to Shinnecock is loaded with adult bunker, but finding pods with fish on them can be a chore. We should have a couple more weeks before warm water seriously diminishes striper action and pushes what remains to eastern waters. Enjoy it while you can, and just learn to adjust expectations if your catching isn't as good as in years past.