Season Opener 2016: Never Better September

Let there be no debate. The fall run is on!

Sept. 29, 2016: Fish slamming our lures just beyond the breakers curling over the inner sandbar. Casting barefoot in shorts along a sandy beach on a sunny Indian Summer morning.  Keeper striped bass and cocktail bluefish in the cooler. A scenic ocean drive turns into a poetic dance of fishermen versus fish and culminates in a tasty seafood dinner.  September has never been better. Fall surfcasting season has arrived on Long Island’s East End.

THE FAITHFUL: Amazing Randy, Verizon Charlie, Bucktailin' Billy Black at Ditch Plains

THE FAITHFUL: Amazing Randy, Verizon Charlie, Bucktailin’ Billy Black at Ditch Plains

The Faithful—and shortly we’ll get to who they are—have been fishing the beach for some time; Essentially, since the official mid-April opening of striper season.  First weekend in May, for example, Verizon Charlie, Bucktailin’ Billy Black and Amazing Randy (there; now you know who are The Faithful), caught one micro-bass after another on a pleasent spring Sunday at the Ditch Plains jetty in Montauk.

As is my custom under the terms of my spousal contract (more on that another time), however, I sat out an entire summer of action

LORETTA LEXUS: Queen of Surfcasters

LORETTA LEXUS: Queen of Surfcasters

until my own personal opening curtain: Labor Day. I idled away the summer days, instead, with an invention born of my recently acquired smoker box.  The Faithful caught the bluefish, which none of them keep under ordinary circumstances. I retrieved them without dangling a line in the water—perfectly legal according to my contract with the BW. In exchange, The Faithful got a generous portion of their catch returned in the form of smoked bluefish. I called it transactional fishing. Everyone was happy.

NAPEAGUE BASS: Reeling for stripers

NAPEAGUE BASS: Reeling for Stripers

NAPEAGUE BASS: Reeling for Stripers. Click here for video

A season start like this one–one of the best Septembers for Long Island surfcasting that I can remember–will spoil you.  Tends to make you forget the barren, bone-chilling Autumns of the past, when the mere hint of a fish would have been welcome. There have been far too many Septembers when you couldn’t be sure if the fall run hadn’t begun, if you missed it, or if it just wasn’t going to happen at all. I’ve lived through all three.

BILLY ON A BASS: Napeague Madness. Click here for video.

BILLY ON A BASS: Napeague Madness. Click here for video.

Not this month. Let there be no debate (oops, too late on that idea); The fall run is on! There have been big blues on the North Bar and other Block Island Sound-facing beaches near the Montauk Lighthouse.  A few early striper blitzes on the rocky shoreline south of the lighthouse, And a persistent run or schoolie bass and cocktail blues along the sandy ocean beaches from Montauk to East Hampton. And now, reports of cow bass being taken on the beaches of Napeague and from the jetty under Montauk light.

CAN"T MISS DAN: Putting it to blues and bass Tarzan on the beach style

CAN”T MISS DAN: Putting it to blues and bass Tarzan on the beach style

The sandy beaches of Amagansett and Napeague State Park mid-month is where we join this episode. First up, Can’t Miss Dan got them bathing suit-cum-Tarzan style right in front of our house in Amagansett:  A throwback 24-inch striper along with a couple of tasty cocktail blues that he turned into bluefish hash to accompany our morning eggs.  The next day, we scored more cocktail blues and a keeper 32-inch striper near Hither Hills.

With the weekend gone, came the rains.  Once the Monday morning soaker passed through, Napeague State Park lit up with fish for Loretta Lexus, Queen of Surfcasters, who had them all to her lonesome. Big Brother Frank and I made sure Loretta had company the next morning.  We loaded up on cocktail blues–Feed the Smoker!–and our share of schoolie bass with a few keepers for the table.  We went back to the scene of the crime in the afternoon. Different tide, same great action.

PAN ROASTED STRIPER: on a bed of mixed mushrooms and greens

PAN ROASTED STRIPER: on a bed of mixed mushrooms and greens

At dark, BBF and his wife, St. Toni of the Blitz, sat down with me to a dinner of pan-roasted striper with mixed mushrooms over a bed of greens.

Another balmy weekend brought Big Bob Wilsusen off his boat and back into the surf where he scored a keeper like he’d never been away.  Dan and I chipped away at short bass and blues while The Faithful all showed up and everyone got well.

By Sunday afternoon we were putting on a show for beach walking tourists.  If it was a prize fight, they would have stopped it.

On and on it continued. Through a SW blow one night and a nor’easter

the next day.  Billy and I fished morning, afternoon and well past dusk.  As long as the fish kept hitting, we kept casting. And catching. Word eventually got out and by midweek, the sandy beaches of Napeague were crawling with rod-racked 4-wheelers in search of stripers.  And in the wake of these early storms, came reports of bigger fish from 30 to 50 pounds.

So, what could be better?  More, that’s what.  October looms and if last year is the gauge, that’s when we’ll see the bulk of the fall-run bass move through our waters.  October starts out with a bonus this year: the Jewish High Holy Days, known to produce the proverbial Rosh Hoshanah Blitz. A very sacred time for surf fishermen. I’m off to pray now.

KEEPER BASS: 32-inches of excellent sport and dining

KEEPER BASS: 32-inches of excellent sport and dining

COCKTAIL BLUES: Tasty fodder for the smoker box

PAPA BASS AND THE COCKTAIL BLUES: Tasty fodder for the smoker box

Big Brother Frank

Big Brother Frank

Can't Miss Dan

Can’t Miss Dan



BAROQUE BASS: Big Bob and the foreshortened striper

Big Bob W.


Amazing Randy


Verizon Charlie


Bucktailin’ Billy Black


Loretta’s Lexus Bass

7 Responses to “Season Opener 2016: Never Better September”

  1. Vinnie D says:

    You Really know how to hurt a guy who can’t make it to Long Island this year.

  2. Taxman says:

    Here’s hoping the season does not stall. Thanks for the report.

  3. Chaweensta says:

    Best Fishtale ever!

  4. Judy Anticouni says:

    From Santa Barbara, we’ve got the weather, but boy, you sure do have the fishing. No Stripers out here on the West Coast. My tongue is hanging out!

    Thanks so much for such an entertaining glimpse of the best fall fun on that side of the country. Keep ’em coming Fred, both the fish and the newsletters!

  5. sam says:

    I am VERY impressed! I thought the haddock in Maine were good but you guys have that beat.
    Do have a good recipe for a smoked fish spread if you should need one.

  6. Mark Lomas says:

    Nice WP blog! Looks great! And, looks like the fish are biting and then some.! Big Brother Frank looks like he’s reeling in the good years too!

  7. Eva Bertolotti says:

    You are the best!

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.