What a great time of year to be fishing. As you probably figured out by now, I’m obsessed with striped bass. It’s not that I don’t like fluke, seabass, blackfish, or anything else that swims locally. Those bass though, when they’re on the feed and migrating it’s something special. In November, you can catch them 24 hours a day, or at least try to and have pretty good odds.
Once the remnants of Ian moved past the island last month, fishing exploded. Epic. Best in a decade. Just has never been this good. I heard all of that in the marinas, tackle shops, and while being blinded by the headlamps of surfcasters on the open beach after dark. Bunker pods from the size of a hot tub to the size of a football field have been close enough to work from shore and plentiful enough to pod hop for miles by boat. What’s mind blowing is that it’s going on along the whole stretch of the south shore from Montauk as well as the Northern Jersey coast. There’s nothing quite like the take while live lining a bunker, except when you can really trick a 30–40-pound class cow with a flutter spoon or a big topwater plug. Seeing a fish that big explode on a spook or popper is an instant memory.
There have been plenty of sand eels offshore through the season so far that have fueled the jig tuna bite. Yellowfins have made an exceptionally strong showing this year in the Combria area along with following along the dragger fleets. With colder temps creeping in earlier this year the inshore sand eels as the nip in the air grows should take bass fishing to the next level. Diamond jigs have been producing in Montauk as they did in the spring. Look for that jig bite to keep moving west and improve.
Goes without saying that no fish is worth taking short cuts on safety and comfort level. If it’s one of your first fall runs, or too many to count, the weather this time of year can turn real nasty real quick. I absolutely love casting bucktails on the outside of the bars in November and catching just about slot size fish on almost every cast. I also emphatically trust my buddy and how he handles his boat. As intense as the fishing gets, stay aware of things that aren’t just on the end of your line.
I keep hearing worse and worse grumblings about Jones Inlet. Really is nonsense that it’s not fall run ready to accommodate boat traffic and fishing. Hopefully by the spring it won’t be the treacherous stretch of water it’s become.
Blackfish is in full swing. A lot of the usual spots have been fished out, replenished, fished out again, and replenished again. Colder water temps though are bringing in a bunch more fish and typically larger ones. In the Sound from Manhasset Bay all the way to The Race infinite opportunities awaits. Jigs tipped with Asian or green crabs dominate the fish to the west, and an ungodly amount of lead on a traditional rig raises some monsters.
November is also ghost hunting time for tuna. They may have to lose their ghost moniker with the amount of bunker and the whales, porpoises and giant bluefin and yellowfin that are so close to shore. Just last month while fishing off the beach in Bridgehampton my buddy and I saw some big splashes maybe a half mile out. Starting to become accustomed to seeing whales and porpoises, it kind of looked like a humpback lunge feeding. I’m glad I let curiosity get the better of me to grab the binoculars from the truck. Giant bluefin exploding out of the water on a bunker pod. One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.
Enjoy the homestretch, there’s more opportunity than ever to get into some epic catches. Make some memories!!