Cool Water Means Active Bass

October 23, 2018 – Northport –

October is the month for chasing fish on the surface, Bass and Albies along with some Blues, although they have been mysteriously absent except for the cocktail variety.  Last week the water temperature was still near 70 which the Albies seem to like but not the bass.  This morning it was 57 in the bays and 60 out in the Sound.  Here we go!

I have not been out due to big wind

…and other stuff to do, plus no birds or bait in sight. Did get a lot done around the house – lawn seeded, garage cleaned, summer furniture away, electric fixed and gutters cleaned.  The last two not by me, but I made the calls. Also picked up new inserts for the high hats over the garage which are rusting and bulb covers for the basement lights. Whew!

Time for the boat.

She has been rocking on the mooring and I keep wondering if I am pushing the season too far, especially because it has been a lean year for fish.  Sometimes we get a few nice days the end of October, beginning of November.  I am hoping. 

Today was an odd warm day among many cool, windy ones.

This weekend they are calling for a Nor’easter. I figured I better get out.  Besides, I have to start emptying the boat and need to clean and wax the plastic windows. Sue gave me some Pledge and I packed the denatured alcohol.

When I pulled the dinghy off the rack I was reminded that I need to do some work on it as well.  Need to stuff foam under seat before it totally breaks.  Then fiberglass it back together.  Labor of love but I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

What’s under the birds?

As I climb on board I see birds and bait in the corner of the pond

…as Dennis calls it, over by the gates. So far this season most of the disturbances like this have been cormorants diving for bait and seagulls cleaning up what they can.  This time it looks like fish may be under them. I go about my stowing and put some stuff in the dinghy so I will remember to take in more later. As I release the boat from the mooring lines it just sits in the calm clear water. 

I can see bottom and it is almost high tide.  I take out three spinning rods and rig them with 40 pound leaders, a Kastmaster, an epoxy minnow by Hogy and my favorite popper.  The two fly rods are on deck, a green and white Clouser on one and white bait (an anchovy) on the other. I am ready. 

I cast the Clouser in a few directions to see if any fish are nearby.  In this water I can see it jump with each strip and flutter down as I rest it.  Good action. Need to let it rest more.

As I move toward Winkle Point the birds are working to what looks like speedy fish.

Albies?  I grab the spinner with the Hogy and have a hit on the third cast. Good fight, could be an Albie, a small one…but it is a bass, a nice 21 inch fatso with a lot of fight. I leader him into the boat and switch to the fly rod with the Clouser.


Outside of the sailboats and inside the Point, the fish are rocketing around and the birds are following – north, east, west, south and back again.  I have a good hit and forget to get him on the reel.  I fight him like a 12 inch trout, awkward as it is, my brain not making the conversion from stream to striper. 

He is big,

…maybe 30 inches and passed the boat a few times before getting off.  The next one was on the reel and came boat side after a respectable duel.  I grabbed the leader and lifted as the knot gave. Damn. No more blood knots in 40 pound test for me. Went to a straight leader and loop knot with a Deceiver on this time.  One that looked yellow when dry but turned an alluring green in the water. Fish on!

I go to lift him into the boat and the leader holds.


I cast again and get a bite, then another, but no hook up. 

Strange.  I recast and the same thing happens. I check the fly. 

Is that the hook point?

No hook.

I tie on an epoxy bodied Surf Candy. It has its barb and I think about leaving it. Then I remember the trip to the urgent center to get the last fly with a barb I used out of my elbow.  I crushed it.

The next one slipped the barbless fly boat side.  Giving up the leader lift, which has not been helping, I dig out the net. A boat is approaching at full speed and I look up to see a fisher coming in to join me.  I sure wish he would slow down. He set up a 100 yards to the east and I had another fish on.

These fish are working me over.  Even when playing them on the reel they are giving me multiple runs and my arm and hand are feeling the work out. I grab the net but he runs again and I put it down wanting to wear him down as I sure would like to get a 30 incher into the boat.  He slips the fly as I bring him alongside.

The birds are south of me now.

My neighbor moves over there.  I can use a rest so I stay where I am.  There are marks on the sonar showing fish all around.  I cast and let it sit as the wind starts to pick up out of the south west. The result is a natural troll. I give it some action, strip and let out line alternately. I get a hit. A good one that really runs the reel.

My wrist is aching and I brace the butt against my belly to relieve some of the pressure. He runs under the bow and I pull him back. He dives in the 14 foot water and then comes up like he is going to jump, but doesn’t.  What he does do is create a little slack and he is off.

My neighbor senses that it is over and heads off.  The birds are all sitting on the water and the boils stop as the wind riffles the surface.  I give it some more time and then move over to Centerport Wall.

I grab the rod with the popper

…and get an immediate splash but no hook up.  That was it.  I worked the wall from end to end for the next 45 minutes and nothing.  I head outside while eating my PBJ.

The wind is now blowing at 10 to 15 and white caps are making it tough to see the action.  No birds are apparent.  I cruise out to Buoy 13 and drift.  Nothing going on.  The windows need waxing so I go about the business of washing them with alcohol and waxing them with Pledge, remembering to hold on as I move around the walk with the boat rocking.

Not sure how long it took

…but had to be another 45 minutes and nothing going on.  Taking a slow cruise toward the platform and then to the stacks;  there are some boats at Heather’s Wall and I go check it out.  Black fishing.  As I head around the lighthouse there are boats in the rocks, some moving around as if following bait schools but I can’t see any. I am not going into those rocks.  Not again. I lost one lower unit in there. 

Over to Target Rock, into Lloyd Harbor and back to Winkle Point.  What was is no more. They have moved out or in. 

I call it a day taking more stuff off the boat.  I wonder if Dennis got home from Florida yet.  Maybe we can get out tomorrow.  I look at the weather report – 17 to 20 mph winds and cold. 

Lucky to get this day in.