October 13 – Tuesday
Paul was scheduled to host an angling journalist from Germany and we were going to take him out on the boat today, but those plans fell through so just the two of us went out. He has fished this area from the beach quite a bit but had not seen it from the water, so I gave him the tour.
We circled Northport Bay and I pointed out the areas that had held fish in the past but were empty this year. Then we checked the mouth of Huntington Bay and out to the Sound. It was unexpectantly empty of birds. We moved to the LILCO outflow and along the shore. We passed Crab Meadow, Makama, Callahan’s and Sunken Meadow. Finally, at the mouth of the Nissequogue, there were birds working over something.
Paul is the owner of River Bay Outfitters, a local fly shop in Oceanside, and he favors the fly rod although he’s not above using conventional tackle. I set the boat inside to let the south wind move us silently through the schools. We both agreed that running and gunning with the engine would be frustrating and counter productive.
I chose the spinning rod with a Penn Slammer and a Dirty Dick, hoping it was Albies that the birds were tracking. As the boat moved to the action, the birds would disperse and whatever was underneath would sound – head for the bottom. We didn’t see any bait in the water.
I got the first hit off the bow and brought in a good size Sea Robin. Paul asked if I let it sink in the 12 foot water as they generally bite on the bottom. I wasn’t sure.
We reset the drift, and then did it again, a little farther east with no Blues; just a few more Sea Robins hitting near the surface. They seemed to be coming up for it. Strange.
There was a particularly intense flock of birds pecking at something in the water. As we approached, it appeared that there were Sea Robins under the birds. Could they be feeding on the surface?
Another part of the puzzle was that we still didn’t see any bait in the water. A few Blues shot by showing their sides near the boat. Something was going on, but neither of us could figure out what.
We made another drift and Paul changed his fly which led to repeated hits and hook ups – Sea Robins – on a fly!
Frustrated by the inability to attract the game fish we sought, we headed west to see if the Blues were active elsewhere; about a 5 mile run and no birds or fish in sight. We called it a day.
Thinking about this more, I think what was happening is the Sea Robins were being chased by the Blues and they were biting off the body behind the head. The birds were picking at the remains in the surface.
Strange but probably true.
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