What absolutely gorgeous summer weather outside my window as I start this column, a great time to enjoy the last few weeks of summer, catching some fish for the table or just for the heck of it.
Our big fish this week was a 64-pound bass caught by Peter Wall on the south side of Fishers Island last Friday night.
Pete was in a boat and fooled his trophy with a live eel, fishing in shoal water, either drifting or casting the eel into the south-side rocks.
Just for grins, I mentally ticked off some of the bass over 60 pounds caught off the island's south side and came up with the following very incomplete list: George Thackeray, 63 pounds on a weighted live bunker; Joe Dawson, 65 pounds; old-timer Peter Kernicki, 64 pounds on an eel in Gatanby Cove; and a 68-pounder landed by a lady on a fishing trip with her boyfriend, that huge striper fooled with a trolled bunker spoon.
One of the better catches off the island's south shore in recent years was a 58.8-pounder caught on 8-pound line by accomplished angler Emme Golinski, fishing with her husband Al. Between them they have set 27 past and present records for the International Game Fish Association. This week Al was out trying to set a Men's 8-Pound line class record for bass, landing stripers as big as 42 pounds off the south side. He needs a 45-pounder and is working hard on that goal.
In other news, Roger at J&B Tackle said you should be able to catch plenty of blues in the Middle Race on the ebb tide. Keeper and doormat fluke are available, caught mainly on large baits in water deeper than 80 feet. Porgies to 17 inches bite well on most of the local rocky humps and the J&B charter boat had an excellent sea bass trip to the West Grounds off Block Island.
Captain Allen Fee of Shaffers was on his way to a Yankess game in New York when I caught up with him via cell. He reminds all that you have one more week of fluke fishing in state waters - the fishery closes down for the year Aug. 26. Fishers Island residents are buying eels, a sure sign of bass caught after dark from the beaches. Gary Veronick of Preston and Warren Firtione of Enfield had a great day at Cerberus Shoal, catching large sea bass, jumbo porgies, a couple keeper fluke and two large blues, all on bottom rigs.
Over at King Cove, Don reported lots of mullet in the local coves, some as big as six inches, a sure sign that Mother Nature is setting her table in time for the fall run of bass and blues. Sea bassing is good on the humps off Misquamicut and the porgy run about as good as it can be. Blues were in and out of the Watch Hill reefs plus made a couple raids into Stonington Harbor. Bunkers are available for striper bait in the Pawcatuck River using a gill net, best before or at first light.
Captain Howard Beers at Hillyers Tackle reported some very large porgies and lots of bluefish for area fishermen and women. Sea bassing is best over at Block Island. Crabbing remains good in the Niantic River but the size is dropping from two weeks ago. Best bass catches are taking place very early in the day or after dark with drifted live eels.
Red at Bob's Tackle said he's sold 21 five-pound bags of clams this week, all the bait heading out the door for the sea bass grounds, a sign of how good the fishing is. Some of it may have also been used for all the big porgies we have around. Biggest sea bass of late weighed 7.2 pounds, caught on the south side of Fishers Island.
Joe Balint at The Fish Connection said there are bluefish prowling the Thames between Trading Cove and the Harvard Boat House, chasing schools of peanut bunker around. A school of large bunkers was sighted twice this week between Poquetanuck Cove and Dow Chemical.
Casting in the Race Point rip and along the rocky shore up to Silver Eel Pond produced both school bass and blues this week. Captain Jack Balint took a charter over to Block Island where they encountered large ground swell, doing well with jumbo porgies but not many fluke.
We close with an upbeat report from Pat at River's End, who said this is the BEST crabbing year he has seen in at least a decade. One customer took two hours to catch two buckets of the critters from the pilings at his marina. Others are using traps or hand lines to catch a dozen or more at a time from the causeway and DEP docks. Snapper blues are also in both places, adding to the day for kids, both locations great spots for public access for those without a boat.
Tim Coleman is The Day's saltwater fishing columnist.