What goes “bump in the night” and can startle anyone unfamiliar with the surroundings? A cat, dog, person, or old wooden creaky captain’s chair can cause someone’s heart to skip a beat. But fishing in knee-to-chest deep and even deeper water is a different story. A leg bump around midnight invariably will conjure up a scenario that most of us would prefer to avoid in everyday life.
Skishing (skiing + fishing), initially introduced by Paul Melnyk, got its fame from fishing the highly productive striped bass waters of Montauk, New York. Getting past the breakers to the “sweet spot” is always the goal, and donning a buoyant wetsuit, a pair of flippers, and staying afloat in an inner tube (optional) is a clever way of fishing beyond casting distance. Add a 10- to 11-foot surf rod, headlamp, and a mesh bag full of live eels is a surefire way to set up for a night of striper fishing.
Now, just picture hooking up with a cow linesider and being dragged around like a soaked pair of jeans, and you have “skishing.” It takes a unique individual to be a dedicated skisher — maybe over the edge. Nevertheless, it accomplishes getting one to where the fish are and often too close to the hazards a vessel would encounter.
Montauk is not only known to be a premier striped bass destination, it also is known for its shark fishery. And we know when food, night, and seawater come together in waters conducive to a fishery, the fish feed and perform other fish-related activities. So here we are in the waters off Montauk, fully outfitted and with live eels, perhaps in a mesh bag hanging from a tube, and there is one of those bump-in-the-night deals that sets the imagination in motion.
The bump was enough to push one sideways and change direction. It was not the first one of the evening nor of the season, and, as in the past, the cause will never be known — only conjectured. Was it a shark, striper, or something else? There certainly was enough dragging around, kicking to remain upright, and enough linesiders hooked, fought, caught, and released that evening to warrant the effort. Fall is coming, and skishing is a testament to what lengths dedicated striped bass enthusiasts will go to for a trophy linesider. Nerves of steel goes without saying. It definitely is not for the faint of heart but if one were to give it a whirl, use extreme caution because a “skisherman” will be at the mercy of the elements.
On The Water
A northeast warm front brought rain, thunderstorms, windy conditions, and small craft warnings, followed by a cold front. Air temperatures dropped briefly before climbing back into the 80s. High pressure built before moving offshore, followed by another storm system. High pressure returned before being interrupted by another system impacting the weather once again. Air temperatures ranged from early morning 60s to late afternoon low 80s. Meanwhile, Long Island Sound water temperatures remained in the low to mid-70s, seas ranged from 2 to 4 feet to a foot, accompanied by gusty to variable winds.
Weather did play a role in August vacationers hitting the fishing grounds, but their yearly trek to the water hardly deterred them from wetting a line. Literally, water from the sky or the sea, the determined did catch fish from shore and a few from small vessels testing the shoreline. Sizes of striped bass varied, as did hookups when weather and temps moderated. Live eels, chunk baits, bucktails, jigs, and spoons (flutter) generated some good action on light to medium tackle, along with a few choice plugs. Reef action got the nod and especially nearshore structure that held a few over-the-slot fish in the 40” + range. Schools of Atlantic menhaden are still spread out throughout the Sound as well as other baitfish such as silversides.
Weakfish took a turn for the better this week as more 16” + weakies were caught — the dominant bait again was squid. Incoming tide from Kimberly Reef, west toward Faulkner’s, produced multiple catches. Gator bluefish are still tearing into bait schools and shredding tackle. We are seeing stacks of them at The Race, some of which are making inroads into the Sound, but most entering are smaller — at least for now. Topwater plugs have been cast into schools of blues where intermittent blitzes have been erupting, creating intense moments. Soaking chunk baits, casting/trolling, and fluttering spoons, including dropping diamond jigs, are serious options for getting choppers on a hook on a moving tide. It has been a good week for blues and a decent one for snappers.
Long Island Sound is still struggling to produce numbers of doormat fluke but catches of mini-doormats are improving. Short fish still dominate many catches in the pond, but outside, sizes tend to improve. Seven- to nine-pounders are considered good catches! Squid, fish fillets on rigs drifted slowly on the bottom around varied structure will generally produce schooled summer flounder. The bigger the bait, the better, including adding a teaser 18” above the main rig.
What are a relatively easy catch are porgies — some throwbacks, many keepers, several real slabs. Always a fun family fish to take from the sea to the fryer, these popular saltwater panfish can be found on most humps, reefs, and rock piles, easily caught around high tide with seaworms, squid, and scented bait strips usually baited on simple rigs fished near the bottom of the water column. Venture into deeper water for black sea bass using squid, rigs, or jigs, and you will be serving up some delicious fillets for dinner.
We have until Aug. 31 to fish for blackfish (tautog) until the fall season opens on Oct. 10, so take advantage of the tog bite that has been ongoing. Natural baits and a few choice scented artificials have been filling in for some of those fish near shore. The Sound’s shark visitors continue to be quite active, searching the bottom for a meal. Evening chunking and chumming have been producing a mixed bag of dogfish (many large) as well as sand tigers and browns. Day fishing trips will often produce skate, sea robins, northern kingfish, toadfish, etc. Pick your estuaries, saltwater marshes, and creeks carefully, and both hard- and soft-shell blue crabs will make the dinner table if the tidal flow is right.
A drop in air temperatures gave trout anglers a shot in the arm when early and late-day fishing improved for the spin and fly fishers. Fishing did vary with location based on water flows, levels, and overall conditions. Inline spinners, swimmers, as well as nymphs and dries, have been producing brookies, browns, rainbows, and a few tigers. Lakes and pond fishing continue to surge, especially with large and smallmouth bass, pickerel, and panfish. Natural and artificial baits had moments — live and jelly worms, including cranks and jigs.
Fly Fishing Clinic: Now accepting reservations for August. Outstanding Opportunity for the experienced or intermediate fly fisher! Booking inland and marine fly fishing lessons for 2023 with world fisher, certified master fly fishing casting instructor, and fishing lodge director, along with striped bass enthusiast and specialist. From trout, salmon, steelhead, and sea-run browns to striped bass, bonefish, permit, tarpon, etc., techniques learned and honed will improve your fishing.
Note: Email us pics of your catches to share with our USA and International fishing friends who keep up with the latest fishing news and frequent social media. Or, contact Captain Morgan for a fly fishing trip of a lifetime to a remote national or international fishing destination.
For all things fishy, including the latest gear, flies/fly fishing, rods/reels, clam/crabbing supplies, fishing trips, licenses/permits, and much more, swing by the shop (203-245-8665), open seven days located at 21 Boston Post Road, Madison. Face coverings optional inside but recommended. Until next time from your Connecticut shoreline’s full-service fishing outfitter and Authorized Penn Premium Dealer, where we don’t make the fisherman, we make the fisherman better.