Items of Interest to Saltwater Fly Rodders in the Long Island, New York Area
by Frank Dalecki, Jr. E-Mail: frank@noreast.com


Dino's "Wiggly"
by Capt. Dino Torino

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3M Scientific Anglers Acquires
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Cortland Long Distance 444SLs

Mastery Series Species Specific Leaders

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Installing A
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Mystery "Snappers"

The other week, Ken Morse of Bay View Bait & Tackle in Sag Harbor reported that he had been hearing reports about small bluefish -- too small to be considered "cocktails," yet too large to be called "snappers." Last week, Glenn Ophoff sent me an e-mail, re-confirming the report. "I caught a little bluefish/snapper out at Montauk while I was fluke fishing last Saturday," he wrote. "If it weighed 1 pound, that was pushing it. There were a few other little guys caught on the boat, as well. I was surprised to see them."

We're all surprised to see such small bluefish at this time of the year, so I checked with Byron Young of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation who wasn't that surprised at all.
"We see them every once in a while," he said. Byron identified the baby blues as "year-plus fish," meaning that they were hatched in 1999, and are not part of some freakish millennium spawn. "Bluefish spawn on the Continental Shelf," he explained. "The major spawn is off the Carolinas in April. The secondary spawn is off our New York and New Jersey coastline and sometimes there's a third spawn off Cape Cod, but that doesn't happen every year. This year's Carolina bluefish fry are about 1 to 2 inches by now."

After they put on a few inches, bluefish fry come inshore -- the "snappers" we're used to seeing in late August and September. They'll move offshore in the fall and usually remain offshore until they are two years old. "This time," Byron said, "last year's Carolina spawn came inshore one year early."
Interestingly, most bluefish length/weight comparison charts begin with 2-year-old fish, not 1 year olds.

Bluefish Comparison Table

Length
In Inches
Approximate
Weight
In Pounds
Approximate
Age
13-14 2+ 2
18 4+ 3
21-22 6+ 4
24 8 5
26-27 10 6
28 11-12 7
29+ 12-13 8
30+ 14 9
32 15 10
33 16 11
33-34 16-17+ 12
34-36 17+ 13
36+ 18+ 14

Byron added that the prevailing winds have a lot to do with baby bluefish migration patterns. Sustained westerly winds will push the "snappers" out, and an easterly flow of air will bring them to the coastline sooner.
A 2-year-old bluefish is generally around 13 to 14 inches long and weighs a little over 2 pounds. The 4-pound "cocktails" we've been seeing a lot of around Long Island this spring are three years old.
The largest bluefish ever caught in New York waters is Peter Weber, Jr.'s 25-pounder, caught aboard the Bluefin IV out of Montauk in October of 1998. A 19-pound 12-ounce slammer leads the list in the IGFA's fly rod division. It was caught on a 16-pound test tippet off Nags Head, North Carolina, in November of 1987. In fact, only four of the IGFA's saltwater fly rod tippet class bluefish records in the new 2000 edition of World Record Game Fishes in both the Men's and Women's divisions are for blues caught outside of the fall season, so keep in mind that a fat, fall bluefish that has been stuffing itself with bunker can put on the pounds rather quickly and the weight comparisons for the larger 'gators may be somewhat off come September. As for those "year-plus snappers" -- they've been popping up on the East End inside of the stomachs of larger fluke, and stripers might also find them to be tasty treats. Their lengths are from around 6 to 10 inches, so when all else fails, try breaking out the big, fall patterns.