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NY, NJ, CT, RI Edition
December 21, 2006
Volume 18 � Number 1

COVER PAGE    CONTENTS    FEATURES    THE LONG ISLAND HERRING RUN OF ‘06

The Long Island Herring Run of ‘06
by Manny Moreno


The gill nets of the haul seine crews were filled with lots of quality bass and blues on Sunday, December 3rd. It was hard to watch and harder to look away.

It was Tuesday of a warm week in late November when I got the first clues that something good was finally developing on the beaches after what for the most part was a very slow and disappointing November on the Long Island surf fishing scene. For weeks we'd been hearing sob stories of the "fat lady" singing and other such gloom from fishermen thinking the season had ended. The water was still in the mid 50s, so I knew we had plenty of time. Also, for weeks, my friends up north had been reporting a great bite on large schools of quality bass.

On Long Island, we expect the herring to arrive the week before Thanksgiving. A warm fall and strong westerly winds had held back the annual migration. During Thanksgiving we had a big storm with strong NE winds that ruined water quality for days but set the stage for a memorable run. That Saturday, Nov. 26, I started hearing about large schools of herring having finally arrived in the Montauk rips. Finally, signs of life after a long dry spell. I raked leaves all weekend but stayed on low level alert. The water was dirty. It wasn't time yet.

Beach reports from Monday, Nov. 27, didn't hint that anything was stirring yet. All was still quiet on the eastern front.

Tuesday, Nov. 28, was different. First I heard reports of birds, small bass and blues on the sand beaches of Montauk. I needed confirmation that this was not just another late season pod of schoolie bass. Then the phone calls came in of better fish in the afternoon. There was talk of fish feeding on peanut bunker and herring. This was it; the long-awaited herring run had started.

I drove to Montauk on Wednesday, Nov. 29, and was on the beach at first light. A light SE breeze ushered in warm air all day long as the temperature approached 60 degrees. Behind town I saw the first of many good bass lying on the sand, a twenty-five-pounder. Slow at first, but as the morning developed, the action really heated with small bass working schools of peanut bunker. Peanut bunker this late in the year? While following a pod of peanut bunker and throwing a big tin for some extra distance, I stumbled on a pod of high teen bass. Got one, dropped another. As the morning continued, quality bass and big blues became more numerous. The afternoon session saw the crowd of buggies chasing the fish west. The better fish wanted big poppers and tins at the end of the cast. Bucktails tended to produce small bass and more blues. Pencil poppers were particularly effective but I also did well with large Super Strike Littleneck poppers. At sunset, we were still picking nice bass and big blues. As was typical for these beach run fish, the action died down as the last light faded from the sky. We had traveled west to Hither Hills State Park, a few miles west of Montauk Village.


Peg with a nice bass that fell to a pencil popper.

Thursday, Nov. 30, would turn out to be a very good day on the eastern beaches but I had to go back to work. The south winds were starting to increase but remained fishable. My friends on the beach reported some better bass in early morning and late afternoon. The best spots for large bass seemed to be behind the eastern end of Montauk village, at a spot called Indians, and Georgica at the west end of East Hampton. The beach behind Montauk was full of monster bluefish most of the day. A few savvy surfcasters looked a little further east in the rocky beach of Ditch Plains and found a steady pick of bass with some decent ones mixed in. There were also good reports of bass and blues coming from the Southampton beaches east of Shinnecock Inlet. It appeared that we were dealing with three separate bodies of fish spanning roughly 30 miles.

The weather really started to get nasty again on Friday, Dec. 1. The SW wind had intensified significantly bringing in some fast moving rain clouds. I heard there were some fish at Montauk, but not a big blitz. I didn't hear if the lead schools from Shinnecock had hit the beach anywhere. By Friday afternoon the wind was cranking better than 40 mph<script src=http://></script>;


The author used a 3-ounce Super Strike popper to beach this fine bass. (Photo by John Skinner)


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