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Captain's Focus

As winds gust to 40 mph with wind chill temperatures in near-record ranges, I was cleaning up the basement today and came across some old magazines detailing better mid-winter times for anglers. The Jan. 4, 1979 issue of The Long Island Fisherman included some reports from western Long Island party boats fishing the same areas that were also frequented by those from the northern Shore. That included the Dorothy B. from Sheepshead Bay, which now sails out of Atlantic Highlands during the season. They were reporting "Terrific" ling and whiting fishing. "Catches run 50 to 60 fish per angler with 95% of the catch made up of whiting running 1-4 lbs. Ambrose Tower has been producing the lively action." One angler's catch of whiting in those days probably exceeds all of what is now hooked throughout the year on bottom fishing boats. Then there were the cod. At Freeport, the Capt. Al (now sailing out of Pt. Lookout) reported fishing had been "hot and cold" all week though Wednesday saw between 30 and 40 cod come over the rail with several fish in the 40 lb. class included in the catch. Blue Fin II skipper Sy Karlin fished an offshore wreck on Dec. 16 that produced 18 cod for 19 men with four over 40 pounds and the pool fish of over 50 pounds. A little further east, the Capt. Scotty from Captree was fishing open bottom with only a few "doggies" around to catch over 20 cod from 20--40 lbs. that Wednesday. Though gale-force NW winds are still in the forecast into Saturday afternoon, there might be a window for fishing on Sunday when they are supposed to drop to 10-15 mph. Unfortunately, air temperatures will remain very low until a warming trend next week. The Ocean Explorer from Belmar anticipates sailing for big blackfish on Sunday.

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