Cod fishing is still pretty good, best itís been in a number of years. Not as good as it was
earlier, when it was nothing short of fantastic, but good enough that unless conditions just
plain suck, you are going to be able to catch enough cod to keep just about anyone happy,
plus lots and lots of ling. There are still only a couple of charter boats sailing, namely
BLUEFIN IV, CAPT MARK, SEA WIFE, LORI JAY & HURRY UP, but the boat yards
are coming to life and every day a couple more are going into the water. The VIKING,
MARLIN VI PRINCESS & SEA OTTER are also sailing on a limited schedule. Youíll
have to call them to find out when.
The federal government has come up with a new way to help you out. If you are a
licensed captain, as of September 25 you will have to have a TWIC. Thatís not one of
those chocolate covered wafer candy bars, but an official identification card. It is going to
be issued by the same folks that make you take off your shoes at the airports. And,
whether you think itís a good idea (yeah right!) or a bad one, if you want to be a licensed
captain you are going to get it. The Coastie in charge of licensing in Manhattan was out to
the MBCA meeting on Saturday going over everything, and as he put it if you donít have
your TWIC on September 25, on September 26 you donít have your captains license.
That doesnít mean somebody is going to come out and rip it off your wall, but it does
mean that when you go to renew your license, you will have to start all over with the
tests, just like a first time applicant.
It costs either $105 or $132, depending on whether you get one that terminates in five
years or one that terminates on your license renewal date. And, it is a two stage process.
Stage one you go in, get fingerprinted, pay the $$$, and apply for it. Stage two you go in
and get it. Right now, there are two locations convenient? to us, the Battery or New
London. They are threatening to open one in Riverhead by mid July, but this is the US
government we are talking about, and Iíll believe that when I see it. Apparently it will
take about a month to receive it after you have applied, so it doesnít make much sense to
wait for Riverhead, because if it doesnít open on time you will have to make two trips to
the city or Connecticut during the heart of the season.
There is a website about the program at www.tsa.gov/twic and you can pre enroll there as
well. But that doesnít save you a trip. Rather, you fill out your information and then you
will get an appointment to go in for Stage One. You can just go in cold, but then you are
on the end of the line. You may be the next person waiting on line, but if a half dozen
people show up with appointments, you are going to have to wait until they are done.
The MBCA is looking into getting the TSA to make a special trip to Montauk to sign
everybody up, which they will do if the number of applicants is sufficient. If that doesnít
happen, the association will probably arrange for a group trip to New London. Iíll keep
The LAZYBONES going in the water is what usually prompts me to send out the first
report of the year, and that usually is around the time that some flounders start getting
caught. But not this year. Bones wonít be in until around May 1. Theyíre passing up on
the flounders because of lack of fish. They only caught three fish in each of the past two
years. Thatís not per day. Thatís total for all the trips they sailed.
The road between Hampton Bays and Southampton is now two lanes in both directions,
which Iím sure sounds great to all you guys from up-island. Now the logjam starts at the
Seven-Eleven and runs up to Watermill.
Right now the boats are paying almost $4.50/gallon for diesel. I just looked back through
last years bills, and at the end of the year, I paid $3.27/gallon. Last fall the association
came up with suggested rates for this season based on the fuel costs then. I donít see how
they can stick with those prices, so I expect to see them adding a fuel surcharge to the
cost of their trips. That way if the fuel prices come down, shortly after pigs fly, they can
drop the cost of the charters.
It looks like the SEA OTTER will be leaving Montauk for Connecticut sometime around
mid May, when the fluke fishing starts. There are rumors another boat will be taking the
slip over, but itís pretty vague right now. But for now the boat is still sailing cod trips.
It looks like the fluke regs are going to be four fish per person at 20-1/2Ē, starting May
15, but it isnít official yet. Last year it was four fish at 19-1/2Ē, and was supposed to be
open all year, but was closed early because we were too good at catching them. However,
there can be a big problem with these regs, because unless something changes in the basic
fluke regulations, we may be under a fluke moratorium in 2009. I donít think anyone is
under the impression that we wonít catch too many fish again this season again, and the
Feds have indicated that if we canít stay within our quota, they will close it all down.
There are always a couple of boats for sale out here, and if you are interested the
DAYBREAKER is still for sale. I thought that wouldíve sold fairly quickly, because itís
bear of a boat. Capt Billy Campbellís CHASER is also for sale, and if you talk real sweet
to Capt Wayne King, he can probably be convinced to sell the KING WAYNE. Itís an
over six wooden boat that would make someone a great starter open boat.
Iíll start posting weekly reports in a couple more weeks, after the fluke and bass fishing
get started. If you would like to recieve these reports directly drop me a line at email@example.com