Long Island – New York Fishing Report – May 21, 2020

A gator bluefish caught by the author on the fly.

The recent, nearshore giant bluefin tuna bite has been extremely hot. The season closes tonight at 11:30pm though.

This current porgy season is one for the books.

Gator Bluefish action is absurd right now. Fish of all sizes are in.

Plentiful stripers, fluke and weakfish in the bays. Some better bass are moving along the coast quietly, sneaking into the inlets.

Blowfish and kingfish are in.

Worm hatches, clouds of spearing, and just about every other type of bait you can imagine have been feeding our fisheries this week.

Vinny from CrossBay Bait and Tackle in Howard Beach says the bite was tough this week due to the unforgiving winds. Guys were picking up a few fluke here and there.

The striper action has slowed down, and Vinny hasn’t heard of anything really big just yet. The quality bass should still be in the Raritan. There’s a few out back behind the airport, but it certainly slowed down this week.

The porgy bite picked up a bit by Canarsie Pier.

Paul at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin says the fishing has been good and consistent when the weather is good. Last week Paul caught his first striper of the year. It was about 26 inches, and then he proceeded to catch one after the other, gradually decreasing in size until he caught a 6-inch striper the same size as his fly. The next night, his son hit the same spot and got a couple of those bigger, near-keeper bass. They saw seals back there, which took them by surprise.

There haven’t been too many local bluefish reports. Paul blames the coronavirus testing station at West End 2, where the bluefish bonanza would normally take place right now. The jetty is shut down due to the testing facility. Paul said that drug stores will now be offering testing, so the jetty should reopen soon.

Orson Frisbie caught this monster sea robin this week.

Paul hit the evening session at Connetquot this weekend with his wife. The fish were tired after getting beaten up by other anglers all day, so they didn’t catch a ton of fish. Paul had a 22 inch rainbow on a dry, and he heard that anglers in the earlier sessions got into a few small brown trout.

Rob at LI Outdoorsman in Rockville Centre says there’s been a “little tuna bite,” but that’s quite the understatement. Rob said guys have been catching some big fish, 400-plus pounds, not far offshore. Giant bluefin have been making fools of fishermen who choose to battle them alone. Multiple stories of guys getting spooled have come to Rob’s ears.

Guys with big boats that can handle the wind and waves have been getting bites during that harsh weather. 

If you haven’t gotten in on the bite, you are out of luck, because that fishery shuts down tonight at 11:30 p.m.

Fluke are in the back bays. It’s a typical bite for this time of year: lots of shorts, with a few keepers in the mix. Rob targeted them last Wednesday and caught a dozen fish to 17 inches. Gulp, spearing, bucktails and teaser rigs were all quite effective.

Stripers are all over the bays, and are excellent targets for fly- and light-tackle anglers.

Schoolie stripers are also in the back bays. Rob hasn’t heard much from the ocean front, mainly because of the big winds and waves. His buddy has been fishing the docks every night, and usually catches about a dozen fish. Schoolies are so thick in the Great South Bay that targeting fluke has been kind of a joke. You can’t even get to the bottom without a bass taking your bait. Some weakfish are coming to the hands of those fishing the Great South Bay.

There’s been a porgy bite going on.

The shop is open, and stocked with bait. Bloodworms have been the most popular bait lately.

Kathy from Freeport Bait & Tackle said the same thing as Rob in RVC, the tuna bite has been something else. Word has been traveling fast all over the radio. My buddy Chris Ravn told me there were about 200 boats out looking for them this past weekend. Crazy.

Kathy has been seeing all sorts of new people at her shop these days. People who haven’t fished in years (or ever) are coming by for gear and advice. Anglers from the city are calling in as well, looking for local hotspots and tips. It sounds like a lot of the city’s fishing spots are shut down, so people are running to Long Island hotspots to get their meat.

Inventory has therefore been flying off the shelves. Wholesalers are having a tough time keeping up with the demand, as they were forced to close, and then reopen with skeleton crews. It’s extremely difficult for many of them to keep up with their backlogs.

The bait situation is luckily not getting hit hard. Kathy is stocked with all kinds of bait. Guys are buying bunker and clams for stripers, or bloodworms, sandworms, and clams for porgies. 

Spearing and gulp are going to the fluke fishermen. 

Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside had a promising report from Lloyd Malsin of Nansea, who boated 17 flounder on the incoming tide. Short stripers, blowfish and a couple of monster porgies also bent his rod. Next he moved to some extremely productive Ling grounds, catching 40 or so before calling it quits. Lots of releases.

On Saturday, Caiden Downling landed a 3-pound fluke aboard the Lizzie D. The fish ate his squid/spearing combo.

Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale says there’s unbelievable bluefish action right now. 9-12 pound blues are the norm, and anglers are getting them on just about every cast with any lure.

Schoolie stripers are in, and there’s plenty in the bays, but the better fish are in the ocean. Boat guys are catching slot-sized fish out there.

The fluke season is going well so far. Most of the fish are in the back bays and on the flats. Guys are catching some nice ones on bucktails and gulp.

Surf anglers are getting weakfish off the beach. His buddy had an eight pounder. The weaks in the bays so far have been the smaller variety.

Blowfish and kingfish are in! Despite the cold water temps, these fish have been quite plentiful around the docks and bridge structures.

Phil at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport says the striper bite has been going well. Tins, SP minnows, clams and worms have all been working from the beach. Nicer days have been more productive.

Fluke fishing has been great from both shore and boat. A few 22-23 inch flatties have come to anglers’ hands. The keepers are mostly inside the bays; you don’t have to go deep.

Phil recommends looking for spearing. There are clouds of them, and the predatory fish that find them turn into fiends. Reports of porgies blitzing, jumping clear out of the water gulping mouthfuls of small spearing are coming from guys fishing the sound. Searobins have been seen blitzing on spearing right on shore. So keep your eye out for spearing! Don’t just go to a ledge and drop down, hoping for the best. Keep an eye on your fish finder, looking out for clouds of bait.

Late May there is usually a squid run on the outer beaches. It doesn’t happen to the same extent in the bay. Phil says to look out for fluke spitting up baby squid. Once you start seeing that, the doormats should be in town.

Guys are getting into the weakfish pretty good right now. Surfcasters in the night are finding the best fish, up to about 26 inches. Boat guys are averaging fish 16 to 20 inches. There are a lot of shorts.

Dave Flanagan of “North Island Fly” guide service in Smithtown says the bite is still pretty hot when you can get through the wind. Dave’s waiting for the blues to reach the north shore; he reckons a little warm weather should bring them on.

Stripers are crushing spearing in the bays, and the bite in the Sound is picking up.

Dave will seek larger fish in the Sound this week. Bunker are settling in and water temps in the bays/harbors are reaching 63 degrees.

He thinks the bass run will be long this year. Everything seems a little delayed, so hopefully the water temps won’t rise too fast and fish will feel more comfortable staying put when they get there.

Steven at Wego Fishing Bait & Tackle in Southold says the peconic Bay Area has bass, weakfish and jumbo porgies. It’s such a good porgy year right now.

Bluefish invaded the North Fork, as well as jumbo sea robins. These guys are making fluke fishing extremely difficult.

Guys are getting tons of porgies off the beach. Up in the creeks you’ll find schoolie bass and weakfish.

The Sound is starting to come alive. The big porgies are there. A few guys are doing the bass scene at night in the Sound now.

One thing that surprised Steven was the presence of blowfish. Big blowfish are in good right now. He heard the south shore has lots of them. The water seems a bit cold for them, but they’re here all right.

Anglers are purchasing sp minnows, storm shads and S&S bucktails for the surf game.

Kenny at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor says the fishing improved immensely since last week. Keeper fluke and weakfish were caught in the bays. There were worm hatches all over, sparking excellent night time fishing. Even if you can’t catch the fish that are eating in that situation, it’s an awesome natural phenomenon to witness.

The porgy fishing has been great. The fluking improved, but it’s challenging because you often have to weed through 70-100 sea robins before you catch a fluke.

Big blues invaded the east end this past week. Most are 6-8 pounds, but Kenny saw one fish that was 39 inches and close to 19 pounds.

Bryce at Whitewater Outfitters in Hampton Bays says that fluking has been a bit of a challenge. The fish that are around are in the bay. They’re hanging in the shallower water that warms up quickly. Both Shinnecock and Peconic bays should produce.

The local bays are improving quickly. Lots of fish are in.

The porgies are ravenous in the peconic, around areas like Jessups.

Bass continue to be small, and the bite has been tide dependent. They’re in the big water in the peconic. There are a few keepers in the mix, and Bryce even heard of a few fish up to 20 pounds. Bunker was on the menu for those larger bass.

Bluefish have invaded. There’s a wide variety of sizes, from small to very large. There are plenty of mediums too, which Bryce says have been absent the past few years.

Bluefin tuna and thresher sharks are starting to show. There aren’t many people targeting the threshers, but they’ve been biting.

Rick from Harbor Marina of East Hampton reports that schoolie bass are in the creeks. It seems like the fish are still exhibiting early season behavior, being more active on warm, sunny days. Keeper fluke are starting to show in Gardiners Bay. Bluefish are on the scene, showing up at their usual spots. Porgy fishing is in full swing, and is one’s best bet for putting a bend in the rod.

Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball fished the hard northeast wind yesterday. He says that these conditions at this precise time of year have produced his best days of fishing. He once considered there to be a 100% chance of catching quality stripers under these conditions. Unfortunately, this is no longer the case.

Bill and his charter did manage a couple bass to 7 pounds though, after a thorough effort.

Chris from Double D Charters in Montauk says porgies have invaded the inlet. People have been catching limits of jumbos on the incoming tide, as well as a number of blowfish

The striped bass have gotten a bit smaller, but they’re very plentiful.

There’s plenty of fluke action to be had along the south side, and there’s even a few doormats coming to hand.

The codfish bite is still hot as the dickens.

Tons of bait is being pushed around the light. In the mix are sandeels, spearing, cinder worms, squid, and acres of bunker.

Bluefin tuna were getting caught off Montauk for about a week and a half.

Chris fished the surf yesterday and said he had one of the best days of his life! He caught a ton of bluefish, a dozen stripers and three giant shad. He’s extremely optimistic about the next few days’ fishing potential.

Montauk’s Viking Fleet seeks to reopen as soon as NYS allows, and will comply with the state mandates regarding the spread of the virus.

They got a couple recreational trips in recently, and got on porgies, fluke, sea bass, striped bass and bluefish. Keep an eye on their website to stay up to date on their potential reopening and the new procedures they’re instituting to make that possible.

Surf Fishing guide Bernie Bass says the action was consistent all week, with good numbers of small bass. The rising temperatures have started to get things going. Hopefully some bigger fish will start moving in consistently as well. There was plenty of action to be had on the surface this week. There is a lot of bunker between the forks, with some shad in the mix.

Gator blues have arrived out front, in the bays and inlets. They have been biting from sunrise to sunset.

Long Island Fishing Forecast

The NYC mayor is telling NYC anglers to go fishing on Long Island. The influx of anglers is a huge part of the reason that one of the East End’s most famous spots got completely shut down last weekend. Fire trucks blocked the entrance, and patrol cars perused the beach disallowing any recreation. Now is perhaps a better time than ever to keep one’s lips sealed tight about a good bite. There are more anglers than ever before, and most of the rookies either don’t know or don’t care about the regulations. Don’t hesitate to call the DEC if you witness rampant poachings.

Remember, bluefish regulations now stipulate you can only keep three per day.

Look for fishing outside the popular spots this weekend, which are likely to get mobbed by the holiday weekend crowds.

There’s a huge variety of fish to target, and an even greater variety of spots to find them, all over the island. There is no need to crowd.

Good luck y’all. Have some fun with the bluefish, and please treat them with respect!

Tight lines!


3 on “Long Island – New York Fishing Report – May 21, 2020

  1. Donald Hecht

    It would be great if all LI bait and tackle shops petitioned to open Jones Beach West End.

  2. Mark Marco

    Can anyone comment on the abundance of slip gut in the state channel by Captree state park. It has made the waters totally unfishable for the entire month of May. I fish these water every year and have never seen anything like this before. Does anyone know the cause?

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