Epic action before the blow. Giant bass and blues, plus lots of albies and bluefin tuna from Montauk to Block Island.
Huge tuna were reportedly feeding upon stripers.
Awesome surf bite for stripers. Potential would be extremely high if gill nets weren’t all over the east end beaches. Still, there are some quality fish being caught from shore.
Commercial fishermen are forecasting a good blackfish season given current observations.
Big sea bass, porgies, and weakfish continue to bite.
Reports of big blues all around the island.
Paul at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin ran a trip to the Housatonic this Tuesday. Despite the extremely low water level (which probably changed the night they left the river), the fishing was spectacular. The water was crystal clear, so he could see the fish and the fish could see him. That didn’t deter the bite though, as everyone caught some real nice brown trout during the day. Those fish are coming out of the deeper pools now that the water has begun cooling. Some smallmouth were also caught on the trip. They got rained on, ate some burgers in the rain, caught some fish in the rain. It sounds like an excellent fall day.
Back home, guys have been catching a ton of shad in the surf. The jetty at Jones Beach has been extremely productive. Lots of bait is moving out of the bays, and the shad are right there to intercept the various forage species. Paul recommends breaking out the 6/7 weights and having yourself a time.
Guide Tim O’Rourke of Montauk gave Paul a call to inform him on the state of the east end. There is bait up the wazoo, and all sorts of predators on them. Before the wind and rain, Tim was getting into stripers, albies and bluefish on the reg.
Word is the north shore still hasn’t turned on, but that could happen any day.
Surfcasting guide Bernie Bass had his ups and downs this week in the suds. Daytime fishing produced more consistent bites than the nighttime. Interestingly, the bigger fish he caught came during the day on S&S bucktails. The night was riddled with smaller bass. Fish came from both the rocks and the sand beaches.
The temps are dropping nicely this week, and Bernie thinks October is going to be money. He still hasn’t caught an albie yet, a feeling to which many of us can relate.
Capt Lou Fleet in Freeport had a report from Captain Anthony Gillespie’s offshore wreck trip on Sunday. Big porgies and sea bass took the rigs as soon as they hit the bottom. Some mid-sized sea bass, red hake, a few cod and 1 pollock also took the bait.
Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:
Fluke season closed with a bang! It seems like a body of solid keeper fluke moved into the bay for one last hurrah. Lots of keepers are held up in the bay slamming bucktails, Gulp, and Bass Assassins. These big fluke are mixed in well with the weakfish. There are a lot of weaks still in the bay, with fish up to six pounds being reported. Early morning tides seem to be the best.
Striped Bass have started to move at the inlets, and they are feeding on mullet, peanut bunker, and spearing. Work the first hours of the moving tides and slack water for your best opportunity. Some big fish have already come through. More solid fishing will come as the weather cools back down.
Big Bluefish are also all over the bay and the inlet, smashing lures and peeling drags. Fish in the 10-pound range are being reported consistently.
Albie action has been really hit or miss lately. Give them some time to build consistency and key in on baits, but do not give up.
At the docks we are still seeing solid snapper action, as well as blowfish and kingfish of size.
Captree’s Laura Lee had to cancel a few trips this week due to heavy winds and rain. Just prior, they had a couple decent trips focused primarily on fluke. Sea bass, blowfish and sea robins mixed up the catch. Yesterday afternoon, they got back after the fluke for th the final day of the season, catching 26. They also caught one weakfish, one bluefish and eight sea robins.
Although the fishing wasn’t exactly lights out mid-week, Monday was an absolute banger. Hopefully we’ll get back on that track once the winds settle down. Monday’s full day trip saw 5 albies, 2 bonito, 525 big porgies, 270 sea bass, 54 bluefish, 7 red hake, 4 flounder, 6 mackerel and 10 cunner.
Lindenhurst Bait & Tackle finished the fluke season strong with plenty of keepers this week. The week started with 14 keepers in the GSB to five pounds. The fish were keyed in on 6 inch gulp grubs. The bite was red hot.
Drew said fuhgeddabout the fluke, and hit the Kismet Reef instead. There he caught a bunch of porgies, blowfish and sea bass, but his catch of the day was a huge triggerfish which came home for dinner.
Dave Flanagan of “North Island Fly” has been on the big blues this week, with plenty of smaller ones mixed in. There are lots of schoolie blitzes starting to materialize in the rips, fueled by rain bait. The jig bite has been hot this week.
There are some real tank bass around also. One nearly inhaled a three pound blue boatside.
Albies and bonito reports are beginning to trickle in. The best action seems to be in the deeper water in the middle of nowhere. Dave says this is a sure sign they’re streaming in and the fishery should explode any moment.
This weekend is the Tightlined Slam, a C&R fly/light tackle tournament focused on conservation efforts. It is based in the western Long Island Sound, and in support of the American Saltwater Guides Association. There are individual and team prizes for targeting stripers, blues, albies and bonito. Dave seeks to take the cup this year!
It’s been a good week aboard the Celtic Quest Fishing Fleet of Port Jefferson. Weakfish were aggressive and plentiful, providing a nice mixed bag along with porgies and sea bass. Bluefish were also biting, keeping rods bent all week.
They took a quick hiatus once the wind started to pick up, but they’ll be back in action starting Friday morning from their fall run headquarters in Mattituck.
Mark at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport says the water is about 68 degrees up there, and the fish are lively. There are plenty of schoolie bass, weakfish, and blues to 4-5 pounds. Surf guys are being entertained by a mostly smaller pick of all these fish. Boat guys can run off a little bit to find some bigger blues.
The reigning attribute this week along the north shore, however, was the terrible water quality. North winds tend to dirty up the water up there and slow down the fishing. As the winds lay down, and a change in wind direction is forecasted for the weekend, we’re expecting the water quality to improve gradually.
Bait-wise, it’s just ridiculous. Mark had just been watching a huge school of peanut bunker, maybe thousands of fish, swimming around nervously in the harbor. He couldn’t tell if there was anything on them, but the 4-5 inch oily baitfish definitely seemed wary and schooled tightly.
Blue claws are still around. Porgies are still around. Fluke season closed with a bang; a lot of guys got their keepers.
Mark’s seeing mullet up there, for the first time in a long time. Although mullet can be tough to “see,” Mark knows them to be more common in the south shore bays. They’re seeing some big ones up there right now though. He heard mullet are currently pouring out of Fire Island inlet.
Mullet have been making these runs since before humans knew about them. Anglers could once count on the mullet run to produce some bigger bass. Mark and I lamented about how this is no longer the case. Finding the bait does not always mean finding the fish. Pattern fishing for striped bass has deteriorated along with the fishery itself.
Captain Stu Paterson of “Northport Charters” says there’s still lots of life in the LI Sound and bay. He’s been jigging big blues this week, between 6-8 pounds. Sea bass are biting daily, up to four pounds. Big pork chop porgies are biting, to 2.5 pounds. Fluke season just ended yesterday, and Stu hasn’t happened upon any albies yet.
Stu’s booking blackfish charters now, for the season opening Oct. 11 in the Sound. Call 631-707-3266 to book!
Kenny at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor hasn’t heard much so far this week, as the wind picked up and made the water virtually unfishable. He hit the beach yesterday with his daughter, and the wind was blowing completely southwest (sideways), building the surf and dirtying it up.
Before that, the fishing could not have been better. This past weekend provided some epic scenes for boat anglers. Out in Montauk, school after school after school was moving through, and the anglers on the water were able to catch bass and blues feeding on sandeels and bunker. Bluefin tuna from 100-400 pounds were crashing through those schools too, and it’s possible they were even eating the bass and blues. There were some stray reports of customers hooking fish, and then getting spooled within seconds.
The fishing would slow down at times, but as soon as the tide picked back up, the fishing did also.
Some guys had the personal best fishes, going over 40 pounds. Other guys caught 35-40 fish, all 35-40 pounds. The southwest ledge in particular was on fire. One boat bailed large on white doc spooks before sunrise. When sunrise occurred, they dropped some mega shads down low, continuing the bite. Throughout the day, they clipped on a variety of diamond jigs and kept crushing big fish. “It was friggin’ hammer time,” Kenny says.
In Montauk it was all-out blitzes on the surface in the early morning. There were lots of over-slot fish, as well as plenty of slot-sized fish being caught.
Even the surf fishing was phenomenal. There were big fish getting caught from Napeague to Shinnecock. One angler had six quick bass in a row near Shinny, all over 20 pounds on an SP minnow. That guy came in and bought as many rattling plugs as Kenny could sell him.
Sag Harbor produced extremely well before the blow as well. There were whispers of some 20+ pound bass being taken from shore. A customer of Kenny’s was casting poppers from his boat to bluefish in the ferry slip. Those fish went to 15 pounds. After, he trolled umbrella rigs for some quality, keeper bass and more big blues.
These reports all came right before the inclement weather this week. Kenny says the weather has effectively reset the table, and he’s anxious to see what’ll come next.
Kenny is currently adding an offshore section to his shop, so be sure to check it out if you’re in the market.
Jeff at Whitewater Outfitters in Hampton Bays told me Montauk was insane the other day, before the blow. Most guys haven’t fished since then. The albies were the talk of the town.
Back home by Shinnecock, the albies showed up just before the blow. Hopefully they’ll be in there as the wind subsides. We’ve been without them for a few weeks now, so their presence would be some much-needed therapy.
A lot of real nice bass were caught off the beach, mostly by gill nets. Some surfcasters got lucky, but the nets really cleaned up, evidenced by the many dead trophy stripers laying on the beach.
There haven’t been a ton of good bluefish around.
Fluke fishing was decent right before the season closed.
Tuna fishing was also good before the blow. There was a good amount of bluefin being caught in the Montauk area. Hopefully that’ll continue this weekend.
It’s all about hope right now, and there’s a lot of very good reasons to have some.
Rick from Harbor Marina of East Hampton reports:
Not that I could set my clock by them, but the false albacore did make a showing in earnest this week. Reports full of light tackle bravado were being shared at local tackle shops by anglers with wide grins on their faces. Most reports were from Montauk, but I am hopeful we will see fish filtering into Gardiners Bay and the eastern Long Island Sound for the upcoming weekend.
In addition to the appearance of schools of Albacore, large flocks of birds marked pods of bait with striped bass underneath, providing some good old school diamond jigging opportunities east of Montauk Point and out towards Block Island. Some striped bass have started to move down the beaches, and a mix of mostly schoolies and a couple of quality fish have been reported from the sand beaches along the East Hampton south shore.
Sea Bass and Porgies remain strong on the deeper structures to the east. Fluking season is over, and now we are all awaiting the blackfish openers on the 11th for LI Sound, west of Orient Point and the 15th for all waters east and south of the LI Sound region.
Bluefish have made a stronger showing this year and remain mixed into some of the Albie and Striped Bass frenzies.
Don’t overlook some of the backwaters of the eastern Peconics, as they are still chock full of bait, and can hold some nice fish. These waters can provide a nice opportunity for younger anglers given the somewhat easier access.
It looks like a nice weekend on top and it should be prime time on the water for boats and surfmen alike.
Surf guide Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball hit the suds hard this week, guiding clients through all hours of the night. The action seemed to primarily come in the dark and low-light periods. Schoolie bass and blues to 12 pounds were the main takers. That 12 pound cannibal actually spit up one of its own, a snapper blue. Bill has had the idea of a snapper bite on his mind this whole September.
From 2:30am on Saturday, through the rest of the weekend, Bill only got one hit between himself, 2 clients and his daughter.
He got to watch some dolphins feeding on a huge school of bunker, which is awesome, but the absence of biting fish had him reflecting on the lackluster state of our striped bass fishery. The schools of fish are smaller compared to what we saw years ago, so it has been harder to find patterns. Bill says the fish are mainly moving on moon tides and big weather patterns, making it all the more difficult. He is expecting the moon to really kick things into high gear.
On Tuesday night, he left Montauk for the open beaches of Shirley to take his charter Joe out. They found lots of weed right off the bat, but pulled one bluefish from it. They ditched the weed for backwaters, where there was plenty of bait but nothing feeding upon it. Then they went back down to the beach for three missed hits on a Sebile plug.
Chris from Double D Charters in Montauk says the striper fishery has continued to impress. Usually we’ll experience a lull in the bass fishing this time of year. Luckily, the bite has remained strong this year. Bass can be caught every which way from diamond jigs to topwater.
Black Sea bass have been much larger lately. They’re averaging about four pounds, and providing boat limits. They are coming with a mix of jumbo porgies.
The false albacore have arrived. There’s a fleet of boats out there primarily targeting them, and Chris wants to give a word of caution about speeding in the fog. Driving so recklessly is dangerous to yourself, other boaters, and the marine mammals that frequent our waters. Take your time, be patient. The fish aren’t going anywhere soon.
The bluefin tuna are still thick off of Montauk. They have been spotted all the way from here to Block Island.
Montauk’s Viking Fleet has had a slow week on the boat, attributable to the long period swells and moon tides. Mary Weiss of Hartsdale, NY took the pool on Sunday morning with a 3.2 pound sea bass, and then took second place that afternoon with a 3.3 pound sea bass.
On Monday, the Starship headed towards Block Island for a mix of sea bass and porgies. It wasn’t a banner day, but bags were filled. Some triggerfish and a 10 pound stripers also came over the rails.
Tuesday, the Starship headed offshore to find some sea bass, porgies and cod. Then they ran to Block Island for a slow, steady pick of mostly large porgies, a few sea bass and some triggerfish. Louis Murray from Brooklyn took a 2.7 pound porgy to take the pool. The edible pool went to Yan Yee Chung from Queens who took a 4.2 pound sea bass.
David at Westlake Marina in Montauk says not much has been reported since the wind picked up. Before that, though, the bass bite was pretty darn good. Most action is occurring at midway, and around the southwest ledge. It was HOT! Some guys got out this morning, and earned their keep in the 15+ mph west blow. David saw a few carcasses on the dock. Once the wind dies down, we’ll really be able to tell if the madness will continue.
Black Sea bass fishing was still excellent at the beginning of the week.
Commercial fishermen are starting to get some really good tog, so they’re forecasting a good blackfish season, opening October 15.
We said goodbye to a lousy overall fluke season. David says it was perfectly in line with the “rest” of 2020.
The bluefin tuna stuff got pretty ridiculous though. Guys who have been fishing their whole lives say they never saw anything like what they experienced at the beginning of this week. A 400 pound bluefin tuna was chasing 12 pound stripers right up and out of the water next to their boat.
The outer bar, from Montauk village to Napeague Lane, has been filled with fish and birds. There haven’t been a ton of quality fish coming from the suds, and David reckons they’re mostly hanging out there, as they have been doing the past few years.
Long Island Fishing Forecast
If last weekend is any indication of what we can expect this weekend, cancel everything and go fishing.
The words I’ve heard spoken about the action off Montauk this weekend are enticing enough. The videos I saw corroborate all the crazy descriptions. Check out Sarah Grace Charters’ Instagram page, which has a video of what looks like a bluefin/big striper blitz.
I missed out on the action, bogged down by personal obligations.
Luckily there was some smaller-scale surfcasting to be done in the aftermath. I didn’t catch any keepers, but I caught a lot of shorts to start the week. Even as the seas rose, the bite continued. There were some big fish caught here and there, not by me. I am confident that a consistent effort will eventually produce one big fish for me though. That’d be just dandy, especially on the fly rod.
I’ve got this idea in my head that there are sand eels here. I haven’t seen any, and I haven’t heard of anybody seeing any. I’m doing well on sand eel patterns though. I’m certain people are doing well on fishy presentations as well, though. So, take it or leave it. There’s a smorgasbord out there.
Although I am most excited about the big bass potential, I have an albie itch that needs a’scratchin’. This should be the week that everything really breaks loose, and the opportunities come ashore. I think it could be doing that as I type.
Enough said. I gotta go fishing. Hire a guide! Tight lines.