Long Island – New York Fishing Report – November 12, 2020

20-to-40 pound bass are still around, tog fishing is stellar, and tuna in the surf.

A blackfish caught aboard Capt. Stu Paterson's boat.

Tuna in the surf. Bigger stripers are coming in regularly on the night tides. Waves of stripers have moved quickly along the beach all autumn long. More time on the water essentially means more big fish. We’re on the cusp of small-fish season, so get after the bigger girls while the getting’s still good. 30-to-40 pound bass near the city. Plenty of trophies are still making their way slowly west along the south shore. Tautog and black sea bass fishing is stellar on the North Fork and out in the ocean. Double-digit tog and 6-pound sea bass are not uncommon.

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Long Island Fishing Report

Frank, at Bernie’s Bait and Tackle in Brooklyn, says striped bass fishing reigns supreme in the area right now. The schools are well spread out, and there are all different sizes in the schools. Guys searching around sunrise are doing the best work, anywhere from the Tin Can Grounds inside Jamaica Bay, to Sandy Hook. Some areas generally hold smaller fish from 5-to-8-pounds; other areas tend to hold schools containing 20-to-40 pounders. The type of fish you catch really depends on the area you fish, and the techniques you employ. The reality is, you’ve got a shot at 30-and-40-pound bass right now. Frank says you have a good shot at these big bass in the VZ area, the 69th Street pier, and down to Red Hook. Guys chunking fresh bunker are finding some large fish. Live eels and live bunker are good for bigger bass too. The bigger fish tend to hold near areas with access to deeper water. Boat guys are trolling bunker spoons, shad rigs, umbrella rigs, and Mojos for the cow stripers. Basically, everything is catching, it just depends where you are. Diamond jigs are flying off the walls, in every color. They’re doing a number in the surf. In fact, any sand eel imitation is great right now. There is a tremendous amount of bunker in the NY Bight area and offshore. Whales and dolphins have been seen feeding upon the schools from the Rockaways to Jones Inlet. Striped bass are often hanging near these schools as well. There have even been reports of shark activity due to the presence of bunker. The porgy and tautog fisheries take second place this week. Angling pressure has been dwindling on the porgy front, but guys are still coming in to buy bloodworms very regularly, and there’s still some decent fish to be taken. There are tons of small tog providing very consistent action, but the odds of catching a keeper have dropped. Frank says experienced anglers are will probably catching 6 shorts before they even hook a keeper. It’s a tough fishery, as it’s mostly short fish. The old school way to do it was to chum, and bring the fish in. Unfortunately for the old-timers, dogfish and skates are attracted to the chum and can chew on your bait more quickly than a tautog can get to it. Chumming isn’t the best option. You’re going to have to work to get some keeper tog.

[Article: How to Catch Tautog]

Josh, at Gypsea Charters in Rockaway, says bass fishing remains very good. An abundance of bait in the area is keeping the stripers around. Mixed sizes are filtering through the area, ranging from short, slot, and over-fish. Tautog fishing has been a bit slow of late. The water temperatures just aren’t where they should be. However, the fishing this week was more productive, in terms of consistency and size, than weeks past.

The Capt. Lou Fleet in Freeport, says anglers were recently pulling up two stripers at a time on umbrella rigs. The quantity of fish has been okay this week and there are more short fish in the mix now. The fishing was also a bit inconsistent throughout the week. However, they did manage to grind out a number of slot stripers on jigs. Some days were better than others. The tautog fishing on Sunday was good and the Capt. Lou Fleet will be fishing for tog again on Saturday, Nov. 14.

Jim and Charlie, at Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside, got out on the Miss Bev on Sunday, after stopping at Bay Park to grab a white and red tube umbrella rig. They trolled from Roundhouse to Pink Hotel, catching and releasing two-shorts. Charlie had one fish make the slot, at 33-inches. Dolphins, gannets, and great weather made for an enjoyable setting on the water.

Bill, at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale, says not much has changed since last week. The fall run of striped bass is still going very strong. The boat guys are doing very well in the ocean jigging and trolling. Plenty of slot fish and some really solid 40-inch fish. On the beaches, stripers are keyed in on sand eels and bunker. Diamond jigs and needlefish will work all day; then switch to a darter, swimmer, bucktail or shad after dark to stay on the bite. There are some smaller fish inside the inlet, and over by the bridge as well. Local tautog action is still very good and very consistent. Plenty of keepers are around, as well as some really big fish. Tog jigs have pulled some massive fish. Bottom fishing for black sea bass is still going well. 3-to-4-pound fish are common, and there are some monster 6-pound fish down there waiting.

Surfcasting Guide, Bernie Bass, says he had a great week in the surf, with huge numbers of stripers. The size of the bass has dropped a bit though, with fewer keepers. The stripers got smaller and smaller throughout the week. Bernie says, “the diaper stripers have arrived.”

Capt. Stu Paterson, at Northport Charters in Northport, says anglers have been picking away at tautog in Long Island Sound. However, they’re weeding through lots of shorts to get to the keepers of 5-pounds. There is still a ton of bait in the area with adult bunker all over Long Island Sound, even on the Connecticut side. It’s a mix of butterfish, bay anchovies, peanut bunker, and spearing. Furthermore, there was a nice shot of schoolie bass up to 26-inches, and lots of bird action off Eatons Neck. Stu has been jigging schoolies and bluefish to 8-pounds.

Garrett Lambert with a golden hour bass caught on Capt. Dave Flanagan's boat.
Garrett Lambert with a golden hour bass caught on Capt. Dave Flanagan’s boat.

Dave Flanagan, of North Island Fly, says striped bass fishing has been stupid good lately. No matter where you go, the fish seem to be there and are hungry. Dave has found them in the backs of harbors, mouths of channels, rips, deep water, and the surf. Some are pickier than others, but 30-fish days for fly anglers are not uncommon. His clients have been picking off some bass on spinning gear, but it’s been tough to beat a perfectly matched fly. Most of the fish he’s finding are feeding on bay anchovies that are 3/4-to-2-inches. The fish inside seem to be on peanut bunker. Dave has also been seeing fish on the flats lately. Luckily for Dave and his clients, he just added a 17-foot Maverick Master Angler to his arsenal. He intends to run sight fishing trips next season, in addition to his normal routine.

[Article: Fall Long Island Harbor Stripers]

Celtic Quest Fishing Fleet of Port Jefferson, says his clients absolutely hammered tautog out in Mattituck this week. Each trip produced a number of lunker tog to about 7-pounds, with the climax of the week occurring just after the weekend, with fish to about 10-pounds. They expect the tog fishing to become a bit tougher the next few days with the new moon tides, but the fish are there and they’re chewing.

Rick, at Harbor Marina in East Hampton, says schoolie bass are still bending rods from Shagwong to Montauk Point. Not many slots in the mix, but a lot of fun on the right days. Shots of these smaller fish are moving down the sandy beaches with an occasional bluefish or keeper bass in the mix. The nearshore tautog bite is tapering, with mostly shorts in close. Black sea bass and tog are prevalent off Block Island and the deeper structure near Fisher’s Island. The nearshore, offshore wrecks, and reefs are holding cod, sea bass, and tautog.

Surfcasting Guide, Bill Wetzel of Surf Rats Ball, says the small fish rats are in, but he doesn’t believe they’re indicative of the end of the season just yet. With all the bait still around, Bill says there are still some huge bass that have yet to pass through. He will be targeting them with some bigger lures.

Chris, at Double D Charters in Montauk, says striped bass fishing is still on fire. There are tons of fish on top, an optimal situation for light tackle anglers. Black sea bass fishing is going great, with bigger fish chewing regularly. Porgies are also still in the game. Tautog fishing is still fantastic, and the giant bluefin tuna bite is as good as it gets.

The Viking Fleet of Montauk, says the tautog fishing has been excellent the past week. There has also been a really solid bite of cod, porgies, and jumbo black sea bass. On Tuesday, they added a 12-pound bonito to the bag, caught by Keri Tyson from Maryland. 3-pound porgies were a common catch, and cod to 15-pounds were caught regularly at the beginning of the week.

Steven, at Wego Fishing Bait & Tackle in Southold, says tautog is without question the number one fishery right now. Four guys came in the other day, all of them carrying their limit of tog. The smallest fish they brought in was 5-pounds. John McCann Jr. got out with his Dad and Grandfather who served our country on Veterans Day. Junior ended up pulling in a 7-pound tog, after slamming some cow stripers on live eels. Even the shore-bound tog anglers are doing very well. That short stretch of beautiful weather kept them inside just a little bit longer. They do appear to be moving off the beach though. The boats out deep are crushing good fish. There are also some nice sea bass in local waters. There have been a ton of birds working along the Sound beaches with schools of bunker below them.

Kenny, at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor, says he received a report from Jim Shad, who was fishing Mecox Cut this weekend. On Saturday morning, he caught and released a 43-inch fish. The next day, he hooked into something that he never could have imagined. The fish started peeling line off of his Van Staal 275 reel. It ran for a whole minute, and Jim was unable to turn it. Unfortunately, the fish popped off. What a heartbreaker. Jim may have had a tuna on his line as I watched them breaching less than a cast out that same morning.  The Hamptons beaches have produced a bunch of slot size fish the past few evenings. Kenny says it’s winding down, and to get on it before it’s all very-short fish. Kenny says he emptied the eel tank, but he’ll be getting another shipment of green crabs for anglers who want to go togging.

Long Island Fishing Forecast

One cool thing I noticed this week is that the biomass of stripers seemed to be acting in the same manner out here as they currently are in the western reaches of Long Island. It seems like all the fish are moving at the exact same pace in different places. Josh at Gypsea Charters described the fish as coming through in waves of mixed sizes, after experiencing the first wave of big girls. It is playing out there exactly as it played out here on the east end; it’s just a week or two later.

If you’re in the western part of Long Island, you’re most likely going to be catching small fish in two weeks that we are seeing out east. You should be fishing every moment you can right now. You’ve got plenty of bigger bass over there right now, and we’re on the cusp of a new moon. By Thanksgiving, you’ll probably be catching mostly shorts, and you’ll be daydreaming about the multiple nights of drag-screaming bass you caught in the middle of this month.

I know the weather was insanely nice this week, and the schoolie bass were biting during the day, and some teen bass were biting in the night. Life felt pretty good despite the rising COVID-19 cases. However, the best part about this week, bar none, was the tuna I saw explode out of the water 100-yards from dry sand. Capt. Paul Dixon in Montauk hit me up at 6:30 on Sunday morning saying, “fish are marching down the beach with tuna and sharks blasting them.” I notified some friends and got down to the beach ASAP. I was watching the water for no more than five minutes when a tuna, which I estimated at 100-to-200 pounds, jumped clear out of the water, and made a huge splash. It was like a minivan had just been dropped in the water. Stephen Lobosco saw the same sight several times in East Hampton. Gannets were hammering the water from here to there. This experience, as well as all the other nearshore tuna breaches I witnessed this year, convinced me that tuna are going to be in the surf next year, and I’m gonna friggin catch one.

Bill Wetzel put out a statement saying the small fish are here, but he’s confident there will be more chances at big stripers before the season is over. His intuition is not to be taken for granted, so I’m going to be throwing some big plugs right through this new moon phase. I expect some big fish to be taken all over the island this weekend. Don’t forget about the back bays if you’re after big stripers. A crew of anglers did very well in the bays last fall.

I don’t think you can go wrong, if you just get out and go fishing. It appears the weather is beginning to break, and we’re going to be working with a lot of north winds this week. Maybe we’ll even get a bit of a freeze overnight. The crowds should dwindle once the saltwater starts to freeze on your hands and crack your fingers open. Stripers should move a bit quicker, and we’ll see the November schoolies take over completely. Soon we’ll be praying for a herring run. The hardest times of year are typically the best and there’s no pressure or crowds.

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