The tautog bite heated up with the cold temps. Boats got into some productive bites of big black sea bass, porgies, and cod. The only wave of big stripers I heard of this week was the one intercepted by gill net haul seiners on the east end of Long Island. The quantity of stripers is not decreasing, but almost every new wave of fish is smaller than the last. Trout are stocked around the island, providing a great freshwater option.
Long Island Fishing Report
Frank, at Bernie’s Bait and Tackle in Brooklyn, says Jimmy and Ralph teamed up on Sunday morning to go bucktailing off the boat. Between the two of them, they caught 70 bass, with just two keepers. Plenty of other boats were out and getting in on the action. Some were trolling, others were chunking, and everybody was doing something different, but it was all working. Some guys even got into topwater bites. The best action occurred a short while after daybreak, in deeper water. There haven’t been many reports of huge fish this week, but the larger fish that were caught were most likely taken from deeper areas. One customer was fishing with eels near New York Harbor about a week ago, and between him and three other anglers, only one guy caught fish; they were two nice ones, but that pretty much summarizes the current situation. The fish are not intimidated by the weather, so they’re biting, but angling effort seems to be waning. There were even a few bluefish in the mix this week. There were also lots of dogfish and skates for those anglers utilizing bait. This action has been occurring from Far Rockaway all the way up to New York Harbor. The fish and the action are very well spread out. The tautog situation has not changed in the slightest. There are still tons of fish around, most of them shorts. Earl got onto a party boat this past week and nailed an 8-pound tog. That’s a great fish, but there were only two other keepers caught on the entire boat. That’s the theme of the season in the area.
Josh, at Gypsea Charters in Rockaway, says bass fishing remains “lights out” as new bodies of fish continue to move into the area. We have seen constant limits of slot-sized fish, with many overs being released to fight another day. An abundance of shorts are keeping rods bent all day long. Tautog fishing has been a bit of a grind, but talented anglers are cranking up limits. Some guys are only getting shorts, but Josh reckons the quickly dropping water temps are going to improve the fishing. The Gypsea Star heads out every weekend for tog by reservation only, while the 6-pack Gypsea is available for private charters targeting tautog or striped bass.
Paul, at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin, says he guided a first-timer at the Connetquot River this Tuesday, and brought four trout to the net. Another four fish were lost, and a couple of them were some real bruisers. The rainbow trout in there right now are pretty big. The water was a bit off-color due to the rain, but the fish were still biting. Paul says darker flies and streamers are his go to when it’s raining and the water is murky. A couple of the fish they landed ate ant flies off the surface. The ponds are stocked, and guys fishing Massapequa and the Twin ponds are doing well on the trout. There are fish to be had if you’re willing to brave the cold. In the salt, surf guys have been getting on lots of bass. The back bay fishing slowed down, but the ocean turned on. Guys trolling wire from boats are doing well. There are plenty of fish on and off the coast, but it is definitely slowing down. Get out there while it’s still going on. Tautog fishing has been good on the wrecks. Paul went on a party boat for the first time this year about a week ago. They went through buckets of crabs, and had a ball, but no keepers were caught. Regardless, bending the rod on 12-to-13 inch tog is some really good fun.
The Capt. Lou Fleet in Freeport, says they had a lot of action, including slot-sized bass on Saturday morning. The same can be said for Sunday, and the bluefish made an appearance as well. Cod and tog trips highlighted the latter half of the week. Capt. Lou says we’re fast approaching the “most wonderful time of the year,” which means trips filled with jumbo seabass, big porgies, cod, pollock, and hake. Nice mixed bags of big fish are beginning to comprise their catch.
Bill, at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale, says the cold is officially here and striper season is beginning to taper off, but that doesn’t mean that the fishing is bad or the bite is off. Bigger fish have moved into deeper water, and are continuing their migration. Lots of stripers, from schoolies to slots, are still roaming around the beaches. They are snatching up diamond jigs and needlefish all day long. At night, most anglers are switching to a darter or bottle plug. On the boat, you’ll have to go deeper but they are there to munch on your jigs. They’ve even been busting on top, making popping plugs a good choice. Tautog and black sea bass are the staple late-fall and early-winter fish, and they are both very active and hungry right now. Tautog can be found all over the local structure, both inside and out. Anglers are taking some good ones on jigs and shop rigs tipped with crabs. Solid fish are coming over the rails all day. Black sea bass action is going very well, with lots of big fish coming up. 4-to-6 pound fish are common right now, and the jig bite is hot.
Captree’s Laura Lee in Babylon, says they saw a good mix of stripers this week, starting with lots of schoolies over the weekend. Anglers caught fish to 41-pounds. Some bluefish showed up on Saturday, and their numbers grew greatly throughout the week. Fishing in general picked up as the week progressed, with an ever-increasing number of all species caught through Wednesday.
Mark, at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport, says the fishing has been slowing down throughout the week. There’s a wealth of micro bass around. Catch the tide right, and you could be bending the rod a bunch on them. For tautog, hop aboard a party boat and you’re probably going to hammer them. The fish are deeper now, and the boats are getting on them pretty good. There’s no bluefish around to Mark’s knowledge. Porgies moved out, and the black sea bass are out deep on the wrecks. Freshwater has been a good option since the ponds were stocked recently.
Jeff, at Whitewater Outfitters in Hampton Bays, says the tautog bite is still cooking on the north shore. Those fish have moved deep, so the boats targeting 60+ feet of water are doing well. Down here by the Shinnecock Reef, the bite has slowed. Jeff expects it to pick back up soon. Striper-wise, it’s mostly schoolies for the surf guys. A quick shot of larger bass swam through the area, but they were allegedly snatched up by the hundreds in the nets of the East Hampton haul seining crew.
Rick, at Harbor Marina in East Hampton, says as the fall fishing season is winding down, the corresponding weather windows are tightening as well. The good news here is that the surfcasting has been pretty good when the weather closed out boating opportunities. Surf rats are getting schoolies along the East Hampton sand beaches, and it can turn into some very fun action when the bite gets going. Tautog remains strong in the deeper sections of the eastern Sound, Fishers and Block Island. Black sea bass fishing is great if you can make the run to nearshore/offshore reefs, wrecks, and ledges. Jumping on a headboat or 6-pack charter is a great option at this time of year; it’s best to leave it up to the boating pros to keep things safe.
The Viking Fleet of Montauk, says they fought the poor conditions this week and were rewarded for their efforts. Porgies and Seabass began the weekend, and black seabass and cod helped close it out. Some caught their limits, and some very good fish. They had 15 keeper cod and Capt. Derek pulled up a 10.1-pound tog. Amanda Cash pulled an 8.5-pound tautog over the rails on Saturday. Quality tautog, black sea bass, cod, and porgies were coming over the rails on Sunday. Fast forward to Wednesday, and the quality fishing continues. Donald Thomas of Brooklyn nailed a 9.4-pound tog to take the pool, and Stever Bar of Queens won the black sea bass pool with a 4.5-pound knothead. Koon Yung Au landed himself a 2.5-pound porgy. Limits of porgies and sea bass were attained, and some cod sweetened up the bag before the day was over.
Surfcasting Guide, Bill Wetzel of Surf Rats Ball, says he began the week guiding Paul around Montauk for not a tap. The next night, they headed to Brookhaven and bailed bass in the surf. They picked fish to 16-pounds on SP Minnows. Bill says the fish were clearly feeding on sand eels, and were very particular about what lures they’d hit. A bigger fish was lost when they hit some deeper water. Bill had a late-night charter this Tuesday and some more cold northwest winds. Mike K and Bill waded deep on the south side and managed to pick a few schoolies each on Bill’s Scabelly Slider and Mike’s Super Strike needlefish. The idea was to fish for the stripers that would be feeding on bigger baits like shad. Bill’s certain there are big fish around.
Surfcasting Guide, Bernie Bass, says he had a great week on the beaches, picking a lot of small fish and a few decent ones. He threw S&S Bucktails with Fat Cow Jig Strips to keep the rod bent all week.
Steven, at Wego Fishing Bait & Tackle in Southold, says it got real quiet up there this week because of the cold weather. Most guys have their boats out of the water. Those who boarded charters got a pick of nice fish though. Tautog and black sea bass are the main targets, and some nice tog were taken in the past few days. Vincent Clapps won the pool on a boat yesterday with a tog just over ten. Tommy Sheeran weighed a tautog a few days back that went 10.5-pounds on the dot. It can get brutally cold out there when the north wind blows, but the guys braving the weather are making it worthwhile.
Kenny, at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor, says the season seems to be winding down, with the fish becoming smaller and sparser. Guys are still catching stripers off the open beach, and the commercial guys are even getting good amounts of large bass, but the angling effort is dwindling as the temps drop. This week was the slowest week at the shop since April, another sign of the season’s end. On the tautog front, there is still a small effort, but nothing to write home about.
Long Island Fishing Forecast
I got out and caught a bunch of micro bass on Thursday morning. I am not accustomed to the micro bass this early in the fall run. They usually show up in December. This week four years ago, I was catching 15+ pound bluefish, and there were 20-to-30 pound stripers in the mix for a few fortunate anglers. The big bass should be here though. There are still tuna jumping within casting distance of shore. We’ve got some warm weather coming up this week. Those colder days were brutal compared to most of the rest of the fall. The fish kept biting though, and they will continue to do so, especially with what may be our last stretch of warm weather days. It will likely be mostly cold from here on out, with a few warm, even hot days sprinkled in.