Long Island New York Fishing Report – March 18, 2021

West Marine

Fishing Report for Long Island

Return of winter flounder?

Cod bite is hot as of late.

Connetquot River is productive, even in frigid weather. Trout have been chewing quite well in other waters also. Some stockings might have already occurred, and others are poised to occur soon.

Holdover stripers are coming back to life.

Freshwater bite has been awesome on some days, and awfully slow on others. Target bass, pickerel, crappie, and carp.

Alewives and ospreys are back in town. Bunker is in the western back bay.

Paul at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin says the trout were biting up a storm at the Connetquot River this week. Icy guides and frozen toes couldn’t stop the LI Fly Rodders’ from fooling fish on Monday and Tuesday. Each angler had about five or six fish, and some guys scored even more. Rainbows and brookies were abundant. Paul also spooked a few fish that were of particular interest: 3 to 4 inch trout that seem to have been spawned into this watershed. Paul reckons there’s not a lot of this spawning activity occurring, because the odds of a redd surviving all that foot traffic are slim. Upstream, though, they’d have a fighting chance. Pretty cool!

Connecticut stocked their rivers, and Paul’s excited to begin planning some trout trips for this year. Back home on the island, Paul believes our rivers and lakes are set for stocking in the next week or so.

There are bunker in the back bays, with no word on the bass front. There’s bass in Jersey, though, so it won’t be long until we’re in the thick of it.

Brian Phelps with a fly-caught carp.

Captree’s Laura Lee has been finding a lot of life on the water these days. Whales and seals make for favorable sights as various species keep the rods bent. The cod bite has been pretty hot, with good numbers coming from most trips. One lucky angler had a 24-pounder Wednesday, no doubt thanks to St. Pat.

Cunner, sea bass, ling, ocean pout and dogfish are about all you can really expect otherwise. A few pollock have come over the rails also.

The seal watching trips tend to be productive, and there seems to be a good chance you’ll run into some whales while you’re out there.

Point Lookout’s Superhawk had a productive past few trips, with catches of cod, ling, porgies, and pollock. The weather forecast for this Sunday and Monday looks great, so they anticipate sailing to the wrecks for cod, ling, and more. Next Thursday, March 25, they’ll be sailing to deep water wrecks (200-400 feet). The trip is limited to the first twenty passengers to make reservations. Call Capt. Steve today: 516-607-3004.

Jimmy O’Brien caught this 5.3-pound largemouth on a jerkbait

Long Island Fishing Forecast
Reports of Alewives have pleased my ears for a few weeks now, although I haven’t seen any. This word comes from the bay-bound net fishery. I have seen some giant American eels over the same time span being preyed upon by great blue herons and sea gulls, who are able to pluck the snakes from the shallows. These eels have migrated from the gin clear waters of their spawning grounds in the Sargasso Sea.

Two North Atlantic Right Whales were spotted just off East Hampton’s beaches. Chris Paparo, aka “Fish Guy Photos,” chronicled the event and reported it to NOAA. These whales are two of about 300 to 450 of their species left in the entire ocean, as the slow-to-recover species was nearly decimated by whaling. Boat carefully, as most of their mortality today is a direct result of fast-moving boats and fishing gear entanglement.

That note on “overharvesting” brings us to the most important part of this week’s report. Striped Bass have been overharvested for ten years, and the ASMFC is holding public hearings to allow fishermen to voice their concerns about proposed future management. The public comment period on the Striped Bass PID released by ASMFC is under way. Some states have already convened. The New York meeting occurs this coming Tuesday, on March 23.  I recommend you listen to the American Saltwater Guides Association’s two podcasts regarding these PID hearings, before attending. It’s one hour and twenty minutes worth of good information that will empower you to speak knowledgeably on behalf of this fishery we love. If you want an abundant striped bass fishery in the future, you must speak up on behalf of these fish. There are too many stakeholders on the “harvester” side of the aisle, who are lobbying for less fish in the sea tomorrow, as that translates to more money in their pockets today. We do not currently have the fishery to support that kind of brash behavior. Speak up now; otherwise you have no grounds to complain in the future when the striper goes the way of the North Atlantic Right Whale. Again, New York anglers, be present on March 23. 

Striper Fishermen, Time to Speak Up

Chaz with a brown trout taken around the North Shore.

If you want to bend the rod this week, you probably won’t have to travel very far. Both big and small freshwater bodies have been giving up some quality fish. I’ve been laying a smackdown on quality bass and crappie for weeks now, my biggest bass being about 4.5 pounds. Other guys have been catching some local bass of the same ilk, like Jimmy O’Brien. He stuck a 5.3 pounder earlier this week on the east end, using a jerkbait. 

My method on the cold freshwater is the ol’ jig and bobber. I do a lot of popping, and a lot of waiting, and usually a lot of catching. It’s hard for those lethargic lunkers to say no to such an easy meal. It’s usually some type of marabou jig I’m using; the bigger and more wiggly my bait, the bigger the fish I tend to catch. A few bluegill and a few dozen crappie have recently come to my net as bycatch with this method.

You could also get some carp to chew by throwing them something smelly. I’ve done well with them (as bycatch) while employing shrimp for perch fishing. Also, you’ll hardly ever go wrong if you put some corn or bread on your hook for carp. My go-to carp flies are squirmy wormies and wooly buggers, although nymphing produces its fair share of commons.

I heard a chorus of slurps the other night as I targeted holdover stripers. I hooked three, beached one, and enjoyed listening to all the rest on the new moon night. They fed far from where I stood, so I used medium tackle and threw a long-casting Rapala x-rap to entice the stripes. I haven’t sensed a bit of life there since that night.

I also tried out a new backbay spot this week looking for perch and came upon the last thing I expected to find: a winter flounder! I had been taking a mean skunk, so I broke loose a small mussel from the bank and tipped my small jig with the meat. I let it sit still on the bottom, and before long my rod was bent over with a mean-fighting fish I could not identify. When it hit the bank, my mind was blown. It was about 2 to 3 pounds, covered in worms, and its tall, crablike eyes stared back at me as it bolted away. This winter flounder was a total “fluke,” but exciting nonetheless! I am excited to keep track of how well this fishery produces this year, and further along in the future.

Last but not least is the trout, and from the amount of pictures I’ve seen of recent catches, I feel like a stocking has already occurred. I caught two brown trout up on the North Shore the other day, and my buddy Chaz had a brown as well. Some areas received a March stocking, and there will be more come April. Paul McCain said they usually do it ASAP, like on the first of the month. So keep your eyes peeled for the stocking trucks… and keep your lines tight! ‘Til next week.

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2 on “Long Island New York Fishing Report – March 18, 2021

  1. SJS

    ASMFC? What do they manage? Go to their website and look at their data on Bluefish, Bass, Weakfish, Winter Flounder. They boast of 75 years of management. Most of the listed species they have been managing are nearing extinction. As effective as the DEC, who in my 50 years of extensive fishing on Long Island in both fresh and salt water I’ve run across twice. Talk about no show jobs.
    Our ocean, and all about it we love, is in the eleventh hour. Hopefully we get serious before midnight.

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