Happy Striper Opening Day!
Recent Menhaden fish-kills attributed to Vibriosis. Check the link that Bill Wetzel provided on the Surf Rats Ball.
Using lights to catch striped bass?! See Kathy’s report.
Early reports of weakfish!
Big bass chewing to the west. Steady holdover bite everywhere else, with a good number of slot stripers coming to hand.
Blackfish action heating up in the Sound and on the south shore.
Great cod fishing this week.
Potential for tuna.
Largemouth bass fishing is fantastic right now.
Trout are stocked, and biting up a storm.
Frank from Bernie’s Bait and Tackle in Brooklyn says the striper action is unfolding. Anglers are getting busier with bent rods. More fish are being caught in the general area, especially in the back of Jamaica Bay. They’re mostly schoolies, with a few exceptions. The numbers aren’t crazy, but the action is good.
There’s lots of bait in the back too. Bunker seems endless, and there’s a good mix of herring. Plenty of snacks for the stripers to nibble on. The herring are even keeping a few rods bent around the piers.
There have even been some reports of small bluefish in the area this week. Frank said “it appears they’ve sent in a few scouts to scope out the scene.”
Water temps and conditions are improving.
Stripers are all over from Red Hook to the Harbor. Guys are prepping their trolling gear, as that scene will be kicking off soon enough. Most guys don’t have their boats in the water yet though.
The blackfish scene has been quiet from shore, but the boats sailing to the wrecks are doing quite all right. The deepwater wrecks are where you’re going to find them now.
There’s a few guys going out for flounder. Frank says they’re waking up and coming out of the muddy areas. You can find them in the shallows (10 to 15 feet) on a warm, Sunny day. Once it starts, there’ll be 2 to 3 weeks of solid flounder fishing in the back. That’s when they’re all gathering, getting ready to make moves out of places like Gravesend Bay. Then the fluke show up.
Paul at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin says anglers are going hard on the trout right now. Every river, lake, pond and stream has been stocked. Some are going to be restocked. There are new rules regarding trout too: the DEC has opened almost all NY waters to 12 months of trout fishing. The Carman’s River is a notable exception.
Bluegills are biting real good, and the crappie fishing on the east end is off the wall right now.
Paul’s been seeing a lot of pictures from the west end saltwater. Guys and gals have been killing it up there. Stephanie and James took their fly rods up to the north shore and did very well on the west end. Stephanie had three fish on in the high 20-inch class.
Kathy from Freeport Bait & Tackle heard of a good bite of herring around Magnolia Pier. Other anglers have been fishing bay spots with clams and a strobe light on their rig to catch stripers. I was surprised to hear this, as I know stripers to be wary of lights. It makes sense, though, that they’d be curious about a small underwater light, and come in to investigate. Upon investigation they smell the clam a foot away and chow down. Cool stuff!
Some guys were catching blackfish in Jamaica Bay. There’s also been a great schoolie striper bite in that area. It’s a good sign the bigger fish will be here soon.
No word on flounder, but a few anglers have been coming in to buy gear. With flounder, no reports at all might just be a good sign.
A lot of trout have been stocked in the local lakes/ponds, and also upstate. Some of her customers are targeting the local ones successfully, and the upstate fishing is productive as well.
Kathy’s shop is chock full of tuna gear for this year’s run. Make sure you check out the stock before it gets bought up and the fishing’s hot!
Kathy says the bunker schools in her area are so thick you can walk on them.
The Capt Lou Fleet in Freeport had an awesome seal watching trip this week, with volunteers from the NY Marine Rescue Center tagging along to help educate everybody on board.
The fleet is open to hosting any kind of event. Check out their website if you’re looking to host something fun on the water.
Point Lookout’s Superhawk will be sailing every day it’s nice, and their cod/blackfish trips are only a hundred bucks! This coming Saturday and Wednesday’s trips are a bit pricier, targeting cod, pollock, ling and more.
Lindenhurst Bait & Tackle reports:
The stripers are really starting to stir. Schoolie size bass to 26 inches are being caught in the bay. Small soft plastics are accounting for most of the catches. Concentrate your time on the north side of the bay during an outgoing tide for your best chance at bending the rod.
Stop by the shop, pick up a few bags of plastic shads, some jigheads, and go hit your favorite spot. It’s time!
Captree’s Laura Lee headed offshore to target cod, ling, porgies and blackfish. They tallied up 25 cod, eleven blackfish, 55 dogfish, 15 cunner, and ten ocean pout.
Steve at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport says the water’s getting a bit warmer in the bays, but staying cooler in the Sound. Lots and lots of bunker are starting to show up, and that pretty much the main story this week. There’s a lot of other bait running too though. Mark was down at the water observing tons of big spearing beginning to school up, alongside the killies.
There haven’t been any striper bites really worthy of mention locally. One guy found some fish along the Kings Point bluffs this week. The best, most consistent action is going to be found to the west right now, in Jamaica Bay, Raritan Bay, and potentially even Lloyd Neck.
The winds are starting to shift, and after this new moon, the time is nigh for sleepless nights chasing stripes.
There’s not much action at the Triangle, but a few blackfish have been coming over the rail. Steve heard of some tog to 4-5 pounds.
Surfcasting guide Bernie Bass began poking around the back bays this week. He found some decent striper action, with a few okay fish in the mix. He took some seriously chunky fish on a white super strike darter.
Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:
Striper season is officially upon us; the bass are here, and they are hungry! Anglers willing to take the time and do the work are crushing solid bass in the surf and the back bays. Soft plastics and darters seem to be the lures of choice. Fly guys are using Clousers and other small baitfish imitations and doing very well. Bigger fish, in bigger numbers, are coming any day now.
Blackfish season is still going strong, with some larger fish starting to come over the rails. Flounder remain mostly elusive, but a few sharpies have them dialed in with blood worms and plenty of mussel chum.
In the freshwater, largemouth bass are out crushing lipless cranks and jigs like crazy, as well as swimbaits and Senkos.
Trout are most active in the early mornings and evenings, rising on dry flies and eating up nymphs. Mid day, you’ll want to entice a strike with a streamer. Lure-wise, they love inline spinners, small crankbaits, and spoons. Bait-wise, a juicy nightcrawler or some smelly PowerBait will do the trick especially on the stocked fish.
Jeff at Whitewater Outfitters in Hampton Bays says there’s a bunch of schoolie bass around, but hardly any migratory fish to speak of. One bass showed up in a bunker net last week, with sea lice all over it.
Jeff’s expecting weakfish around the end of the month. Not much word on that front so far.
A solid tuna bite occurred over the past few weeks. Jeff hasn’t heard from any guys heading out this past week, but he imagines they’re still out there.
Some nice largemouth bass are getting caught these days. Jeff’s seen more than a few 4-5 pounders being pulled in. They’re prespawn, so they’re on the feed.
Surf guide Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball fished the north fork this week, for not a tap and no signs of life. Word on the street is there’s a decent early bite in Montauk, and lots of dead bunker littering LI beaches.
Sal found some fish in the western LI Sound in a few nights’ span. Bass to thirty inches were willing to hit his mag darter once the current got moving.
Another angler reported catching two weakfish on the east end, one measuring in at 24 inches. He noticed a lot of bunker in the area.
Pete had luck with a loaded chicken scratch Cordell plug in the Raritan Bay. One thirty inch striper took the plug, and then three more took his swim shad once the tide turned. At least two of his fish measured to thirty inches.
Martin checked in from Connecticut, where he’s finding a good number of stripers that are mostly small. He had two or three that would’ve made the slot though. Soft plastics and bucktails did the most damage.
Bill mentioned that there have been lots of reports of dead bunker washing up all over the island. Thirty fish that were necropsied were discovered to have their organs saturated with a bacteria called Vibrio. Apparently this bacteria has been responsible for a number of bunker-specific fish kills since November. Read more here.
Chris Albronda gave me the rundown on Montauk. The gannet show has returned with a vengeance. Whales and dolphins are on the scene, and the bunker are as thick as he’s ever seen them. Still no striped bass to report, but their arrival is imminent, expected this week. Not too long after, we should see some gator blues.
Montauk’s Viking Fleet sailed a three day trip at the end of last week: a 38 hour tile/wreck trip. Captain Steven Jr. reported a slower-than-average trip with tough conditions. They caught fish everywhere, but it was hard to hold bottom. They caught golden tilefish, hake, pollock, a few barrel fish and one wreck fish.
Tilefish pool went to Steve Bar from Queens with a 32-pounder.
This weekend, Steven Jr. headed up the Nantucket trip and experienced good fishing on all of the wrecks. There was mostly cod, pollock and cunner in the mix. High hooks boated about 20 cod each, and most people had about eight.
They have some openings in April and May so check out their website and book a trip!
Tommy A. Took the cod pool with a 22 pounder. The edible was taken by Piotr Kuprel from Brooklyn, who caught an eight pound pollock.
Long Island Fishing Forecast
It might sound silly but the most exciting fishing I did this week was dry fly fishing for small carp. Granted, I was trying to catch a big one; but I spent three hours on this tiny pond, casting to carp that were slurping tiny flies off the surface. They were making quite a commotion. I tied on a size 16 Royal Wulff and kept hitting the spots where I’d see a fish rise. I had a few follows in that long session, but was mostly ignored if my timing and presentation weren’t perfect. The casts that produced occurred during the exact same scenario: I saw a fish in my periphery during my false casts; it slurped a fly during my back cast and my next forward motion was a soft cast right in front of its face; the fly slaps the surface, the fish slurps it up, and I’m on.
How stupidly hard and awesome…. I highly recommend it.
Freshwater bass really came alive at night this week. I was fishing a spot (that I apparently should not have been fishing) late one night, and had a few bucketmouths charge my wakebait fly. The first strike resulted in a hookup with a 4+ pounder. I heard a few more surface attacks before 10pm, and then the fish really turned on. Bass were popping all over the pond, in shallow and deep water. During those sweet moments, a pair of headlights pulled up behind my car, and I heard the police radio. I quickly got the boot from this bassy paradise I’d discovered. Oh well. The officer was understanding, and shooed me away with a warning.
I tried some other ponds with positive results, but nothing like the illegal spot. Perhaps I’ll find another honey hole for some crazy topwater bass action.
Fortunately, the stripers were doing the same exact thing as those hungry bigmouths. I had a few nights in a row, on and around the new moon, where the linesides were audibly on the chew. About 6 to 12 stripers came to hand on each of three nights. I had much less luck during the daylight. I started with the rapala x-rap, but a voracious fish quickly broke the lip off of it. The mag darter came out next, and the size of the fish increased. The cast-hookup ratio increased as well, and life was good. They’re all clean, beautiful resident fish, so I’m trying to take care of them, and make sure they decide “wow, this is a nice place to spend the winter!” So I’m using a single treble hook on the plug’s belly, making for a quick de-hooking and minimal handling. Fare thee well, striped friends.
I’m looking for some migrators to enter the scene this week. I’ve heard murmurs of stripers riddled with sea lice showing up slowly but surely. I’ve been hearing about a surprising number of slot stripers as well. That’s awesome, considering how used to small early arrivals I am. That’s a great reason to hit the suds early this year; you might just get a mean tug in the midst of all those shorties. They tend to show up without giving their position away; but if you put your lure in the right spot (and I’ve found almost any lure will work) right when they arrive, you’re going to be into some nonstop action.
Get out there and enjoy the grand opening! Harvest responsibly this striper season, and take good care of the fish you intend to release. I can sense our community growing more empathetic towards these fish.
‘Til next week… tight lines.