Tiderunner weakfish on the east end and schoolie stripers all over the island. Big ones to the west, tiny ones in the South Shore surf. Bays are the best bet for quality surf fishing. Early squid, giant spearing, plentiful bunker, and herring are all on the menu. Quality tog potential in certain areas. Giant porgies being caught offshore, and now they’re biting on the beach.
Long Island Fishing Report
Frank from Bernie’s Bait and Tackle in Brooklyn, says the picture hasn’t changed drastically. There are still lots of small stripers, mostly from the back of Jamaica Bay to NY Harbor. Bunker, clam, and artificials are keeping rods bent regularly. There is still a mix of herring and bunker in the general area. Guys are still targeting the herring from the piers. Flounder anglers are keeping their lips sealed, but it sounds like there’s decent potential for a bite if you’re willing to put in the work. Frank offered a tip to fish from beach channel drive to silver hole if you’re wade fishing. One or two guys reported decent catches of tautog offshore. Nothing doing for the shore-bound though.
Josh at Gypsea Charters in the Rockaways reports a great start to the striped bass season. Their first trip out resulted in nonstop action, with countless shorts, numerous over-slot stripers, and some slots that went home for dinner. The action was consistent, and the guys were able to capitalize on it for multiple days this week.
Paul at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin said the LI Fly Rodders had a solid session at the Connetquot this week. The fishing started off pretty tough, but once they figured out the key, it was game on. The key: constantly switching your fly selection. The afternoon session was more productive than the morning. The back bays are now loaded with bass. There is a good population of schoolie stripers near Paul. The better numbers are located in the western bays right now. Warm weather is on the horizon, and Paul expects the fishing to explode once we get some consistency. He even expects bluefish to show up in a week or so! Paul is seeing lots of dead bunker in his area as well.
Kathy from Freeport Bait & Tackle heard about a good tautog bite on the Hempstead Reef. The guys fishing the reefs are also reeling in some huge porgies as a welcome bycatch. Schoolie stripers are being caught from the piers, and in Jamaica Bay. A bunch of anglers are buying bloodworms to target the bass. The freshwater scene is hot, with Hempstead Lake having just been stocked. Anglers are keeping themselves occupied with these hungry fish while they wait for a denser influx of striped bass. Other good spots are Argyle Lake and and the Twin Lakes in Wantagh. Bunker have left the canal, but there’s lots of reports of dead, floating bunker around. Local baymen are finding some gigantic spearing. Kathy hasn’t seen them this large in a long time. After Sandy, the spearing were difficult to come by; Kathy thinks their nurseries were probably decimated by the storm. Their stock has improved slightly each year since, and the ones she’s seeing this year are extremely impressive.
Mike Flynn of “Sea Bull” got out last week to fish the Hempstead Reef. He dropped green crabs for tautog, and managed two keepers during a good bite. Jim Mooney of “Miss Bev” fished Hewlett Bay on Saturday. During the last of the incoming in Macy’s Channel, he caught three schoolie bass on a white bucktail tipped with a bloodworm. All fish were released. Lloyd Malsin of “Nansea II” had a great first outing of the season to target flounder. Of the twenty fish that came aboard, only one was short. They kept their six-man limit, and released a bunch of 18 inch fatties back to the ocean. Mussel chum and hooked worms brought the fish in and got them chewing. “No Time Charters” found some big bass on their first three trips of the year. They limited out, and released bass to 35+ pounds. One trip even produced some keeper tog.
Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:
Stripers are around in decent numbers right now, especially in the backbays and on the flats. Soft plastics, popping or walking plugs, and darters are the go-to lures right now. Fly anglers are using clousers and other small baitfish imitations to coax the bass. The schools of larger fish are en route to our waters. They’ll be here soon. Tautog season is still going strong, with some more big fish starting to come up from the rocks. Finesse presentations with light line and jigs seems to be doing the trick. As for the flounder, bloodworms and mussel chum are the keys to success. Find the mud, and chum it heavily. In the freshwater, the largemouth bass are aggressive. They are smashing up lipless cranks and jigs, as well as swimbaits and senkos. If you’re tossing flies, try a flashy baitfish imitation. Trout are still around in most of the stocked lakes. You can catch them with inline spinners, small crank baits, and flashy spoons. PowerBait or a worm on a split-shot rig, or under a bobber, will do the trick just as well. Fly guys are seeing hatches, well into the day and getting trout to rise for dries. A dry-hopper rig is always a good way to find fish. Midday, tie on a streamer with some flash to entice a reaction strike from a big, aggressive fish.
Captree’s Laura Lee found some productive fishing last weekend. They began on Saturday with 31 cod and 17 tautog.
By Monday the action had slowed. The crew reported five cod.
Point Lookout’s Superhawk is sailing wreck trips every day, targeting cod and tautog. It costs $95 to go fishing.
Steve at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport heard some reports of schoolies arriving. No reports of big fish just yet (locally), but these fish are providing some great action. Clams and soft plastics are the main tools of those who are catching. The temps inside the bay are becoming more tolerable, but the Sound waters are still chilly. You can find some tautog out in the Sound. Nobody’s reporting anything huge, but the reports are solid for fish to a couple of pounds. No porgies out there yet, but they should be arriving very soon. Guys have their ears to the ground. Flounder season is open, but they’re tough to come across. Most guys targeting them are heading to the south shore, and mostly coming up blank. The river has been productive, and there’s a ton of bait pouring in and out of it. The trout fishing is good. The other freshwater fish aren’t biting so well, as many anglers got out early and hammered them. Crabs are tough to come by, but the shop is loaded with clams, squid, spearing, live eels, and bloodworms.
Kenny at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor said the western Peconics are loaded with small bass. There have been some scattered reports from the ocean as well. Small migratory bass have moved in.
A couple boats ventured to Plum Gut to target tautog and didn’t lose a single piece of bait. They said there were more seals there than they’ve ever seen, numbering in the hundreds.
Some tiderunner weakfish arrived on the east end. Kenny saw pictures of a customer with fish from 8-12 pounds.
Jeff at Whitewater Outfitters in Hampton Bays says there’s been a number of schoolie bass getting caught. Jeff says they’re mostly holdovers, but some fish have been reported from the beach. We can only imagine those fish have freshly migrated into our waters. A couple weakfish were caught, which is an exciting prospect. Nothing size-wise, but pretty cool nonetheless. A couple fluke were caught as bycatch when guys were targeting weakfish this week. Another exciting bit of information! Just a couple more weeks until fluke season opens.
Dave Flanagan of “North Island Fly” says the schoolies have been moving in on the western half of the island, providing some solid action in the harbors. Head far west for some even better fishing.
This week, Dave’s friend Dan found some great tautog action in some deeper water, at thirty to fifty feet. Limits were achieved, with nothing smaller than 18 inches coming over the rail.
Craig at Wego Fishing Bait & Tackle in Southold says some guys are catching tautog now. There’s a decent class of fish locally, hanging out in the warmer waters. Crabs, clams, and sandworms have all proven effective. Holdover striped bass have been keeping anglers occupied, and Craig expects to see some migratory fish being caught in the next week or so. No word on the flounder front, but guys are starting to catch porgies, both from shore and boat. It’s a little cold for that species, but a good sign of things to come. There are some weakfish around, who are in the same boat as t porgies: not quite ready to chew yet. Squid showed up this week. Largemouth bass are starting to wake up, and they’re willing to hit soft plastics. Some anglers are traveling west to target trout, but Laurel Lake should receive a stocking in the next week. Craig just finished making some shark chum; they’ve got plenty ready for this summer’s season. The shop is also carrying plenty of local squid and spearing now.
Surf Guide Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball hit the Shinnecock area last weekend during non-human hours. He found mostly bunker, many of which were dying, on the ocean side. Back in the bays, the bunker abounded, and they seemed much healthier than the ocean stock. His one hit did not result in a hookup. On the 16th, Steve fished the central LI Sound through a low-water sunset. He had about a dozen bass to 26 inches on 3/4 ounce chartreuse bucktails. They were fresh migrators, covered in sea lice. Nate Bowditch fished the west end for a few days this week. The incoming tide would produce a handful of stripers to 24 inches during those midday sessions.
Surfcasting Guide Bernie Bass found some consistency this week fishing the parrot darter in dirty water. He had a good amount of bass, with some nicer ones in the mix. There’s a ton of bunker in the bays, and the water temps are rising.
Chris Albronda gave me the goods on Montauk:
The striped bass have arrived! Both tiny fish and keeper bass have been getting caught in the surf on both the north and south side. One angler got some clams from Paulie’s and chucked them from the town beach right there, had himself a ball. One of the pinhookers in town put together a few solid catches of tautog the days he was able to get out. Some porgies ended up hitting the deck on those trips. Some squid have arrived, almost two weeks ahead of time.
Long Island Fishing Forecast
If this week’s report didn’t get you psyched, check your pulse.
Tiderunner weaks, giant porgies, big stripers, early squid, and supersized spearing. To me it feels like a stage set for a wild show, and we’re on the first of many waves. I can’t help but feel extremely optimistic about the coming fishing. Not that my spirits are ever low, but I feel like they’re on the rise alongside the temperature and fishing quality. Make sure you find a little bit of time to get on the water. It’s therapeutic to taste that salt air, hear the birds and the noises of the trees and water, and go home with a fishy scent on your hands.
Some thoughts popped into my head while taking in all this week’s info:
1.Big porgies are biting. Perhaps we’ll have another insane, never-ending run of monster scup this year.
2.Bunker seem to be everywhere, most notably right in the surf. The tuna have been getting bolder and bolder every year, coming within casting distance of surf anglers. So much so, that I’m considering buying a heavy duty reel to handle one, should the opportunity arise. Who knows what else might make it into the surf zone. Every year it’s something new!
3.Weakfish! I’m practically foaming at the mouth. Every year I say I’m going to target them, and I just don’t. I’m more intrigued than ever by Kenny’s report though. I’ve heard some others whispering about giant weakfish lately too. The time is nigh.
I’ve been switching back and forth between stripers and bigmouths this week. The foot-long stripers are chewing in the surf, underneath the shad. Bigger fish are hiding out in the bays.
The largemouth action has been ridiculous. The smaller the pond, the hotter the action. I think all the sweetwater species might be getting jazzed up. I hooked two catfish on artificial lures while targeting largemouths. The brown bullheads went after a white soft plastic and a white roostertail spinner. The largemouths eventually went after anything; they were big and they were hungry. I had some real good fishing this past week.
This coming week, I’m going to refocus some of my striper efforts towards the weakfish and keep on top of the freshwater bass as well. Hopefully, I have some cool reports in those regards next week.
Whatever you’re after, I hope you get it. Fish responsibly, and thanks for reading. Tight lines.