Big weakfish being found along the south shore, north fork and east end. Full moon produced some bigger stripers. Schoolie bass are everywhere. 26 inch fish are the main game. Cow sea robins move in.
Long Island Fishing Report
Frank, from Bernie’s Bait and Tackle in Brooklyn, says the scene is the same as last week. Stripers are spread out all over from Red Hook to Jamaica Bay. There’s no major concentrations of them, but you can get some just about wherever you go. There’s a ton of bait around, namely bunker and herring. So much so, that it’s tough to get the fish to bite on anything artificial some days. Guys who have their boats in the water are running west to the Raritan Bay, fishing between Jersey and Staten Island. Ralph from the shop went out flounder fishing and limited out on his two keepers. Supposedly there’s some good activity in the back of the bay. Outgoing tides seem to be the better choice, in 12-15 feet of water. For the stripers, Frank suggests using bait over lures. I asked “clam or bunker?” He said “clams when there’s bluefish around, as that’s not on the top of their list. Bunker when there’s no bluefish around.”
Josh, at Gypsea Charters in the Rockaways, says striper fishing continues to produce catches of all sizes. Overs, slots, and shorts are coming up all day. Most days produce consistently, which is great, but boat traffic has become a bit of a problem. Bass fishing should continue to remain strong for the next month and a half. Fluking will commence on May 4, which is this coming Tuesday. The Star will be sailing for fluke every weekend after, by reservation only.
Paul, at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin, hit the suds on Monday during some brutal conditions. A bunch of guys from the shop tagged along, only to get whomped by the weather and skunked by the fish. Then just yesterday, Gordon hit that same spot and ended up doing pretty darn well! Paul got out yesterday also, and put a couple bass on the bank after they demolished his topwater fly. One customer came into the shop after having caught a giant 12-inch bluegill. Apparently, the panfish action is heating up tremendously. They haven’t been hitting topwater yet, but the customer picked his on nymphs.
Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside reports:
Jim Mooney Jr. and Tommy D of the “Miss Bev” tried the ER inlet between AB bridge and ocean. They ate a skunk there, but weren’t deterred. They made their way to Hewlett Bay and scored five shorts, the largest measuring 23 inches. They used small spearing as if they were lures, slow trolling them along the dock lines. Heavy winds at 20+ mph, and the dead low tide didn’t make it easy on them.
Point Lookout’s Superhawk couldn’t be more excited for fluke season. They’re geared up and ready to rock on Tuesday. Wreck trips will still be occurring a couple days a week at 6am. Call Capt. Steve to make a reservation: 516-607-3004. Trips this week treated anglers to awesome weather and solid fishing. Catches consisted of nice size ling, blackfish, a couple of cod and more.
Captree’s Laura Lee put some fish on the boat this past Sunday: three cod, and three tautog
Trips for night stripers and blues start Friday, April 30 (6 pm and 11 pm), and 1/2 day fluke trips start Tuesday, May 4.
Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:
The bass bite is getting better by the day, and some bigger fish have started to move towards us. Back bays are on fire with consistent bass, and some decent ones in the slot have been caught. Popping plugs, shallow divers, and soft plastics are putting in work for the spin guys. Fly guys are having great luck on Bob’s Bangers, Deceivers, and Clouser Minnows. Boat guys are crushing solid fish in the flats and channels. They’re taking shallow divers, swim shads, and bucktails. The local docks are lit up with schoolies, eating up clams and bunker chunks. If you’re fishing bait, make sure you’re using circle hooks!
Weakfish have started to show up too, as bycatch for the guys targeting stripers. It looks like another solid season is in the works. Tautog season closed with a bang, with some solid fish coming over the rails consistently. The fall season should be a banger. The few guys hitting flounder are doing well with solid, fat fish. Blood worms and chum is key!
In the freshwater, the largemouth bass are charged up and looking for an excuse to smash your lure. They are crushing lipless cranks and jigs, as well as swimbaits and senkos. If you’re using flies, flashy baitfish imitations like the Sparkle Minnow or Laser Legal are getting hit hard. The stocked lakes are still loaded with trout, and the stocking hasn’t stopped yet! The DEC stocked some really solid two-year-old brown trout this season. You can catch the trout with inline spinners, small crankbaits, and flashy spoons. PowerBait or a worm, on either a split shot rig or a bobber rig, will do the trick as well. Fly guys are getting trout to rise and take dries now that hatches are starting to occur. Streamers with some flash will usually get a reaction strike from an aggressive fish, or one that doesn’t want to take a dry or nymph.
Steve at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport, says that there was nothing too crazy going on with tautog this spring, but guys were able to pick some smaller fish this week. Other fisheries have been showing much more promise. Porgies have been showing up, although they’re not quite ready to bite. Schoolies have been pouring in as well. A couple of guys in Kings Park and Sunken Meadow picked a few slot fish. The bait situation is pretty awesome; Steve has been watching the water come alive these past few weeks. Bunker are in the back bay now, doing the whole “swimming in circles and dying” thing that we’re all seeing. The water is crystal clear. Spearing are starting to run, and microorganisms like copepods are making their way to the surface. Bluefish should show up in the back bay soon, and so should the sea robins. Guys are scouting for fluke, and the shop is loaded up with all the gear you’ll need. The water in the Sound is still a bit cold, but warming up.
Captain Stu Paterson of “Northport Charters” is projecting a great season ahead. He’ll be starting to target fluke around May 4th, so look out for reports next week. Stu’s been surf fishing the north shore beaches in the meantime, catching schoolies up to 27 inches.
Celtic Quest Fishing Fleet of Port Jefferson just made moves to Jamesport, and the porgies were already there waiting for them. Clam down, scup up! Their first trip is this Saturday, and it is sold out. Should be a good season ahead!
Chris at Wego Fishing Bait & Tackle in Southold says there’s a ton of bait around, and the porgies have arrived. They’re not biting too much yet; Chris says we’re just waiting for the sun to shine, which should kick everything into gear. A few weakfish have been taken from the pound traps, but, same as the porgies, they’re not quite ready to bite yet. There’s some schoolies in the local bays, and out by Jessups.
Surfcasting Guide Bernie Bass had a rollercoaster week on the bass front. Consistent effort paid off, resulting in some consistent bites. Nothing big this week, but he found some fat, hungry fish. He anticipates the coming week to be very productive, as the water temps are rising and there’s plenty of bait in the water.
Jeff at Whitewater Outfitters in Hampton Bays says the schoolies have invaded, and they are hungry. It’s mostly fish to 27 inches, fresh out the ocean and harboring sea lice. Weakfish are around too; guys are getting fish to five pounds. A fun bycatch while targeting weakfish are the small fluke which are hanging alongside them on the bottom.
Surf Guide Bill Wetzel of Surf Rats Ball has been fishing the western haunts lately, finding some schoolie bass on an array of plugs; poppers, sp minnows, and darters did most of the damage. More prevalent than the stripers are the dead and dying bunker that he’s seeing in almost every spot he fishes. Scary. Steven found some bass in the west LI Sound area hanging underneath the bunker. He and his friend had a slow pick of six fish on the outgoing. The bass seemed to move out with the bunker. The next night he experienced pretty much the same thing. Bass were harassing the bunker schools, and he was able to pull four from the action using darters and a 12-inch sluggo. The next day he picked a number of fish on a super strike popper. He had been trying a pencil popper, which produced a few boils, but no commitment. The fish were keyed in on the slower retrieve, eliciting one or two big POPs every ten cranks or so once he switched to the SS. Doug got out on Staten Island this Tuesday night, and had a steady pick of bass from 9:30 to midnight during the outgoing. Everybody there was hooking up; white bucktails and swim shads were the most productive lures. John W fished the incoming in the western Sound between 8 and 11 pm. A blurple Daiwa SP Minnow picked one fish before the current picked up. John switched to a yellow SS darter and picked four keepers from 28-32 inches before the tide slacked out. The next night he attempted to reproduce those results, to no avail. The water had turned to chocolate milk. From what he could see, nobody else was pulling fish either.
Chris Albronda gave me the goods on Montauk:
The stripers have arrived in the surf, on both the north and south sides. Shorts and slots have been getting caught regularly on lures and bait. Clams have been particularly effective.Cod fishing was decent this week, with a mix of tog to boot. The first catch of porgies were also reported, just yesterday in the bay. The gannet show is hit-or-miss at this point. One day they’re here, the next they’re not. Whales and dolphins have been swimming by all week.
Tanya at Westlake Marina in Montauk says it’s been a bit quiet out there, as there’s not many boats in the water. Chris from the shop got out to do some togging this Tuesday, and picked up a 6.5-pound blackfish. The “Weejack” got out yesterday, and they managed a three-pound flounder. Tanya believes they were fishing near Block. A surfcaster stopped in too; he’d been catching a number of schoolie bass from the beach. The fish were all about 20 inches.
Long Island Fishing Forecast
I was driving home on Monday from a dirty day of work, when a fishy feeling overtook me. I was listening to some Tom Waits to channel my inner weird, hoping that might translate into my fishing and put me on a weakfish. Desperate times. One spot, in particular, was calling to me. High slack, sunset, and a full moonrise would coincide there tonight: the trifecta. I was going to catch a big weakfish.
Turns out I wouldn’t, and I’d need to do a little more than listening to some weird (but awesome) music to catch a unicorn. But the fishy feeling I had was no fake.
I pulled up to an empty lot, which was weird in itself; it’s been like Black Friday there every night. The fishing has been great though, so that’s how it goes. People just have to be sneakier with their photos and stuff; if you fish with people, they know where you fish, and they’ll talk. It’s the worst kind of dominos.
Anyway, I rolled up to my perch and began casting. I was catching dink after dink in a structure-based rip, when I noticed the surface of the water. A silvery slick was pouring in. I thought that might be warm water. It could’ve been the opposite, but regardless, there was an obvious temperature change there. I began wading in that direction, and the closer I got, the bigger the fish got. Eventually I was hooking into near-keepers every other cast. I started with the rubber shad, and then switched to my experiment, the Mag Darter with one single inline hook. I missed a bunch of hits with that, as was expected. I figured those were smaller fish, and a bigger one would inhale the plug; no way the single hook would miss a quality fish.
I was half correct, once again. A nice fish inhaled my plug and began peeling drag. I figured my single inline hook was set well, so I had this fish locked in. My only concern now was making sure my line didn’t break. I played the fish carefully throughout some breathtaking runs and jumps, eventually bringing it to the shallow water at my feet. I couldn’t see the lure, as the fish had inhaled the plug entirely. I got nervous about a potential gill hooking. I beached the fish, grabbed its lip with an iron grip, and put it right back into the water immediately to investigate.
The plug hook was hidden in the gills, and I thought aloud in expletives. Then I realized the rear hanger was stuck just behind the fish’s lip; the nose of my plug was stuck in the back of the fish’s mouth. I fingered the hook, and it swung freely between the gill rakers, blood-free! The plug was completely lodged in the fish’s mouth!
As soon as I popped the rear flag out from behind its lip, the fish shook its head and spit the plug from its mouth (at an alarming speed). I maintained my iron grip to show the fish that i was in charge, and it wouldn’t be leaving until it convinced me it was okay. Its constant pressure on my thumb knuckle and the calm flaring of its gills did just that. I felt like the fish knew I didn’t want to hurt it. I pushed its head forward, grabbed the tail and it exploded from my grip, returning quickly to the deep.
There’s a fish story for you, and now I’ve got another short one with an important tip.
I pulled up to a different spot this weekend, and there were two guys in the prime spot of the outflow. I walked out and took one cast with the mag darter, and didn’t get a hit. This was the kind of situation where I expected to roll in and have a hit within like ten casts. After my first cast, the two other guys decided to leave. They were friendly, and told me they hadn’t had any fish; no signs of them either.
That didn’t hinder my confidence. I fished my favorite looking spot there, and was able to put a few fish on the beach within minutes of their leaving.
I was utilizing a technique I’m sure they didn’t know about, and maybe you haven’t heard of it either. Unless you fly fish, it might be a foreign concept.
The concept is called “swinging.” Not the freaky-deaky type that your estranged uncle Rico dabbles with, but “swinging the fly,” or in a non-fly guy’s case “swinging the lure.”
It is when you don’t retrieve the lure, and let the current impart action on your lure.
It takes a significant amount of patience to get down, and the fish typically won’t hit until the last second, after you would have wanted to sprint it in and re-cast.
Your lure is presented as a victim of the current, rather than a swimmer in it. Your lure is therefore an easy target, which is the only kind fish want some nights. They’re not always going to hit something that swims over their head; it has to swim correctly over their heads.
Cast out, collect your slack, and let your lure float with the current. As it moves down current, the lure returns to the bank on a slow arc. I think fish see it moving like that, and follow it. Once it gets to the pivotal moment (the beach lip), the fish has to hit it, or lose its meal.
I guarantee this tactic will turn a skunk into a productive night in your future.
Everyone’s anticipating a good week ahead.
Huge bluefish are in New Jersey, and they’ll be here soon enough. Big weaks are around, and everyone’s finding them but me. So that’s what I’m after. I wouldn’t mind hooking some porgies as well.
Fluke starts Tuesday, and everyone’s amped and optimistic about that.
Look forward to some really fun reports next week.