Montauk Classic Surfcasting Tournament concludes without a single striper entered. Giant tuna bite continues. Summer fish are staging to leave. Mullet are running the beach lip. Commercial tog fishermen are finding lots of good fish prior to the recreational season’s opening. Slot and over-slot stripers are hiding in the bays. Good porgy and sea bass fishing on the north shore. Bunker schools remain, as do sharks, dolphins, whales, rays, and more.
Long Island Fishing Report
Frank from Bernie’s Bait and Tackle in Brooklyn reports:
Rumors of an 800-pound tuna have been circulating recently. Guys have still been getting out to target those giant bluefin not far from shore. Even inexperienced folks with sufficient tackle are getting on the meat. There have been lots of hookups, and lots of fish in the 200-400 pound range taken. The 800 pounder is next level though. The bite’s been occurring from Rockaway to Ambrose, and providing good numbers of very large fish. Fluking has been tedious to this point, but Bruce Colleran brought in a doormat for weighing yesterday. His fish went 11 pounds and 12 ounces. Porgies are still plentiful, but beginning to make moves out. If you go on a boat, you’re probably going to be able to catch a lot of them. The shore guys are the ones suffering as the temps drop. Once the shore water cools first, these fish will begin to move to deeper water. Frank says the shore guys hitting the deepest water will probably stay on the scup the longest. For boats, once the fish leave one spot, they just need to check the next deep spot to find another group congregating. Shore guys can expect 2-6 fish a day right now. An exceptional day might provide 25 fish. Boat guys can expect to be catching those “exceptional” numbers. Bluefish are popping up more and more frequently by Breezy and in Jamaica Bay. The fish are mostly cocktails, and there aren’t any reports of big ones just yet. Stripers are biting at night, from dusk til dawn. As water temps cool, we’ll begin to see bigger fish and more daytime action. Mullet have been in thick, and guys are catching them for bait. They should provoke many species to stick around, like the kingfish that have been getting caught as of late. Commercial guys have been doing great on the blackfish grounds lately. Shore appearances are very slight right now, but it’s shaping up to be a great tog season. Snappers and crabs are still around in pretty good numbers, but they’re beginning to show signs that they’ll quit chewing soon, due to the colder water.
Rockfish Charters in Brooklyn found another big bluefin this week, measuring at 70 inches. Melissa and Paul went on the trip, hoping to release a giant; instead they got to bring this legal fish home. They found it cruising about 12 miles offshore.
Josh at Gypsea Charters in the Rockaways reports:
Striper fishing was excellent this week, with boat limits on all trips. Some anglers landed 6 to 8 fish per trip. They were mostly slot-sized fish, with a bunch of fish being released. This kind of fishing can be tough this time of year, as tides and currents play a huge role in whether the fish will bite. Those who remain at the rail all day are the ones being rewarded. We have openings this Sunday aboard the Star from 5 am to 1 pm for $120. Text or call 516-659-3814 to book your spot.
Paul at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin reports:
The women’s expo at Connetquot this Saturday went extremely well with 45 women participating and all of them catching. Paul guided the event, which the DEC hosted. On Monday Paul got on the boat and found some epic bluefish blitzes in the inlet. The fish were all about 3-4 pounds and were absolutely tearing apart the tightly bunched bait balls. Truman’s beach was the next stop this week, and it was a shop trip on Tuesday. The weather conditions could not have been worse. Paul bailed on the beachfront with two other guys and tried out a nearby outflow on the bayside. The three fly anglers had about thirty bass between them over the next hour; the fish were all in the mid-teens (inches) and put a fun bend in the rod. Don’t forget about the fly fishing event “Castoberfest,” coming up this Sunday, October 3 at Montauk Lake Club.
Boats are still getting in on the nearshore bluefin tuna bite off the Rockaways. The “Orion” weighed in a 190 pounder caught in 60 feet of water, and the “Joey D” weighed in a big one on 9/25.
The Capt. Lou Fleet in Freeport reports:
Our first full-day ocean bottom fishing trip was fantastic yesterday, with loads of sea bass, porgies, and a few triggerfish. Trips moving forward will be full-day from Monday-Friday, and two half-day trips daily on the weekend. Book your trip at www.captloufleet.com.
Super Hawk Fishing out of Point Lookout is catching a fun fall mix consisting of sea bass, porgies, cod, false albacore, triggerfish, and bonito. Most of those fish are of pretty good size for their species, making it a good way to get some good meat to last you a couple of weeks. Call Capt. Steve to make a reservation: 516-607-3004.
Captree’s Laura Lee is finding lots of fish that seem geared up to leave our local waters. Yesterday morning’s local trip produced 94 fluke to 5.5 pounds, 63 sea bass, 4 weakfish, 2 bluefish, 1 striper, 6 blowfish, 1 kingfish, 11 sea robins, and 1 porgy. The full-day trip had 24 anglers who caught 384 big sea bass, 324 big porgies, 1 tuna, 1 mahi, 4 flounder, 2 fluke and 12 mackerel. A bunch of lizardfish were caught this week, plus more weakfish and bigger fluke. The biggest fluke from two days ago was 7.5 pounds, and 9 other fluke weighed over 6 pounds. Lots of other fish mixed up the catch, such as cod, blackfish, cunner, and a cownose ray.
Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:
Fluke season is officially closed, and it ended with a bang! Lots of large fluke were caught all week long as they headed out of the bay into the ocean. Many anglers got lucky with fish over 6 pounds. Weakfish are still roaming all over the bay, in good numbers and sizes. Weaks in the 5-8 pound range are getting caught often. Fish light gear with bright colored soft plastics and bucktails for the best results. They love early morning tides. Sea Bass action on the wrecks has been incredible. Full coolers and monster fish, 4-6 pound fish are coming up over the rails every day. They love clams on our shop chicken rigs, bucktails and diamond jigs too. Stripers are starting to get caught here and there, and the fall run is looking to be another great one. We have lots of bait in our local waters and our neighbors in NJ and CT are catching some good ones right now. We just have to wait for our turn! A few anglers have gotten lucky already with fish up to slot size on the beach and on the boat. Mullet and peanut bunker have been getting smashed up, so match the hatch with your lures and flies. The sand eel savagery will be here any day now. In the freshwater, fish for largemouth shallow, then head to the deeper water. Work the flats and channel structure. Timber, overhangs, stumps, and channel drops are great spots for big bass to hide out in. Lure-wise, finesse worms, jigs, crankbaits, and some topwater lures are your bet bets for this time of year. The topwater lures will be effective all morning and even later into the day than usual. Pickerel will go for the same lures the bass eat, as well as swimbaits and inline spinners. Yellow perch and sunfish will be schooled up and plentiful, and they are a blast on ultralight tackle. Trout magnets, inline spinners, and the classic worm and bobber technique will have you smiling all day long.
Dave Flanagan of “North Island Fly” put Nick Giordano of Haskell’s B&T on his first albie ever on the fly this week. The local albie action has been slow otherwise, but Dave’s been keeping busy with some nicer blues and bass in the shallow rocky areas when he can get out. Wind and weather have been a force to deal with lately though. Apparently, the albies have been in pretty good in the eastern Sound. Check out Dave’s website to book him for a charter now at www.northislandfly.com.
Mark at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport reports:
We’re looking towards the wind to help kickstart some serious fishing this week. A few nights in the 50s tend to drop water temps and create fog, where the fish will be hanging out. Right now the water is in the low 70s, which is still a little high for fall blitz action.
There has been some good fishing to be found though; anglers sent in pictures of weakfish of all sizes, some big bluefish, stripers, and albies. The stripers and blues are staged here right now, waiting for those cooler temps to kick it into high gear. Sea bass are on the wrecks and in the rocks; blackfish are also getting caught in the rocks, so the shop is beginning to bring in green crabs. That season will be here before we know it.
The jig bite has been good if you’re on a boat. Nighttime is the right time if you’re onshore. Also, try and hit the sunrise and sunset periods, as fish tend to chew well at those times in the fall.
The shop is stocked with tons of gear for the fall, such as foul weather gear, and they’re giving out some great deals. Make sure you stop in and check ‘em out!
The Celtic Quest Fishing Fleet of Mattituck is finding some hungry porgies and sea bass on the North Fork this week. The fish have been biting up a storm. Go to celticquestfishing.com to book a trip.
Surfcasting Guide Bernie Bass found some consistency in the suds this week. He caught a few low-end slot fish, and a bunch of short stripers during both night and day. There have been a bunch of bluefish around as well. They’ve been on the prowl at night, shredding his soft plastics. The bait situation is basically an all-you-can-eat buffet; you name it, it’s out there, whether it’s day or night. The cooling temps on their way should surely improve both consistency and productivity.
The Shinnecock Star in Hampton Bays closed out the fluke season on a high note, after bring many doormats over the rail this season. They’ll fill I the time between now and tog season by sea bassing. Call or text Capt. John for info: 631-728-4563.
Kenny at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor reports:
Most of this past week got lost to poor weather. Between the rain and the wind, most boats were forced to stay ashore for most of the week. There was a brief window on Saturday where they were able to get out for some quality bottom fishing. Blackfishing was especially good for the commercial guys who are legally allowed to harvest them right now. We rec anglers have to wait until October 15 in the Bight, and October 11 in the Sound. The commercial guys were catching tog to about 20 inches. One angler was fishing with his son, who caught the biggest porgy he’s ever seen on a green crab. Other than that, the beach bites were pretty slow for the most part. Shinnecock produced on a couple of mornings over the weekend, and albies showed there last Thursday. It’s been pretty quiet otherwise. Montauk has been terrible. There wasn’t much going on in the Montauk classic tournament, and Captain Savio said those waters looked “wintry” for a couple of days, as they were seemingly devoid of life. Kenny will be in the shop 6 days a week until the end of November and open til Christmas. He just got a fresh order of super strike poppers in, just in time for blitz season. He’s also carrying all sorts of bait, and a good line of St. Croix rods. Make sure to stop in if you need anything for the peak of the fall run.
Surf Guide Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball reports:
The Montauk Classic occurred this weekend, and the results were pretty dismal. Bill and Bobby found a bunch of bass to 26 inches the first night on the south side, calling it quits just after sunrise. The sand beaches had dirty water the first night and produced nothing. The second night started on the sand beaches again, but they found dirty water again; back to the rocks. The south side ended up producing some more short bass on darters. They just wanted one keeper fish to enter in the tournament but did not catch it. Turns out nobody did, as there wasn’t a single fish entered into the tournament. Despite great water, filled with great bait, not a single keeper was caught. Fast forward a few days and the fishing improved slightly. Tom and Ray joined Bill for some bassin’ on the south side. Ray picked one there on a white bucktail. They ran to the north side after dark to throw darters. The fish that hit took a black/gold darter. Bill said the hit reminded him of a fish attacking a juvy weakfish. One member of the SRB got out for a few sessions this week, targeting waters in the Peconics. He landed a few keepers and an over-slot bass on poppers. The consensus from the long-time surfcasting veterans on the SRB is that the fishery is in a very bad state. A few of these old salts concur that all the “excuses” for poor fishing that are being thrown around today are the same exact excuses that were used in the 70s right before the moratorium was implemented. People will say that the water is too warm (or too cold), the wind is wrong, blah, blah, blah. Meanwhile, we’re overfishing and overdeveloping/polluting necessary fish-rearing habitat. Bill believes that the primary fishery that supports Montauk is the Chesapeake stock, and that this fishery has been seriously depleted over the years.
Montauk’s Viking Fleet had a good mix of fish this week, with two cod taking the pools on Sunday and Monday, at 10 & 7 pounds. A number of other cod were caught, plus bengals, sea bass, and porgies. Porgies, fluke, sea bass, and triggerfish highlighted other recent trips this week. A 4-pound trigger took the pool on Sunday morning. Yesterday’s trip was excellent, with a mean porgy bite occurring everywhere they went. The sea bass were fewer, but the ones that came up were high quality. Alex Miao took the edible pool with a 5.3-pound sea bass.
Long Island Fishing Forecast
There is still a lot of bunker around, and lots of action to be found on the schools. The beach bites have been stupidly slow, despite a mixture of bait species. Mullet have been running the beach lip for about two weeks now, with their numbers seemingly increasing as the cool nights loom. I see their v-wakes right up near the shore, and they seem like they’re running from something. As far as I can tell, it’s mostly just shad and blues.
I did encounter some stripers, presumably feeding on the mullet or peanut bunker, hanging out on some awesome-looking structure one day. A yellow bucktail did the trick of enticing a bunch of bites during the day. I’ve yet to put in some real hours at night, but from what I’ve done and heard, I’m not missing much on the beaches at night.
I looked into a couple bay spots this week during the day, hoping to find some tiderunners staging to leave. It seemed desolate back there, as I took a couple hard skunks after some serious effort. It did feel fishy though; then I saw the reports on the Surf Rats Ball about some good fish chewing in the Peconics around dusk and night. I think I’ll have another gander back there, see if I can’t entice something with some size. All I’m finding on the beach is some schoolie bass in the mid-20 inch range, and cocktail blues up to about 20 inches. Supposedly there are some bigger fish biting, but they’re fewer and far between.
I was surprised to hear Montauk wasn’t producing good fish, and good numbers of fish. It’s been a grind out there. I’m also surprised to see/hear that the albies haven’t made a great showing. It’s starting to feel like it’s a bit late in the game. Last year’s albie season was awful by me, and I’m hoping I can at least see some blitzing this year. I’ll probably run to the inlet at some point today, once I finish writing. I’m also on the lookout for sharks on the beach, though, so the daytime is typically spent surveying the bunker schools.
Yesterday, I found one shark near the schools. I saw it thrash and thrash and finally catch a fish. Nearby were some hungry dolphins who were causing bunker explosions, and whales lunge feeding through the schools. In fact, every single beach I visited yesterday (about 7) all had whales in feeding mode. The dolphins are funny to watch right now, as they’re in the midst of mating season. I felt weird watching, but it was so cool.
These north wind nights have completely flattened out the ocean. It’s been glass for the past three days, making for awesome visibility. I’m just not seeing tons of predator fish though. It seems wrong.
Then again, September hasn’t been stellar for some years now. The best bet was always finding a stretch of beach that was holding sand eels, and not telling a soul about it. I haven’t been so lucky this year, although that’s a tough bite to come upon; usually you catch word of it, or watch someone else catch fish. That night bite persists silently for 2-3 weeks, until the daytime blitzes occur. Then it all becomes a zoo within minutes, even on the night tides. I’m expecting the same pattern to unfold, although I’ve neither seen nor felt any sandeels just yet. Sand fleas are still tickling my toes, and ripples riddle the beach lip, implying the presence of stripers feeding upon them. I fly fished that type of situation last night instead of trying to rig up a flea. All I managed was one fat cocktail bluefish. I think I should’ve tried the bait route; maybe I’ll give that a try at sunset today.
The next two days should remain calm and glassy. It looks like we’re getting a storm swell coming our way this weekend though. That should be a very fun one to fish. No doubt that with all the bait in the wash, stripers are going to come in to capitalize. Have fun with that. Perhaps that’ll kick start blitz season. We shall see.