Good fluke in Montauk. Fall blitzes occurring out there, especially bluefish. Hardtails beginning to stake out territory throughout the island. Spanish mackerel holding strong in the Sound. Good weakfish mid-island. Tuna near the beaches, feeding with whales and dolphins. And sandsharks!
Long Island Fishing Report
Josh at Gypsea Charters in the Rockaways reports:
We saw up and down fluking this week, with some days experiencing excellent fishing and some fair to dismal fishing on other days. The quality of the fishing relied primarily on the weather conditions. We did see a lot of quality fish ranging from 5 to 8 pounds throughout the week, and many nice sea bass filling coolers in between. We’ll be switching gears to striped bass starting September 18. Text 516-659-3814 for info on availability.
Paul at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin had an awesome couple days out in Montauk this week. He spent time there from Labor Day till Wednesday morning, fishing mostly with guide Tim O’Rourke. They worked their tails off to find fish and got into a good variety. The first day was full of bluefish that would pop up and disappear rather quickly. The fish were mostly 4 to 5 pounds, perfect targets for their 8 weight fly rods. Rather than chase the fish, they’d hang around until the next school popped up in the same area. This approach was definitely more productive than chasing the exploding schools a hundred yards away that would disappear by the time you got there. The second day they found the stripers and got into a bunch of fish to 28 or 29 inches. Paul even caught his first blowfish ever on the fly rod that day (using a Clouser minnow) as well as a bunch of snapper blues. They ran into Capt. David Blinken on the backside, who was targeting the flats in one of the smaller back bays. He had been finding some stripers to bend the fly rod there. The bay was chock full of spearing, and the current was ripping out of there, taking the bait with it. Paul said the fishing was fun and active. Tim would toss a plug to make sure the fish were there, and they pretty much always were. Then they’d toss in their flies and try to get some bites, which wasn’t as easy as the spin fishing. Paul says the key was stripping the fly in quickly with a two-handed retrieve.
Captain Willie of the Capt Lou Fleet in Freeport reports:
Today’s trip is cancelled due to big swell, rough weather and not much life to be found in the water. Otherwise, the time spent on the water this week was pretty darn productive. The whale watching trip produced some exceptional pictures from Hyde Rock of the NY Marine Rescue Center. Some big fluke and sea bass came over the rail yesterday. Two days ago, a few keeper fluke were taken, with some nice sea bass as a fill-in. Porgies are a third target that’s been producing. The Starstream VIII is sailing two 1/2 day trips daily. Book your trip at www.captloufleet.com.
Point Lookout’s Super Hawk Fishing has been finding a nice variety of fish this past week. The usual sea bass, porgies, and fluke are coming up in good numbers, and some of the fish are pretty sizable. There have been some big triggerfish and bonito in the mix as well. Call Capt. Steve to make a reservation: 516-607-3004.
Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:
Weakfish have invaded the island and they are the talk of the town. Lots of keepers and some good tide runners are around. There are also a lot of smaller fish being caught too, which is a great sign for the future. Bright colors and light tackle are the best way to target and catch these special fish. Albies, Spanish mackerel, and frigate mackerel are all here harassing all sorts of small baitfish. Toss diamond jigs, epoxy jigs, or small baitfish flies like Surf Candy and Albie Snax at them for the best results. The shop is loaded with everything that you need to catch these elusive species. Fluking inside the bay is still super hot with big fish! Flatties over 20 inches aren’t uncommon. Light tackle and finesse presentations is the name of the game for the big ones, as the bite is subtle. Bucktails tipped with Fat Cow strips, and Gulp! mullets and grubs are getting smashed up. The classic squid and spearing combo will always do the trick too. The ocean bite is going well on the reef and local wrecks. Just size up your bucktails or sinkers to get down to the action. Black sea Bass action at the wrecks is great, with lots of big fish coming up over the rails. 4 pound fish are coming up often. Clams on the shop chicken rigs always do the trick. They also love big diamond jigs, epoxy jigs, and bucktails sent down. Stripers still require a bit of local knowledge to find right now, especially anything of good size, but they are coming! A few anglers have gotten lucky already with slot-sized fish coming through. The back bays and skinny water seem to be the best places to find a solid late summer bass. The fall run is coming fast!
In the fresh water, the fall transition should be starting. For the bass, fish shallow then head to the deeper water. Work the flats and channel structure. Timber and channel drops are great spots to check too. As for lures, you’re going to need some finesse worms, jigs, crankbaits, and some topwater lures. Pickerel will go for the same things, as well as swimbaits and inline spinners. Yellow perch and sunfish will be schooled up and plentiful. Great for kids and adults, they put up a great fight on ultra light gear.
The reports from Captree’s Laura Lee are starting to look more autumn appropriate now. The variety of species has increased, and the occurrence of certain species has risen immensely. The mackerel catch has continued to increase, laying the foundation for fall excitement regarding hardtails. They are now a regular catch, with other mackerel species certainly not far behind. Here are a couple of trip reports that epitomize the increased variety: Monday’s morning trips caught eight fluke to 4.81 pounds, hundreds of sea bass, 53 porgies, four triggerfish, four sea robins, a bunch of cunner, one bluefish, three pinfish, two barrelfish, 34 mackerel, and one flounder. Friday night’s 11pm trip has 25 fishermen that caught 698 big sea bass, 128 big porgies, one pollack, one bluefish, one ling, five silver eels, one sea robin, and three mackerel. Many of the trips this week had a big variety of species getting caught. I think the variety will only continue to increase as the September weeks come to pass.
The Celtic Quest Fishing Fleet of Port Jefferson has been holding strong on the porgy front. All the kiddos aboard have been catching a ton of scup. Kingfish, dogfish and sea bass have been making special appearances throughout the week as well.
They’ll be sailing regularly, weather permitting. Go to celticquestfishing.com to buy a ticket.
Mark at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport reports:
There’s a plethora of bait around right now, including peanut bunker, killies, eels, spearing, and snappers. Fluke have been around in pretty good numbers, and in some strange areas. The fluke tend to follow bait into areas they don’t frequent this time of year; they’re interested in both the small bait, and the bigger bait fish feeding on the small bait. It is actually a good time of year to catch some bigger fluke, and in areas where you wouldn’t normally find them. Have a look in the back waters, like the Nissequogue River and Stony Brook, the back of Huntington, and elsewhere. Get there around either sunrise or sunset for your best chance at encountering a bite. There was a quick little burst of Albies this week, and Mark’s hoping they’ll stick around after all this wind we’re getting. You never know how wind and murky water are going to affect an albie run though. The good thing about the north shore, though, is that there are endless pockets where one can find shelter from the wind and still be on fishable water.
Steve at Wego Fishing Bait & Tackle in Southold reports:
The Bay Area is holding cocktail blues, weakfish, porgies, kingfish, blowfish, and snapper blues. The Sound side is holding porgies, Spanish Mackerel, and some albies. The mackerel have been here for a few weeks now, holding strong; albies are just beginning to arrive in numbers. Check the north side of Plum, to the Race. Bass and bluefish can be found in the Gut and the Race. Montauk is the hot spot for fluke and black sea bass right now. Check out Pigeons rip, the Race, and pretty much anywhere else. Sea bass fishing has been great this year along the Sound. Mulfords has been awesome. Locally, Mag Darters and twitch baits are absolutely killing the game. The shop is stocked with plenty of resin jigs and epoxy jigs as well; anything you’ll need for the fall run, best check Wego.
Surfcasting guide Bernie Bass is back in action! He picked a decent amount of smaller bass throughout the week along with some slot stripers in the mix. There is a ton of bait around, and the fall run seems to be setting up for a good one. Bernie’s heard word of albies entering our waters recently and intends to get on them ASAP! He spent some time this week with his nephew targeting snappers. The bluefish that hit were pretty big, as snappers go. Bernie says it’s the perfect way to get kids into fishing.
The Shinnecock Star in Hampton Bays says the bay is loaded with bait and there are lots of fish around. They hit upon some of those fish this week, and intend to do so again before the weekend. Charlene took yesterday’s pool with a nice fluke in the afternoon.
Kenny at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor wracked his brain to remember the reports from this past week. Holiday weekends get crazy for the workers out here, so the reports and the workload get jumbled. Plus, reports rarely come in as frequently as the customers on holiday weekends. That fact coupled with all the wind made this week a bit quiet in Sag Harbor. A few guys were trolling near the Peconic choke points, picking some slot-sized stripers this week. Usually those guys will drag parachute rigs, but Kenny wasn’t sure if that was their exact method this week. The big boats around the wharf and marinas in Sag Harbor have these giant lights that shine down onto the water. A bunch of kids have been down there targeting the stripers and weakfish using these lights to their predatory advantage this week. The fish are all under five pounds, but it’s like watching a feeding frenzy in an aquarium. Snapper fishing has been quite mediocre. Most of the people who are going haven’t been realizing that the law now states you can only keep three bluefish, and that includes snappers. Some guys were fishing one of the glass calm days in the harbor this week, targeting fluke. They caught a bunch of shorts, but had a surprisingly poor day given the perfect conditions. Savio Mizzi, on the other hand, absolutely crushed the fluke grounds out in Montauk. He’s been catching fish to 28-29 inches out there pretty regularly. Down on the sand beaches, you can find schools of different fish monopolizing certain areas. It’s kind of a toss up as to what you’ll encounter, but guys this week were finding cocktail blues by Sagg and hickory shad by Mecox. Albies had moved into Montauk, last Kenny heard. They came in as close as the east side of Gardiners. There haven’t been any reports from the Gut just yet. Deep in the back bays, Kenny found an epic amount of peanut bunker, being attacked by snapper blues. He said it was cool to take in, as it reminded him exactly of larger blues taking on larger bunker. The crystal clear water and immense amount of life made for an amazing show.
Rick from Harbor Marina of East Hampton reports:
Storm season is always the most challenging and the most rewarding time of year for anglers on eastern Long Island. One day we have East winds that will not lay down and super strong currents going the other way and the next day it is perfect and you crush it. The moral of this story is to take advantage of good weather windows and tide cycles, as the best fishing on the east end will take place over the next 2 months. Bottom fishing is peaking right now, Porgies and Sea Bass can be found on most structural areas. Tide and wind are key to catching quality fish. Fluking is sporadic, but some big fish will be caught right up until the season closes on 9/30. Bass fishing has improved considerably along the Fishers Island Chain and out in Montauk. Bluefish are usually found in the mix, keeping anglers on their toes. The Albies are in, from Orient Point out to Watch Hill and down to Montauk Point. Some days require a little searching to locate the popular speedsters. Definitely a much better start on the Albies over last year. Reports of Tuna within the 30-fathom line are coming in and I am looking forward to a fall offshore trip as soon as the weather permits.
Montauk’s Viking Fleet began the Labor Day fishing weekend strong, with solid catches of bottom fish. Saturday they had “a couple fluke along with tons of sea bass and porgies like we’ve never seen before.” Tyler Mooney from East Meadow caught a 5.75 pound fluke to take the pool on Saturday afternoon. Whale watching on Saturday went well, with a breaching humpback and one or two minke whales putting on a feeding show for the whale watchers. The bird life out there was pretty awesome to see as well. Labor Day itself provided some excellent fishing, with limits of sea bass, a bunch of quality keeper fluke, and some big porgies that came home for dinner. The quality bottom fishing continued into Tuesday, when Kyle McLaughlin won the pool with a 5.5 pound fluke. Shallow waters near Block Island produced some great porgy fishing on Tuesday. Gim Yee took the pool with a 3.1 pound porgy that day.
Chris Albronda gave me the goods on Montauk:
Montauk is in its transition into the fall run. The striped bass fishing has fallen off a bit; the bluefish have taken their spot, providing lots of fun for light tackle anglers. They have been hitting the diamond jigs religiously. Inshore, the fluke fishing and black sea bass fishing is providing anglers with exceptional catches and limits. Jumbo porgies also hunt the fluke and sea bass grounds, providing for a really nice mixed bag. Offshore action has been awesome with the mahi mahi bite. Chris says the key is to have plenty of fresh chum, and use hooked baits to throw at them. Yellowfin tuna have been pretty darn close, and are providing anglers with some seriously fun battles. Chris is doing open boat trips with Tailwrapped Sportfishing charters. Check them out on social media, and/or give Chris a call to book a trip at 631-830-3881.
Surf guide Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball reports:
Steven got out on his local western Sound waters just post-Ida this week. The immense rain and runoff turned the water brown. The spearing that were there before the storm remained, and the bass stayed nearby them. Steven was able to hook about a dozen stripers on a Redfin. A tsunami sandeel got him his final bite when the current slowed. Steve Castelli bagged his PB striper this week on the north shore. He and Steve F hit some spearing-filled water, finding a nice mix of bass size-wise. Steve Foceri caught a low teen fish to start the night, which was followed by a few very small bass. As soon as they began to think “small bait small fish,” Castelli hooked into a 36 pounder on a bucktail. Congrats Steve!
Dave Flanagan of North Island Fly reports:
Things are starting to get really interesting in the Sound. Farther east, the first waves of false albacore have arrived, and we are just waiting for them to push westward into our local waters. I’m hoping they’ll arrive in the next week or two, and then stick around a while. We certainly have the bait needed to fuel a great fall run, so now we just wait for the fish.There are still plenty of bass and bluefish to be caught in the rips. Getting deep is the key to getting bites. Inshore is still decent, but it should really start to improve as the water cools down.
Long Island Forecast
There are still signs of sharks being present all around the island. Out in Montauk, surfcasters are having the tails of their eels chopped clean off. Anecdotes from the jetties suggest the presence of browns and sand tigers in the Smith’s Point area. Blowups on the south fork bunker schools are vast and violent enough to be deemed sharky. I have even heard of gigantic areas of bunker being invaded by spinner sharks out east. I figured the majority of southern sharks had left by now, but it would appear there are still a good number of them lingering. Why wouldn’t they be, with such a tremendous amount of food (bunker)?
The whales and dolphins have been tearing through the bunker regularly. Every morning I see a whale or two on the feed, and they have several large schools of bunker to lunge-feed upon before moving to the next school a quarter mile down the beach. The dolphins will usually show up a little later, maybe around 9 or 10 in the morning. On Tuesday I saw a group of at least 100 dolphins swimming and playing about a mile offshore. Their playful antics were a pleasure to behold. A group of 5 or 6 dolphins would team up to hoist one dolphin out of the water and keep it up there on its back for a few seconds; a giant male would sneak up on a juvenile and nip at its tail, making it sprint away. Adorable.
Now, let’s get to the sand sharks. I make bonfires for wedding receptions on the beach each weekend. Last weekend I had an experience during a bonfire that gave me an epiphany regarding all the dead dogfish washing up this summer. I had heard all sorts of explanations as to why there’s so many “baby sharks” washing up dead on the beach. I think they’re too inexperienced at “shredding gnar” if you will. Compare them to stripers, who spend lots of time riding the waves along the beach lip hunting mole crabs and small snacks. This year, I noticed the dogfish feeding the same way. Last year, it was a novelty to catch a dogfish on a sand crab; I’d be stoked when I landed one while targeting bass. This year, when targeting bass in the same manner, the dogfish would chew ferociously in that strike zone around sunset. If you weren’t catching dogfish, you were probably snagging them. They had taken over the beach lip.
Fast forward to this weekend. I had a bunch of party-goers freaking out about a baby shark in the wash. I assumed it was one of the dead ones that had been washing up. Lo and behold, the dogfish was squirming around on top of the berm, struggling to make its way across the dry sand back into the water. The realization hit me hard: all the dead dogfish this summer were killing themselves while riding the waves up the bank targeting sand crabs. They flew a bit too close to the sun, though, and stranded themselves at high tide. As the water receded, they stood no chance of returning to the wash. Perhaps hundreds of dogfish would die this way across the east end almost every night. How crazy is that?!
Okay, back to the fishing. Bluefin tuna are still in very close. My friend Derek was fishing off one the south shore jetties, when a 400 pounder exploded out of the water very close to the rocks. I’ve been seeing the unmistakable school-bus-sized explosions in the water three casts from shore pretty regularly. Last year on my birthday (9/11), I had a silver sea filled with bunker a cast out getting terrorized by giant fish. I ran around for hours, trying to get in front of one. At one point I stopped in front of the closest bit of bunker to shore, and waited for something to hit that. It happened, and I launched my popper right to the spot. If I casted a few seconds earlier, I’d have hit that tuna in the back. I waited for the follow up explosion on my lure once it landed, but it never came. Well, it’s that week again, and the prospects are promising. I know what I’ll be looking for on my birthday.
I’ve seen albies jolting around through my drone’s eye this week, and seeing their incredible speed has me jonesing for some hardtail action. I’ll be looking towards Montauk and the inlet this week once I’m able. I’m expecting to see some good blitz action occurring at those spots this week too, and in between. I think this is one of those weeks that you can’t go wrong in choosing a spot to fish. Some choices are going to be better in regards to quality of fish, but I think we’re all going to find some quantity wherever we decide to go. We are completely primed for a strong start to the fall run.
Go enjoy the fishing and the cooling weather! Tight lines.