Long Island Fishing Report – October 21, 2021

Tuna are still around and tautog season is off to a great start.

Rockfish Charters Striped Bass

West MarineStriper blitzes have been very slow to start. Numbers of fish are severely lacking so far. Summer species are still kicking around locally, though. Party boat catches suggest that the weakfish population is healthier than the stripers’ at the moment. Some big tautog (double digitis) are getting caught on the north shore. This blackfish season has been great so far. Tuna are still kicking off the Rockaways.

Long Island Fishing Report

Frank from Bernie’s Bait and Tackle in Brooklyn reports:

Tuna are still available. There are diminishing hookups and numbers, but they have not yet left the area. There is an ever-growing population of striped bass and bluefish taking lures. Stripers are appearing more often in the daytime now that the water is beginning to cool down a bit. The surfcasting isn’t anything to write home about yet, but guys are seeing more and bigger fish. The early morning is a good time to try your luck. Same deal with bluefish. There are fish to about 7 pounds around right now, which make for a good little tussle. Best bets for catching these mainstays right now are poppers and metals. Guys are still finding some porgies in the deeper water around bridges. With the recent spike in temps, one could expect porgies to make their way back into some shallower areas to feed. Frank expects there to be a correlating spike in catches the next couple days. Kingfish are in the mix. Sea bass are very small lately, but there are some there. Albies are popping up here and there, and going down rather quickly. Tautog have been getting caught, but it’s mostly smaller fish. Bigger fish are getting caught in deeper water. As the water cools, this should change for the better. For now, it’s mostly non-keepers.

Josh at Gypsea Charters in the Rockaways reports:

The fall run is in full effect, with an abundance of large striped bass infiltrating the local waters. It’s mostly over-sized fish, and your chances of catching a trophy are better than ever. Tautog have been coming up, but they’re experiencing somewhat of a slow start, probably due to the poor weather conditions and high water temps. The recent cold spell seemed to liven up the local tog though, and we’ve been seeing better action with this species in the past few days. The Star will be togging every weekend by reservation only. They’re also available for private charges for stripers or blackfish. Text or call Josh at 516-659-3814 for info.

Rockfish Charters in Brooklyn is targeting the big bass that showed up after the storm earlier this week. There are a decent amount of slot fish, plus plenty of real chunks from 20-50 pounds in the mix. Now’s the time to book a trip!! Call/text Capt. Kyle or Rich to reserve a spot: 347-661-4501.

The Capt Lou Fleet in Freeport reports:

The 24-hour tuna trip this past week yielded lots of bounty. They found yellowfin up to 80 pounds, longfin tuna up to 60 pounds, and bigeyes around 150 pounds. At times, they had six fish hooked up at once, and even saw a mako shark. They’re running this trip again on Thursday, Friday, Saturday this weekend, leaving the dock at 7 pm. Call Captain Willie for details: 631-830-5251. They’ll be running tog trips from 6 am to 3 pm this weekend as well. A triggerfish or two came up with a boatload of tog last trip.

Point Lookout’s Super Hawk reports:

The offshore grounds are absolutely loaded with huge sea bass, porgies and bluefish. They had an excellent outing a couple days ago. Earlier in the week, they put a couple albies, bonito and triggerfish on the deck. Call Capt. Steve to make a reservation: 516-607-3004.

Al Surf Rats Ball
Al with his PB from the east end this week, on a 5 inch swim shad. Pic is from the Surf Rats Ball.

Captree’s Laura Lee reports: 

The tautog grounds have been very productive lately. They’re finding good numbers of sea bass around there, among other species. Porgies, weakfish, triggerfish, and blowfish are still being caught, as of Monday. A bonito was taken on Sunday. The evening trip on Sunday caught nothing, which is the first time I’ve seen this boat experience a skunk. The night prior almost had the same experience, but they were saved by one 34 pound striper and one shad. The nighttime trip on Friday caught two weakfish. The 7 pm trip caught bluefish to 12 pounds, 75 sea bass, 13 porgies, and a couple other species. No striped bass were caught. I am used to seeing wild numbers of stripers caught on this boat, pretty much all year long. The numbers were incredible! Since this spring, though, I can’t recall a single trip where striper fishing could have been considered even halfway decent. Weakfish are a more reliable species for the fleet these days. Luckily, they’re so good at catching just about every other species of fish. The only explanation is that the striped bass fishery has gone downhill. It is pretty cool and interesting, though, that they’re still catching so many “summer species” on the Laura Lee in mid-late October. I’d say it’s still a good time to climb aboard.

Mark at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport reports:

There’s some huge fish being caught around this full moon. Offshore Harry had a tog over 12 pounds, and others were weighed in that nearly broke the double-digit mark. The action is taking place all over, from our rocky shorelines and reefs, all the way up to Connecticut. Sea bass have been around too, and they’re getting some big ones on the party boats. Chunky porgies are also in the mix. Albies have been around. It’s best to use light fluorocarbon leaders, as they’re known to be finicky this year. There’s some huge bluefish, and plenty of striped bass to keep rods bent. Guys have gotten some decent bass on both the north and south shores.

Dave Flanagan of “North Island Fly” has been having a ball on the north shore targeting just about everything that swims. Peter and his son Joseph got out on Peter’s birthday over the weekend. Sixteen-pound bluefish, topwater stripers, blackfish, oyster toadfish, porgies, and sea bass were all biting. What a day! Two days ago the albies showed up, and Ray was able to pick some from the sloppy conditions.Check out Dave’s website to book him for a charter now at www.northislandfly.com.

The Celtic Quest Fishing Fleet of Mattituck has been putting a hurting on the blackfish this week. The east end was chock full of tog, sea bass and porgies. They found the same variety the next day when they fished out of Port Jeff. They were back on the bite later that day in Mattituck again, with lots of fish coming over the rail.

Super Hawk porgy scales
Porgies taken on the Super Hawk.

Steve at Wego Fishing Bait & Tackle in Southold reports:

Albies and bass were busting all over the Sound beaches yesterday. You could find them all the way from the point to McCabes. With the recent winds, guys have been opting for heavier lures, like tins and bucktails. Togging is red hot right now, and Wego’s got a bunch more crabs coming in. Whities and hermit crabs should be there tomorrow. You can find the blackfish at pretty much any rocky spot along the Eastern Sound right now. There are lots of boats up in the Gut and Race, and they’re catching. With the gorgeous weather these days, one can expect the fishing to improve. There are some nice sea bass getting caught right now in Pigeons Rip and on the north side of Plum.

Surfcasting Guide Bernie Bass had a good week in the surf, finding consistent bites of bass of all sizes. Kenny S. got his personal best, and Aaron S. picked his first bass from the beach. There is plenty of bait in the water, and the cooler temps incoming should only improve the bite.

Rich at Whitewater Outfitters in Hampton Bays reports:

Bass fishing has been excellent this week. Some big fish, supposedly to 50 pounds, are coming out of the inlet. Rich saw pictures of fish to at least 35 pounds this week. Some good fish are getting caught along the beach too. You could catch schoolies, and some decent bass in the bay as well. Albies finally opened up their mouths a bit. Jeff from the shop is out targeting them today. The tuna kind of went away, but we do not know where. There’s a ton of white bait along the beach, and shad feeding on them. Rich says the shad are the new two-pound bluefish, in terms of being a nuisance. Tog fishing has been good on the north fork. Rich has a few buddies who have been fishing out of there for a long time, and they’re on the bite. It has been a better-than-average start. Deep-water wreck fishing has been good. Cod and sea bass are biting, and the sea bass are pretty darn big and plentiful right now.

Montauk’s Viking Fleet is running an extra tuna trip this year, departing tomorrow (Friday 10/22) at 11 am. The tuna fishing has been so good this year, so why not keep after them! This weekend, they found some good fishing in deeper water, targeting porgies, sea bass, triggerfish, cod and mackerel. The fishing sounds like it’s still quality, but the size of the pool-winning fish definitely decreased over the past week or two. All cod were under ten pounds, and most porgies were under three pounds. Sea bass did not break 3.5 pounds. Decent enough numbers of fish were caught though, to make the trips well worth it.

Surf guide Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball reports:

The fishing improved after the sun rose on Friday morning. Rain bait fueled a blitz at our feet on the south side, with stripers to the mid-teens blowing up on pencil poppers. Bill, Matt, and his friend picked about 40 fish before calling it quits. Bill says these blitzes were small and concentrated. He heard of similar blitzes occurring up the island, between Jones and Shinnecock. The fact that they’re small scale, seldom, and sporadic likely indicates a low quality fishery. The blitzes we used to experience were vast and regular. Fast forward to Monday, when Bill’s client Ari hooked into what was likely the biggest fish any of his clients has ever hooked. The fish ate a stubby Super Strike Needlefish. During the epic battle, Bill’s other client made the fatal error of attempting to cast before this giant fish came to hand. His plug fouled the tight line, eventually culminating in a break-off. My condolences, Ari. SRB member Al spent a few days in Montauk hunting the big girls from the beach. On Sunday, he picked a 30-inch fish on an Amagansett beach. On Tuesday, on his way out of town, he popped on to the beach for a couple last casts. He threw a white 5-inch swim shad out, and got nailed 30 feet from the beach. After a good fight, the 41-inch fish came to hand, and was sent back swimming quickly. Props to the crushed barb and the quick release Al. Congrats on the new PB! Bran picked a few fish up in the Peconics after solving the “which lure” puzzle. A popper kept raising fish, but not hooking them. A few other plugs were attempted, but he finally found success with the chartreuse bucktail. He picked a couple schoolies, then a high-slot fish. 7 more fish came to hand afterward, all released.

Long Island Fishing Forecast

I have a list of excuses for why I’m catching so few fish lately:

The water is warm, so maybe the run is late. I’m putting in fewer hours this year, so maybe my finger has fallen off the pulse. The striped bass fishery is a fraction of what it used to be, so maybe there’s just less fish to catch.

I’m certain those are all contributors to my worst fall season ever. And I’m sure some schoolies are on the way to quell my anguish. I could use a softball bite right about now, as I only caught one day this past week. What’s funny is I couldn’t catch those fish on a spin rod; I had to swing a clouser with my fly rod to get bites. Although catching on the fly is double the fun, it doesn’t make up for the constant skunks.

I know some surf guys are getting on some big fish. I know they’re putting in hard hours to do so. It seems like Montauk has been pretty productive, although the inconsistency is reminiscent of what I’m experiencing on the sand beaches. The inlet has produced some fish here and there, but I reckon the number of stripers being caught is far too few for the amount of guys fishing for them. I’ve been thinking that perhaps the key to this inconsistent bite is being consistent, which makes sense. Hunker down on your favorite point/rock/spot, and fish it as often as you can; don’t chase reports. Trust that the fish will come to you.

Maybe tomorrow the fall run will really kick off.

Maybe the fall run is just becoming a thing of the past.

After the Maryland juvenile Striped Bass index came out this week, I was infuriated. The lack of variety in size, and the diminishing numbers of larger bass over the years implies that this fishery is suffering. A shred of doubt always remained in my mind, because who really knows what fish do and where fish go? Maybe it’s just the fish, taking a different route south. 

Good news is there are still a good amount of fish up north. The water temps are most certainly warm for this time of year. I have not yet stopped wet wading. Summer species are still around. Perhaps when the water gets colder, the bass will come to the beach in droves. I can see some hanging far off the beach underneath the bunker schools. The most bass I’ve seen under one big school is six fish though, not very many.

I’m sure you’ll find fish if you put in the time. It is definitely a good idea to hit the hot spots (inlets, important points, etc.). Get it in while you can too. The future of this fishery is very uncertain. Let’s hope for the best, and make sure we fight to try to make it the best.

I’m out. Tight lines.

 

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