Long Island Fishing Report – December 9, 2021

West Marine
The author (left) and crew with the spoils of a successful “ghost” hunt off the South Shore this week.

Hot Bluefin Tuna bite not far from shore in Nassau. Signs of the same in Suffolk.

Double digit tog on the South and North Forks.
Great bite of huge sea bass at offshore wrecks when boats can get out there. Good variety out there too, with catches of big scup, weakfish, bluefish, and cod mixing up the bag.

White Perch beginning to show face.

Good schoolie striper fishing in the NY Harbor area.

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

There’s not a huge variety to choose from nowadays, but there are some good opportunities to bend the rod and have some fun. There are wall-to-wall bass in the area, so that’s your best bet at some action. You can find them pretty much anywhere you go. They’re probably 85% shorts, with a few keepers in the mix here and there. There is a tremendous amount of poaching going on unfortunately.

The stripers are primarily feeding upon herring, bunker, and shad right now. Nobody has seen any sand eels yet, but hope remains that they’ll come in during this crazy year and extend the bite a bit. Barring a major deep-freeze event, these local stripers should be sticking around until late December at least.

There hasn’t been any word of bluefish lately, but Frank reckons there’s still a chance to catch some. There have been a few reports from the open ocean, so Frank gives them honorable mention.

Guys are going offshore for sea bass at the wrecks, and getting some good ones. There’s been an ever-increasing chance of catching a cod out there too. Frank says it’s usually the first guys to show up to a spot that will luck into a cod. The local cod fishery hasn’t been anything to write home about for some years, but this year a number of them have come over the rails.

There are still a handful of guys catching squid. For the most part, that’s going down away from the beach.

Rockfish Charters in Brooklyn reports:

The fishing on the tog grounds this weekend was very tough. We managed to pull a handful over the rail, but opted for the better striper fishing that was occurring. Everyone went home with a blackfish or two, plus a slot striper. The striper bite definitely salvaged the day.

Call/text Capt. Kyle or Rich to reserve a spot: 347-661-4501.

Paul at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin reports:

The saltwater guys are still catching bass. Captain Brian out of East Rockaway has been doing well in the Atlantic/Jones Beach region. He even caught a few bass into the 30-inch range.

John McMurray is still going offshore to catch tuna.

The effort is slowing down for the most part. Not as many guys are going out fishing.

The Connetquot is producing as always. Dennis, Bill and John went there yesterday and all caught. Dennis had 7 fish to Bill and John’s 4-each. They were nymphing.

John McMurray of “One More Cast Charters” in Oceanside ran offshore a bunch this week to target the late season Bluefin Tuna, otherwise known as “ghosts.” I had the pleasure of joining Captain Tony and a righteous crew to target these fish. Our boat got one fish just after sundown, and the other boats in the fleet had a few fish. Ours was about 130 pounds. Other trips John ran this week went similarly, with a lot of bluefin coming home for the table. John’s fleet is run-and-gunning for the most part, throwing poppers into flocks of feeding birds. The topwater eats have been explosive, and the feeding activity is pretty insane for this late in the season.

Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside reports:

Jim Mooney of “Miss Deb” fished Saturday on the outgoing just west of Debs inlet. There were bunker schools off the Rockaway beach. He pulled up several large bluefish while live-lining bunker, but couldn’t find any striped bass underneath them. A whale was breaching all morning just 200 feet away. Tuna were being reported all the while on the radio, just a bit east.

The Capt Lou Fleet in Freeport reports:

Capt. Anthony Gillespie and Capt. Michael Ardolino sailed Saturday and Sunday this weekend. Saturday’s trip experienced some serious current offshore early in the trip at night, and fishing was looking sluggish. Capt. Mike made some good moves and turned the trip around. Sunday’s trip saw a fair pick night and day. Doubles and triples were coming up all around the boat, all day.

Seal watching trips are another one of our highlighted events, so check out the info for them on our website.

Point Lookout’s Superhawk had an excellent outing yesterday at the offshore wrecks. The sea bass fishing was very good, and so was the weather and company. There are also some mondo scup and quality weakfish out there. Unfortunately, it’s looking like a very windy weekend ahead, so we’ll only be sailing one trip on Friday. It’s a light crowd right now, so sign up ASAP! 

Their December schedule is posted on their Facebook page. Call today to make a reservation: 516-607-3004.

Captree’s Laura Lee reports: 

Most trips were cancelled this week. The ones that did go down went very well. Saturday morning’s bite was great; the catching consisted of 226 giant sea bass, 102 porgies, 6 bluefish, 1 cod, 1 fluke, 13 ling, 3 weakfish, 3 pinfish and 2 silver eels. The blackfish trip caught almost 60 tog, 4 porgies, 61 sea bass and 23 dogfish.

Sunday’s local AM trip had 21 anglers who caught 9 stripers and kept 7. The blackfish trip had 116 tog, 9 porgies, 31 sea bass, 1 fluke and 15 dogfish.

Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:

Most of the reliable bass reporters have switched over to tuna to capitalize on this epic December bite. The fishing out there has just been so reliable that effort on the striper front has waned a bit. Back on dry land, Bill’s dad Frank has been lucking into a few white perch every now and again.

Mark at Cow Harbor Bait & Tackle in Northport reports:

After a quick repair at the shop, we sent Joseph Yam to the tog grounds fully prepped for battle with a white chin. He ended up catching his personal best at 10.22 pounds, and almost 26 inches. It came on his custom tog jig.

Get your freshwater license renewed today! Also make sure your marine registry is up to date so you don’t have any trouble.

Locally, there’s some guys still sticking it out catching bass here and there. There are some shad around, which is great for the fly guys. There are even some American shad. Herring anglers are beginning to get amped up for the season ahead.

It’s rod-building season, not to mention holiday season, so make sure you pop in if you need repairs or builds, or you want to give someone a great gift!

The shop will be closed on Sundays and Mondays as we enter the winter season, to allow some free time for outdoor activities.

The Hampton Lady of Hampton Bays reports:

Saturday provided an incredible opportunity for offshore wreck fishing. Our last few trips had been excellent, and this was right on par. The fish keep getting bigger. Multiple sea bass over the six pound mark came over the rail, and there were constant double headers.

Sunday’s trip saw boat limits achieved; the fishing was as good as it gets.

Yesterday’s trip was no different, with a full boat limit of giant sea bass, some beautiful weakfish, a couple of cod, some scup and some red hake. The bite was on fire from beginning to end. Doubles of all combos were flying over the rail one after the other. We left ‘em biting and got back home early to send customers home with coolers full of goodies.

Joseph Yams caught this double-digit tog from the North Shore.

Ethan at Whitewater Outfitters in Hampton Bays says there’s not much in the way of reports these days. Most guys are finishing up for the season. There are some scattered reports of smaller bass cruising the beaches, and some small bass in the inlet still. They are getting smaller day by day.

There hasn’t been any reports of herring just yet, and white perch reports have been quiet.

The tuna bite out west is obviously insane, but not many reports are coming from out here.

Surf guide Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball reports:

Despite a good showing of life on Sunday about three casts off the beach, there was nothing up front for a surf rat. Bill fished the Shirley area and saw gannets, bunker and whales. There were some bigger splashes in the area, just too far out. Word on the street is there’s a nice herring bite occurring in Rhode Island right now. Some quality bass are being pulled.

Steven found a school of bunker getting worked by some bass on Saturday night in the Rockaways. He had a bunch of fish on his yellow bottle plug, all of which were in the lower slot or under it. The moonlit water gave away the presence of some larger fish attacking the timid bunker. Eventually he switched to a metal lip and picked another 7 fish. He ended the night with 24 bass and 3 bluefish. Most fish were 26 to 28 inches.

Montauk’s Viking Fleet reports:

Saturday went well on the Starship. The sea bass were small when we began, so we headed east to find larger fish. The fishing improved throughout the day, with large porgies, sea bass and a handful of cod. First place pool winner was Jorge March from Islip Terrace who caught a 2.75 pound porgy. Simon Levy from Staten Island took the edible pool with his eight pound cod.

The next day went even better on the Starship. Capt. Dave reports lots of porgies chewing up a storm. The sea bass bite was tough because the porgies were so ravenous. However, some good-sized biscuits came over the rail. Jorge Davila Cotten took the pool with the biggest porgy we’ve seen in a while, at 3.7 pounds.

Capt. JR took the Star out for blackfish on Sunday morning, with limited success. There were some big ones and many anglers had their limit. The highlight, though, was probably the sea bass bite; every angler had his limit on jumbo sea bass. The cod bite was also quality. Alden Welch won the sea bass pool with a 4.5 pounder. Victor de Jesus won the cod pool with an 8.9 pounder. The blackfish pool went to Montauk’s Richard Wright, who caught a 10.5 pounder.

Long Island Fishing Forecast

Saturday and Sunday were the optimal days to get offshore this week, and most boats did well. The water was glass calm for the most part, making long runs to offshore wrecks possible. The reports were consistent across the board: giant sea bass, quality scup, some cod, some weakfish, and plenty of variety.

I was lucky to get a last-minute invite for a bluefin tuna trip the other day. What an experience!

We ran offshore before sunrise. We began seeing birds working at about 25 miles offshore. At first we could only find porpoises under the birds, so we kept moving. We’d cruise around, hopping from one flock of birds to the next. It was fun trying to spot the birds feeding near the horizon, and then sprinting over to them. We’d cast our lures into the chaos, and hope for a hit. Almost every time we met a new flock of birds, we’d get at most two casts off before the action subsided. It was like the fish heard our boat and ran away, which discontinued the birds’ feeding opportunity, so they’d fly away also. We must’ve probed the waters under 15 to 20 different flocks of feeding terns, gulls and gannets. Once mid-day hit and the sun was high, all action ceased. No birds worked, so we waited out the lull patiently. A couple of hours later, at about 2:30pm, the action kicked back on. It was a bit more active than earlier in the day, when most boats on the radio had caught their tunas. We tried and we tried, failing over and again. At sunset we came upon the biggest feed of the day, and could actually see the tuna rolling on the bait, which was apparently tons of juvenile white hake. We all landed our lures right in front of the feeding fish, but didn’t get a single take. We were losing light quickly at this point, and weren’t sure we’d get another opportunity.

The fish gods must’ve heard our petitions, as they placed one final flock of feeding birds in front of us on our way home. The sun had already set. We caster our poppers on by one. My friend who invited me, KC, was the lucky fella who got the bite after sunset. The 130-pound fish bent out the single hook on the tail of the popper, and we remained barely hooked to this fish with a single prong of our belly treble. We kept the rod bent strong for 45 minutes, keeping that hook lodged in there. All of us fought the fish. Eventually it rose to the surface, and we got gaffs in it.

What an awesome experience. As a surfcaster, it was right up my alley. The constant scanning, looking for birds, is something I regularly do on the beach, and I’m quite good at it. Then, there’s the long casts required to reach the feed in order to maintain distance so the fish don’t hear the boat. I swear I’ve been training for this day. Ghost tuna fishing is incredible. And man, it was so hard. We were so lucky to happen upon that final awesome feed of the day. I feel like we earned it. That was a great day.

Ever since, I’ve been playing around with back bay bass and poking around for white perch. It’s that time of year again. The beach bite is slowing down a good bit. Lord knows if there will be anymore opportunities out by me for a beach bite. I expect there will be. I’m used to seeing herring come into the wash, molested by death rats, on the last few days of the season. My friends who were out surfcasting the other day actually saw some giant tunas feeding close to shore. So you never know what you’re gonna get. You just gotta go to know.

So get out there! There are still some warm days ahead. But forget that, the colder days are even better. The colder the day, the fewer people you’ll see. The fewer people you see, the better chance you have of running into some cool raptors, like bald eagles, snowy owls, hawks, etc. The colder it is, the more inclined I am to get out. In fact, I was fishing the bay at 2am last night in the snow, hoping for a giant bass on this new moon tide. No such luck though. I heard fish feeding, but couldn’t get them to eat!

My next move is sending this report in, and getting right out after the white perch.

At some point this week, I’ll hit the Connetquot. That’s an awesome winter fishing activity. Good fishing, too. I’ve been missing those trout.

Like I said, I’m expecting to see some herring this week. You really never know what you’re gonna get in this grab-bag of a fishing year. But if prior years’ experience are any indicator, I’m expecting to find some decent bass feeding upon herring this week. 

Here’s to hoping you find whatever you’re after… tight lines.

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