Long Island New York Fishing Report – December 23, 2021

West Marine
Sea bass season closes a week from Friday, and the fishing on the deepwater wrecks has been hot!

New potential white perch record for NY.

Wreck fishing is closing with a bang! Get your last licks before sea bass season closes on 12/31. Cod, pollock, weakfish, porgies, hake, ling, monkfish, and more are coming over the rail.

Holdovers, herring, and freshwater species for the shorebound.

The Capt Lou Fleet in Freeport reports:

Our remaining offshore wreck trips will take place from December 26-31. The end of black sea bass season is approaching fast! All trips leave the night before, except 12/26. The fishing right now is epic. Our December 15 trip saw limits all around of jumbo sea bass and weakfish once again.  It was basically drop-and-stick fishing from beginning to end, allowing us to come home early with full boxes. There were a good amount of large porgies, rounding out the catch. Catches of pollock, cod and hake are to be expected while out there.

Point Lookout’s Superhawk had an outstanding offshore wreck trip the other day. The fishing we’ve been seeing on these trips have been some of the best wreck fishing we’ve experienced in years. Light crowds are expected this week, so book your trip today and stock up on sea bass fillets before the season closes.

Catches include giant sea bass, jumbo porgies, big weakfish, cod, pollock and more. A large monkfish came up as a bonus catch the other day.

Call today to make a reservation: 516-607-3004.

The pending state record white perch caught by Rich Miller.

Saltwaters Tackle in West Islip reports: 

Richie Miller weighed in a 2.75 pound white perch yesterday at the shop. We’re a certified weigh station, and this fish should replace the former saltwater white perch record, which was set earlier this year at 2.58 pounds.

Captree’s Laura Lee reports: 

Trips are getting cancelled left and right due to rough seas. Make sure you book a trip today so you don’t miss one of the few opportunities to get out before the sea bass season closes.

We closed out blackfish season with a solid trip on the 19th. Anglers had 43 tog and 1 cod come over the rail. The morning prior saw 52 blackfish to nine pounds. The deepwater special trip that Saturday morning caught 646 giant sea bass, keeping a full boat limit. We also caught 303 giant porgies, 4 bluefish, 4 dogfish, 6 pinfish, 1 banded rudder fish and 13 cunner.

The wreck trips are yielding a variety of species including pollock, cod, porgies, monkfish, and weakfish.

The Hampton Lady of Hampton Bays reports:

The wreck fishing this Saturday was great, with full limits of sea bass stuffing coolers. It was more of the same on Monday. The sea bass were huge! We’re running a trip tomorrow (Christmas Eve), and closing for good on 12/31, when sea bass season ends.

Montauk’s Viking Fleet reports:

Saturday morning’s trip saw some of the largest porgies we’ve seen all year. Everyone ended up with a handful of nice sea bass, but they had to pick through some little ones to get them. A couple cod and pollock also came up. A 4 pound porgy took the pool that morning. The edible pool winner was a 5-pound cod.

That afternoon, Ricky Morel took the blackfish pool with a 9.5 pounder. Leandre Haddew had a 4.5 pound sea bass to take that pool, and Belkys Perez had a nine pound cod for that pool.

Monday’s trip found a solid mixed bag on the Starship. The day provided steady fishing, and limits of porgies and sea bass were attained. Sea bass were on the smaller side, but there were plenty of keepers coming up. A dozen cod, some pollock and a few blackfish accompanied the catch. Ramon Reynoso won the pool with a 2.2 pound porgy.

Wednesday’s trip was the final tog/sea bass/cod trip of the season. The small crowd meant no pool. Gim Yee reeled in a nice blackfish, which was accompanied by the aforementioned species.

Long Island Fishing Forecast

As you can see, the reports are becoming fewer by the day. Sea bass season closes on New Years Eve, so most boats are going to call it quits that day. Most fishing will be done by the shorebound after New Years Day, so I figured I’d lay out some options for you.

If Rich Miller’s fish didn’t convince you to get out there for white perch, perhaps I can. I’m obsessed with this fish. Finding them takes a lot of work, and staying on them takes even more. They’re a cousin to the striped bass, and their looks/demeanor will convince you that they’re more like a brother to the striped species. Their diet is as diverse as the striper’s, and figuring out what they’re chewing on can be a great puzzle. I’ve spent hours tossing dozens of presentations to fish I knew were present, and finally started catching when I tied on a size 12 Mickey Finn with a bit of split shot. That probably wasn’t worth it, in hindsight… but this is a very worthwhile fish to target on Long Island, as we have a good amount of abnormally large white perch across the island. A fat, pre-spawn 16 incher will probably get you the new saltwater record. The freshwater record is going to be a bit more difficult to tackle, as that record fish weighed 3 pounds and 1 ounce. I am going to be gunning for both of those records this year. I have released fish in the past on Long Island that would defeat the world record, at 3.5 pounds and 18 inches. For me this is the most worthwhile fish to target in the winter, but that’s just a personal preference. I love the challenge.

Another species that could potentially put your name on the state record list this winter would be Chain Pickerel. The standing record was caught in 1965, and weighed 8.1 pounds. There’s no length on that fish, but I would imagine it’s around 28 inches. The world record was 31 inches, weighing just under 9.5 pounds. Length-wise, that’s almost 79 cm. Compare that to the C&R world record, which is 65cm. I caught a 65cm fish last winter. Lord knows there are bigger ones out there, so that’s why this is second on my list of potential state records to be caught this winter.

I have some other fish in mind, but my expectations of a Long Island fish taking the state record for all these other species are very low. For instance, there are some huge walleye on Long Island. I’m not sure if there’s any 18+ pounders though, which the state record weighed 3 years ago. Regardless, catching one of those big ‘eyes around 10 pounds will be a fish you won’t soon forget. Then there’s the panfish species. Black crappie’s state record is 4 pounds 1 ounce. I’ve had them to the upper 2’s on Long Island and, again, I’m sure there are larger ones. Bluegill is in a similar position, with the record being 2.5 pounds; that fish was only 12 inches. That’s big for a bluegill, but maybe not out of the question for Long Island waters.

For some reason or another, the local waters produce freakishly large fish.

Fishing the freshwater is a great way to improve all aspects of your game. Firstly, it’ll demand a transition to lighter line, since you’ll want to throw smaller lures, especially for the panfish. Using lighter line helps you develop your touch, and also your confidence. It increases casting distance as well, which is huge when you’re throwing 1/16 ounce hair jigs. You’ll tie more knots, so you will improve on that front. 

I compare targeting multiple species to playing multiple sports. The best athletes I’ve known didn’t only play basketball, or hockey, or lacrosse. They played all three, plus others. Cross-training strengthens muscle groups that may not be the most important ones for a specific sport. Strengthening the primary muscles will help you specialize, but strengthening your base by doing “irrelevant” exercises will make you a stronger performer in the long run. Fishing for different species will make you consider different menus. I’ll give you a perfect example:

I didn’t know what a nymph was before I started targeting trout on the fly rod; well, I thought I knew, but that’s neither here nor there. When I learned about drag free drifts for nymphs, I realized I’m essentially just bait fishing with a convincing lure. Really, that’s all any type of fishing is, just convincing a fish that what’s on your hook is food. But I began to understand drag, unrealistic motion, and the micro level of predation. It is amazing to me that these bigger fish will eat something that 1/10 the size of my fingernail. Turns out lots of other fish are willing to do the same thing. I began implementing nymphs in my brackish creek when I would teach little kids how to fish. If we weren’t catching perch, or eels, or anything else, I’d tie a perdigon onto 4 pound fluoro and drop the nymph into the water. Almost always, that would be our most productive method of fishing. The fish were always on the smaller side (I think the biggest was a 7 inch perch), but it was nonstop action and the kids absolutely loved it! Furthermore, we’d catch fish that I didn’t think were possible to target with hook and line, such as spearing and mummichogs.

If I never diversified my fishing by picking up a fly rod for trout, I’d be boring these kids to death while we sit with a baited hook on a hot dock, catching nothing.

SO, diversify my friends. Make yourself a better angler.

I would consider targeting holdover stripers “diversifying.” I am fishing for them in a different season, and the menu is different. The feed is slow, and mostly non-violent. Often, you’ll need to put a tiny lure right in the fish’s face, and let it sit there for 5 second before the fish says “okay that might be worth eating.” It took me 5 winters to hook into my first holdover, and I had been going hard. The payoff when I finally found some was tremendous, and I’m able to stay bent on serious winter fish for a much larger portion of the season.

One quick thing I want to address is the “give them a break” notion. It’s possible, as it always is in fishing, that I might be a little off base with the following assertion. I’m speaking from experience, and I’m not a scientist, but I understand the science enough to be confident in my perspective. If you want to give the fish a break, give them a break in the summer. If you’re targeting bay waters in the summer time, you’re catching fish out of 70+ degree water potentially. The difference between the quantity of dissolved oxygen in 70 degree water versus 50 degree water is vast, and it is the most important reason for a fish dying post-release. I’ve fished the flats in August, and after a very quick fight, and in-water handling and release, the fish sank to the bottom and went belly-up. Obviously I grabbed it and gave it a good long revival before sending it back. 

Another saltwater fix you could get this winter is targeting herring. They tend to move into harbors and big structure in huge numbers, and remain for much of the winter. If you’ve got any old timers in your life, odds are they dabble on pickled herring; it’s one of my mom’s favorite foods. Check with your local tackle shop for rigging tips and spot recommendations.

That about covers the gamut of your winter fishing options. 

If you’re not about the frigid outdoors, check out some of my favorite youtube channels for some awesome fishing content. I’ll mention Peter Laurelli first, as his videos were the most inspirational to me. I’m sure you all know Rich from Fishaholic Fishing, who was my first favorite youtuber. His videos have gotten better and better throughout the years. His incorporation of the drone makes for well done fishing content. My man Jerry from “Fish Your Way” puts out some of the best vibes on the island when it comes to fishing. He’s super sharp, very versatile, and exceedingly generous with his advice and tutorials. No matter what, I always finish his videos with a smile.

I just came across some great files I thought I lost, so keep an eye out for some awesome drone footage coming out on my instagram soon, @SouthForkSalt. Also, subscribe to my youtube (also South Fork Salt) for an upcoming tutorial regarding something I mentioned earlier in this forecast: drag-free drifts. The video will explain the importance of mending in the surf; doing so will help you stay in the strike zone longer, which I guarantee will help you catch more. There were more than a few occasions this year when I hammered bass on the fly rod, and a line of guys with spin gear were watching me, utterly flabbergasted. This video is from one of those days. I hope you’ll enjoy it!

And I hope you enjoy the holiday season! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! Thanks for sticking with me to the bitter end. Tight lines.

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1 thought on “Long Island New York Fishing Report – December 23, 2021

  1. Frank

    Great thoughts and insight as always Tim!
    Be well…Merry Christmas…happy holidays…Gid bless…

    Frank Zima
    Albany NY

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