Man, New York’s summer fishing season is in full swing. Right around this time last year I enjoyed bluefish from the jetties on topwater, fluke in the back bays from the kayak, stripers at night on the North Fork, or rays on the open beach. The end of July is an exciting time to be an inshore angler on Long Island, but it’s equally as invigorating to be offshore hooking tuna on spinning gear. Whatever your cup of tea, there’s plenty of life out there, and something is willing to bite your offering.
For the shore angler, I recommend hitting the south shore surf. Bring some pyramid sinkers and chunked bunker rigged on a quality surf fishing combo, and enjoy the madness of trying to out-muscle a ray. It’s a fun bait and wait challenge. But, if going big isn’t your thing and you’d rather catch some dinner, a lighter surf setup can be used for northern kingfish; these small, tasty members of the drum family migrate north to our beaches each summer. In New York, there’s no bag limit, no size limit, and although I’ve never tried them, I hear they make a mean fish taco. They’re usually in large schools too, so they’ll provide steady action when fishing with small cut bait or bright and smelly artificials, like Fishbites or Gulp.
We often hear about “the dog days of summer”, when hot and sunny weather slows fishing down, but I would argue that this is the fishiest time of year. I love throwing generic lures like a Luhr Jensen Crippled Herring or a Kastmaster around jetties in late July and early August… you never know what is going to bite. As we head into August, spanish mackerel are in, fluke fishing is going strong, bluefish are gonna act like bluefish, and fishing piers hold a surprising amount of life in the back bays. Triggerfish, northern puffers, small black sea bass, porgies, fluke and more are lingering around pilings to pick off small baitfish and crustaceans. The accessibility to quality fishing for almost any species is at its peak, which is also why I think this is the best time of year to give a kid a fishing rod.
Trying to decide on a target species can be overwhelming with all these options, but there are worse problems to have than too many fish being around. Still, if you aren’t sure where to turn, check in with your local tackle shop or inquire with a nearby charter service about what’s biting in your area. Here’s what’s going down around New York City and Long Island this week.
Captain Rich of Rockfish Charters in Brooklyn reports:
“The New York Bight live-bunker striper fishing is the best I’ve ever seen it. Fish are concentrated into deeper, cooler water of shipping channels in a big way.” Call (347) 661-4501 to book your trip today!
Captain Josh of Gypsea Charters in Howard Beach, Queens reports:
“Fluking over the past week remains very good with loads of action and quality keepers hitting the deck each trip. Quite few limit catches were taken over the past week with the big fish going just over 7 pounds. We anticipate the quality fluking to continue for the remainder of the summer.” Call or text to make reservations, (516) 659-3814. Reservations a must.
Bill Falco of Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:
“Some bigger fluke have finally moved into the bay. Some solid fish in the 18 to 24 inch mark are rolling around the bay finally. They are held up in the Flats, channels, and holes. Bucktails tipped with a Fat Cow strip or a Gulp! plastic are a shop favorite. They really seem to like the off colors like yellow and orange this season. The sea bass action on the local reefs and wrecks is on fire. Anglers are coming home with bay limits of great fish, with some big knuckleheads in the mix. They’re all over the epoxy jigs and bucktails, and a classic hi-lo right will always put ‘em in the boat. Striped bass action is on fire out in the ocean, with some beautiful big fish running around getting bigger for the fall. Jigging and popping will bring em right to you. Live bait is always working too, just be sure to use the approved circle hooks. Snag and drop is no longer a legal move. We recommend a bait bridle and big 8/0-10/0 inline circle hanging off the front for maximum hookups. Bluefish are still all over the place, being a menace to every bit of bait they can find. Popping plugs, tins, and pretty much anything else you can throw at them will entice a bite. All of the local docks are seeing blowfish and kingfish, getting some great numbers. Those little guys make for a great family fun day. Snappers are starting to show up as well.
In a local freshwater, bass fishing couldn’t be better. They are alive and active in the early mornings and the evenings, blowing up on top water lures. During the day, go slow and low with a jig or senko setup for maximum effectiveness. Pickerel are out cruising and they’ll crush any moving baits you toss at them, as well as a well presented top water lure. Sunfish and yellow perch are schooled up and easy pickings for the kids and kids at heart. The classic worm and bobber is all you’ll need. In-line spinners and tiny jugs work really well too. Trout acting is still pretty slow due to the heat, your best bet for decent action would be in the evenings.”
On the north shore, Captain Stu of Northport Charters reports:
“We’re seeing lots of bait in both the bay and the Long Island Sound. Spearing, bay anchovies, peanut bunker, adult bunker and tinker mackerel; there’s lots of life! We are bending the rod on some keeper fluke daily, along with a solid mix of big porgies and keeper sea bass too. The sea bass have been hitting clams and are getting bigger each week. With the bunker around, we’re starting to see bluefish in the bay along with a few lingering striped bass.” Call or text (631) 707-3266 for reservations or go to northportcharters.com .
David at Westlake Marina in Montauk reports:
“A nice mess of fluke came into the dock from several different boats yesterday. Sunny days have been productive. A lot of big, knot-head sea bass are coming in regularly too. Striper fishing at the point has slowed down dramatically, and those fish have mostly moved out to Block Island. However, plenty of bluefish are being caught in slightly deeper water on diamond jigs and umbrella rigs from boat anglers. There were even some flurried reports of yellowfin tuna from 40- to 60-pounds taken southeast of Montauk point as well.”
Chris Albronda (@montauk_fishing) also has the scoop on all things fishing in Montauk:
“The striped bass fishing continues to impress this week, they are eating everything from live bait to metals. We are seeing a lot of fish in the high fifty-pound range. Black sea bass fishing is lights out, so you can expect to get your limit of jumbos on the sea bass grounds. Additionally, porgies have been plentiful and large, and fluke fishing is really on fire. Offshore, there are plenty of sharks and tuna to be caught.”
Steven Sponza at Wego Fishing Bait and Tackle in Southold reports:
“Weakfish are still hanging around in numbers in Peconic Bay and there are some beautiful specimens to be had. Porgy fishing remains productive in the Noyack Bay area. The weakfish are favoring squid strips for bait. Also, blowfish (northern puffers) are showing up in numbers, along with snapper and cocktail bluefish to provide some excitement for the kids. Blue claw crabs are around in good numbers as well. Striped bass are biting on the Sound-side beaches out east towards Orient during mornings and evenings, and some schoolies can be found around sunset in the creeks; but if bigger bass and blues pique your interest, deep water around Plum Gut and Block Island will be the best options.”
John Sansonetti at Freeport Bait and Tackle reports:
“Fluke fishing is picking up off the south shore at Hempstead Reef and McAllister Grounds. Anglers targeting sea bass are doing well too, and there’s lots of cobia beneath bunker schools out front of Jones and Long Beach. There are also big porgies coming from the reefs on clams, squid and spearing. If you do hit the reefs and wrecks, bring epoxy and diamond jigs to mimic rain bait, because spanish mackerel are starting to show up in numbers.” Stop by the shop en route to the water!
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Long Island Fishing Forecast
Although I’m not living on Long Island these days, I long for the occasional visits where I can fish with friends and get out on some of my longtime favorite boats. Fishing in the surf is going to pick up even more as August rolls around, and although there will be the occasional slow outing, the other fishing options are seemingly endless. Changing up either your target species or the time of day you’re fishing is one way to keep a bent rod and explore new options. Stripers are around, but they require hard work to catch. If you’re on the beach, try slow-rolling tins across the sandy bottom or digging up some sand crabs and throwing them on a circle hook in the foamy wash. Otherwise, nearby inlets should hold a few bluefish or bass while the deeper back bays, wrecks and reefs provide steady bottom fishing. Whatever you decide to fish for this week, stay safe, respect each other and respect the water.