Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- September 1, 2022

Fluke fishing remains stellar to the south, but it's slowed in the Sound, meanwhile needlefish and bluefish of all sizes flood south shore back bays and the L.I. Sound.

Fishing is great around Labor Day Weekend. Despite the crowds, I always tried to cut out some time for myself on the water before spending the weekend with friends and family. Sometimes, I don’t know which way to turn; that can be attributed to both my poor attention span and an eagerness to always be fishing for something different. As we round the corner on August into September, one of my favorite things to do is take out the fly rod and hit the creeks and ponds.

Before you close this report because it starts with the picture of a bluegill, I implore you to read on.

Sunfish and largemouth bass will readily hit most flies in the summertime.

As a novice fly angler, I still view fly fishing as a challenge and a way of changing the pace of summer fishing. Freshwater is fun and relaxing, but in the first week of September I like to hit the salt with my 5-weight for some snapper bluefish, and another frequent flyer of the local harbors: needlefish.

When I came across a school of peanut bunker in a brackish marina on Long Island, they were cornered by needlefish on the surface with snappers beneath. This needlefish ate a Chocklett’s Gummy Minnow on the 5 wt.

But almost as soon as I pick up the 5-weight, I put it down again. When needlefish are in, striped bass feed on them on the surface (or just below the surface).

So if you’re hitting the beaches this time of year for some striper action, try the night bite, and throw— you guessed it— needlefish!

The subtle action of a needlefish plug will entice striped bass of all sizes, and they’re a super basic lure to use for surfcasters. You need not impart any action to the rod with needlefish, simply cast, retrieve and repeat with a slow and steady reeling speed.

In September’s opening week, I seldom fished for striped bass. Bluefish were more willing to chew most of the time, and they can still be targeted in back bays as well as out front. It’s almost more exciting than normal bluefishing, because when snappers and cocktails are mixed in, you can cast a popper and catch a 2-pounder, then catch a 12-pounder on the next cast. That will grab your attention pretty damn quick.

Kayak fishing is another great way to stay on the bite. With the freedom to move about the back bays, and even into open water (whether the Atlantic or the L.I. Sound), there’s always fish willing to chew. I enjoyed dropping my albie jigs to the bottom for porgies and sea bass around bridges on the West End, but I most often used soft plastics. This time of year, one little adjustment to a lure can change the course of an entire outing. When it’s a slow pick while bottom fishing, I found that a simple color change of my soft plastics sometimes lead to more, or bigger fish biting.

Making adjustments to your lures on the fly can be tough, but it’s the minor tweaks that are the difference makers. Once while fishing for fluke and sea bass, I struggled to catch anything larger than a few 6-inch black sea bass in one of my normally productive spots. I changed colors of the Gulp I was using from chartreuse to white, and the next few fish that came up were probably double the size of the dinks. Still a short sea bass, but we’re making improvements.

After a handful of 12-inch sea bass, I switched to some white paddletails that I had soaked in Gulp juice overnight. Same thing, a few short sea bass. I noticed that the paddletails were being torn off of my swimbaits down there, so out of curiosity, I snipped a few of the tails before dropping them down. The tails were now slightly tapered to a fine point, so they lacked any sort of kicking action in the moving current.

One of the many short sea bass that took my paddletails before I snipped off the tails for an experiment.

But, each drop from then on, I proceeded to catch 15- to 16-inch sea bass, which are right around the keeper mark, although I didn’t plan to keep any. I had discovered through trial and error though, that on this day, the bigger fish preferred a narrow, finesse-profile soft plastic that provided little to no action.

The reason I share this, is because it may help you on your own exploratory fishing excursions. Whether it’s keeping some single hooks on you for a quick change while fishing the surf for stripers, or using a sharpie to draw temporary eyes onto a jighead (which I have done) while targeting lake trout and smallies, there are last-minute adjustments we can make to try and trigger a bite. When there are fish in the area, don’t leave because they “won’t chew”; instead, maintain confidence in the bait(s) you’re fishing with, and play around with possible tweaks to your existing lures.

In fishing, the little things we sometimes overlook, like color or shape, make the biggest difference.

From the Captains

Captain Josh of Gypsea Charters in Howard Beach, Queens reports:

“Over the course of the last week, fluke fishing has remained excellent on most trips. Countless throwbacks keeping everyone busy with quality keepers hitting the deck each trip. Those fishing with bucktails and Gulp have been able to nail limit catches on most trips. The highlight of the week was Jamaal H. Sr. nailing a 10-pound, 4-ounce doormat (see last week’s report). The season is winding down, but the fishing remains phenomenal.” Call or text (516)659-3814 for reservations, they are a must!

This is one of several limits of large fluke caught aboard the Gypsea this week.

Captain Vinnie of Karen Ann Charters in Jamaica Bay reports:

“Bluefin tuna fishing has been spotty at best, we had one fish recently. Decent striper fishing continues up in New York harbor on bunker, eels and flutter spoons. Meanwhile out in J-Bay the fishing is spectacular. Today I caught over 100 fish, with probably 35 striped bass in the mix. Most were under slots, but we had lots of big, gator blues as well to keep things interesting. They’re biting on jigs and swimming plugs mostly. We’re sailing twice a day, call (516) 728-6952 to book a trip or go to karenanncharters.com for more information.

Captain Vinnie shared this picture of a recent bass caught aboard Karen Ann Charters.

Sound Bound Charters out of New Rochelle and Mamaroneck reports:

The Sound Bound fleet has been targeting fluke and bluefish this week. Their recent bluefish jigging trip was a huge success, and fluke fishing with bait has been slower than past weeks but there are plenty of keepers still in the mix. Sound Bound sails daily, and they are also capitalizing on the excellent porgy fishing when not after bluefish or fluke.

To meet in the middle between Nassau and Suffolk, Captree is a great spot.

Captree’s Laura Lee reports:

“On Wednesday this week, the 7 a.m. Express caught 138 fluke, 225 sea bass, 57 porgies, 3 triggerfish and 31 sea robins. The 8 a.m. trip caught 157 Fluke, 152 Sea Bass, 105 Porgies, 6 Triggerfish, and 10 Sea Robins. The 1 p.m. Ocean Express caught 13 fluke, 63 sea bass, 92 porgies, 1 triggerfish and 9 sea robins. At 2 p.m. the Local caught 42 fluke, 49 sea bass, 1 kingfish, 1 capeshark and 2 sea robins. At 6 p.m. they caught 143 sea bass, 245 porgies, 8 blues, 16 mackerel and 17 sea robins.

This morning (Thursday), the 7 a.m. Ocean Express caught 73 fluke, 114 sea bass, 57 porgies, 3 triggerfish and 14 sea robins.  The 8 a.m. trip caught 75 Fluke, 11 Porgies, 4 Bonita, 55 Sea Bass, 7 Triggerfish, and 2 Bluefish.”

From the Shops

Jacks Bait and Tackle in City Island, Bronx reports:

“Porgies and fluke are biting well, and lots of anglers are still getting big blues, although there’s reports of them in thick to the East. The striped bass fishing is hit or miss, but they can be tricked with bunker. The only problem with fishing the bunker for bass, is any bluefish around will likely beat the bass to it. At night, diamond jigs are working well for bluefish in the Sound with bass in the mix, and large poppers will catch bluefish right around dusk. We have spearing and squid which seem to be working great for the fluke, and fresh bunker comes in daily.”

Brandon at Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh reports:

“Cobia fishing has slowed a lot, we haven’t had any in the shop this week. Fluking definitely picked up though, there’s plenty of keeper fish around Jones Inlet, but you’ll find them in the bay too. The keepers are coming on live killies in the bays, meanwhile the reefs seem to be producing all their keepers on Gulp. Bluefish are loaded in the bays around bridges as well, where small bait is funneled down. It’s been leading to some awesome topwater feeds, and you might even find some schoolie bass mixed in with the blues. Reports of albies and bonito further east are slowly creeping this way so we’re ready for the hardtails. As far as offshore, the mahi and Yellowfin bites have been good on jigs, and plenty of yellows are still coming on poppers.”

Paul McCain of River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin reports:

“Snapper blues everywhere! I camped in Heckscher Park with my wife who loves snappers, and we had a blast. We fished with very light spinning tackle and small poppers. We also caught a lot of needlefish, there were tons of them- more than I’ve ever seen. They’re a fun time with a fly rod too, especially the bigger ones.

The North Shore is flooded with blues. Striped bass are around but the water is very warm, so fishing late at night is the name of the game. Weakfish have been showing up around Robert Moses recently, for anglers using flies and soft plastics. On the freshwater front, the Connetquot River is very low, but is fishing well; otherwise trout fishing is dead until Fall with these warm water temperatures and the lack of rain. Even the bass ponds are scary low and weeded up.”

John Sansonetti at Freeport Bait and Tackle reports:

“Guys are catching albies and bonito out a couple miles, but there’s lots of bluefish around the bridges biting on anything you can get in front of them. Cobia, although they’re spotty, are much closer to shore now. They’ve been biting on eels in the surf, with one customer catching 3 the other day by Point Lookout. The fluke bite is real hot, I weighed an 11-pounder at the shop this week that was caught on live peanut bunker in a channel around Jones Inlet. Atlantic Beach reef is producing quality fish too, with Gulp in the blue fuse and nuclear chicken colors working best. My friend and customer, Carlos, also won Hooks for Heroes tournament this week with 8.48-pound fluke caught on a live killie in the bay.” Stop into the shop for your live killies! They are an absolutely deadly fluke bait.

And lastly, something that caught my attention I just couldn’t help but mention:

Earlier this week on the south shore, surf angler Freddie “Frankiifish” Torres caught a surprise while fishing chunked bait in the surf. He reeled in a young hammerhead shark.

Freddie Torres with his hammerhead shark. This is the second one he and his friends have caught this summer. (@ny_frankiifish)

Something tells me we’ll be seeing more of these on Long Island in the coming years.

Western Long Island/NYC Fishing Forecast

Needlefish and snapper blues have filled in the marinas and back bays. The easiest way to catch them is to throw flies, small Kastmasters on 5-pound line (at the most). They’ll stick around until things start to cool off around here.

On the front of striped bass, the best way to find them is targeting deep, moving water. They’ll be tough to trick into feeding mid-day, but as more schools of peanut bunker begin to flood the western Long Island Sound and the south shore, we’ll be looking down the barrel of some fantastic fall run bass fishing.

It doesn’t sound like we’ll have to wait long for albies to become an easy shoreline target. Until then, throw some eels in the surf during the early morning hours for the chance at a cobia or maybe a lingering striped bass. That cobia bite is an exciting and unique opportunity that’s new to us on Long Island.

Take a kid fishing this Labor Day weekend. There’s no better way to get a young one involved in the sport than giving them a rod with a kastmaster, teaching them to cast, and watching the smiles that ensue when they reel one in. With the cocktail blues and needlefish around, it shouldn’t take too much effort.

Most of all, remember to use caution on the water this weekend. It’s the last hoorah of summer, so make it a good one.

Be safe, respect each other, respect the water, and fish hard.

Catch you next week.

1 thought on “Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- September 1, 2022

  1. peter okeefe

    There is no more knowlegdable fisherman I know of than capt Vinnie of the karen Anne…and for bigger boats up north the Sound Bound rocks

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