It’s mid-September, which means the calm of summer’s September has passed.
The Fall Run is kicking into gear island-wide as reports of albies improve and striped bass fishing picks up steam. Until last week, fluke had been the primary target across much of Long Island, but as weather worsens and water temperatures cool, striper fishermen come out of the woodwork.
September is notorious for delivering a few residual tropical storms and hurricanes to the northeast, which will deter a majority of anglers, namely boat fishermen, from taking to the water on some of the fishiest days of the migration. Long Island sits perfectly in the path of storms hugging the coast as they travel north, so these are opportunities to push your limits and catch some quality fish while you’re at it. However, I can’t stress enough the importance of planning for the worst-case scenario. Plan appropriately for the wind, weather and surf conditions and you’ll have a blast out there.
There’s so much good fishing to be had from the North Shore to South Shore and everywhere in between. The early Fall sees a wide variety of bait moving en masse around inlets and open beaches on both shores, where current decides the direction of travel for these schools rather than the fish themselves.
Looking for Tim Regan’s Eastern Long Island Fishing Report? Read about the bite around Suffolk County and The Forks here!
When the wind is blowing good, I leave the fluke bite alone. The bottom gets churned up which inhibits visibility, making it tough to catch fluke unless you drop your sinker on its head. However, fishing for striped bass and bluefish is usually good under these conditions, but especially with cloud cover.
The bays are a great place to start the search for stripers and blues, especially immediately inside the inlet. Metals like Kastmasters, Krocodile spoons and Luhr Jensens will mimic the smaller forage in the water by reflecting light as they’re retrieved. On the cloudier, choppy days though, something that illicits sound and/or vibration will be more likely to entice a bite. I still favor throwing Super Strike Little Neck poppers and Gibbs Polaris poppers from the jetties when it’s blowing hard; something about the popper throwing water in larger surf seems to get the blues riled up (not that it takes much work to excite bluefish).
In other news, weakfish are making a strong showing on the North shore. Most of the consistent action remains East of the Nassau/Suffolk divide, but Jamaica Bay is also a great place to look for these remarkably iridescent fish. Try jigging soft plastics through deep pockets in channels that have good current, because weakfish will stack up and aggressively strike paddletails that get pushed by in the current. Just make sure to keep the drag a little bit loose if you want to keep them pinned; weakfish are named not for their own strength, but the minimal strength of their paper-thin mouths.
It won’t be long before the weakfish bite dies off, leaving us with several species of hardtails to target along with the usual suspects (bass and blues).
Albies are in the Long Island Sound, and will likely remain there until late October, if not later. The Sound fishes differently than Long Island’s south shore. With rockier shorelines and hulking boulders making up much of the structure, it differs vastly from the shoaled out, sandy south shore beaches. The water also takes longer to warm here each spring, which means that it will take longer to cool as well; this is why even the Eastern Sound sees good fishing for albies and blues until November in some cases.
The Western Sound striper bite will be picking up steam in the next week or so, and with albies keyed in on the peanuts and rain bait already present, striped bass will likely be slurping up smaller offerings. Try smaller swimming plugs like Yo-Zuri Mag Darters, Rapala X-Raps and other small- to mid-size offerings when targeting stripers in the surf, but don’t be surprised if you can’t buy a bite at first. That rain bait will get bigger in the coming weeks, so until then, keep some Deadly Dicks, Fat Cow jigs and other enticing offerings on hand that will allow you to cast long distances and work different levels of the water column.
If you’re looking for a true sign that the fluke bite has slowed and the Fall Run has begun, here’s the report from Western Long Island fluke fanatics, Gypsea Charters, who have shifted gears this past week.
From the Boats
Captain Josh of Gypsea Charters in Howard Beach, Queens reports:
“The striper bite has been very consistent with limits of slot size fish each trip, and numerous over slots released for another day. The cooler temperatures only mean fishing will get better and better. We will be striped bass fishing by reservation only until blackfish (tautog) season opens on 10/15.” Call or text (516)659-3814 to make reservations, which are a must.
Captain Rich Colombo of Rockfish Charters in Brooklyn reports:
“This recent full moon brought a strange lull in the action for giant bluefin and striped bass. We are still finding the fish but we’re grinding out bass catches, and we haven’t had hooked any big bluefin recently. The season is in a transition phase as smaller bait begins to move in and bass begin to move south, and we’re ready for a big push of stripers from the north over the next week or so.” Call/text Captain Rich for booking and more information (347)661-4501.
Captain Vinnie of Karen Ann Charters in Jamaica Bay reports:
“Weakfish invaded the Bay this week. There’s been a nice body of these sea trout gorging on the “bait du jour” a.k.a. peanut bunker. When throwing our casts nets for bait, we’ve had finger mullet and Spot in the haul. It looks like the Fall cast of characters are getting in place for the migration.” Call or text Captain Vinnie for reservations: (516)728-6952.
Sound Bound Charters in New Rochelle and Mamaroneck reports a decent porgy bite over the past week, but most of the bluefish seem to have moved on. Porgy fishing has been good though, moreso in terms of quality over quantity. The fish are biting on strip bait, worms and jigs.
That’s the best kind of porgy fishing; nonstop action gets old when you’re catching tiny throwbacks, but a handful of slab scup are great for the table and can be prepared a dozen plus ways.
Point Lookout’s Super Hawk reports near excellent fishing for sea bass and scup with a keeper fluke here and there. This reflects what’s going on around much of the Island as we hit a transition period in the fishing season. The fishing will slowly move to deeper water, with the exception of some inshore species biting in the bays. The Super Hawk is sailing daily on family friendly trips, and they consistently find knot-head black sea bass like it’s nothing. Learn more at superhawkfishing.com.
Meet in the middle and make it easier to link up with friends on the Island; Captree is a fantastic spot to gather whether to launch kayaks, relax by the beach or hop on a charter.
Captree’s Laura Lee reports:
“Wednesday’s 7 a.m. trip caught 290 sea bass, 12 fluke to 6.5lbs, 350 big porgies, 55 mackerel, 1 false albacore, 6 red hake, and 2 bluefish. The 1 p.m. local trip (inside the inlet) caught 63 fluke, 45 sea bass, 2 blues, 1 porgy and 18 sea robins. Later on, the 6PM Express caught 296 sea bass, 87 porgies, 298 mackerel and 52 bluefish.”
From the Shops
Jacks Bait and Tackle in City Island, Bronx reports:
“Porgy fishing is the hot bite around here this week and we get them on clams, sandworms, bloodworms, jigs; you name it. Stripers have been showing up here and there, mostly for guys fishing with eels. Bluefish reports have been scattered as they start to slowly move out of the Sound. At this point, the Fall Run is slowly beginning and we’re waiting for blackfish season, which in the Long Island Sound begins on 10/11 (by NY Regulations). The tautog regulations in the Sound differ from areas south of Long Island, so please follow those parameters closely. Beginning on October 11th, anglers can keep 3 fish at 16 inches”
Brandon at Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh reports:
“Fluke fishing slowed down a bit with the offshore storm but it’s picked up again, mainly inside the inlets. Fluke are biting really well in the warmer, shallow waters but the wrecks and reefs have quieted down. Blackfish are being caught by guys fishing for fluke around bridges in the back bays; it’s all catch and release right now as the season hasn’t started yet, but that’s a great sign for the tautog opener. Striped bass are in the bays and salt marshes, and big 30-pounders are coming on eels at night.
Offshore, I got some yellowfin 20-30 miles outside of Jones Inlet. I caught 8 yellowfin with my buddies, and we saw what must have been hundreds if not thousands of albies only 25 miles out. We’re hoping those fish push closer, because we’re ready with JoeBaggs resins and Deadly Dicks.”
Paul McCain at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin reports:
“Multi species back bay trips. We had a couple bluefish, 4 or 5 fluke and a Spanish mackerel on the incoming tide. I was out on my boat and had bluefish and fluke of all sizes, caught some nice ones mixed in with small sea bass and sea robins. Landed 6 or 7 blues when they moved in with the incoming tide. Bays are still loaded with peanut bunker and spearing.
Freshwater fishing is doing well in the way of largemouth, yellow perch and black crappie in the ponds. The Connetquot was fishing decent this week after some scattered rain, but the action was almost all on ant flies!” Stop into the shop and learn a thing or two about fly fishing from Paul, or pick up some local knowledge with a batch of hand-tied flies!
Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside reports:
“Bill Duggan & Tony Graine took a ride to the Mud Hole on Sunday and had some excellent mahi action on the troll. Small squid lures with a strip did the trick. Meanwhile, Eli Solomon caught some topwater stripers on small Madd Mantis pencil poppers & Smack It poppers during an evening trip yesterday with Barbara Solomon & Pete Cefai. Then again on Tuesday, the Solomons were at it again with more back bay plugged striped bass. The “Striper Snipers” have been using topwater plugs by Yo-Zuri & Smack It under cloudy and overcast skies.”
Looking for Tim Regan’s Eastern Long Island Fishing Report? Read about the bite around Suffolk County and The Forks here!
Want to get in on the bite? Find an OTW-approved Charter Fishing Captain around Long Island or NYC!
Western Long Island/NYC Fishing Forecast
Albies should be arriving almost any day now. Boat fishermen are seeing them just offshore, and reports continue to trickle in from the Long Island Sound and points east of Nassau.
Striped bass are in the back bays at night, and soon enough, water temperatures will cool enough to create a good beach bite. If the amounts of bait in the back bays from Jamaica to Jones Beach are any indication of the Fall Run ahead, it looks like it’s going to be a good one. Last year, we had diaper stripers closing out the Fall Run on the open beaches in December. That’s a long way off, but it will come quickly. Spend as much time as you can out there before the late-fall and winter weather conditions begin to turn more grim.
Tautog fishing should be picking up in the weeks to come, so don’t be surprised if you catch one accidentally; just be sure to throw it back. The season opens on 10/15 for New York waters, except for the Long Island Sound which opens four days earlier on 10/11. The minimum keeper size is 16 inches statewide, and the Long Island Sound limit is 3 fish while the New York/ocean limit is 4 fish; remember, these regulations are subject to change, so check them out before you go fishing, and make sure you have your recreational fishing registration/permit!
This week, hit the beaches during the early morning for a possible chance at some albies or Spanish mackerel. Fish the bays during the day by boat or kayak to catch some decent fluke if you’re looking for a fun bite, or use the night hours to creep around the back bays in search of striped bass.
Be safe out there, respect each other and respect the water.
Catch you next week.