Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- November 17, 2022

Bunker pods begin to thin out, school and slot bass crush peanuts and silversides in the inlets, and tautog fishing produces double-digit catches.

It’s been another great week of fishing on Long Island. There are still acres of slot bass beneath bunker pods stretching across the west end from Rockaway to Robert Moses. If you can find the bait, it’s almost guaranteed there will be bass with them, although the bait has slightly thinned out. Super Strike Little Neck poppers, Musky Mania Docs, Game On X-Walks and Tsunami Talkin’ Poppers are just a few of the topwater plugs doing the job on these slot fish. When they aren’t cooperating on top, live lining a bunker and letting it swim to the bottom will find bigger fish that are less willing to budge for their food.

There was also an increased presence in peanut bunker this week around the Rockaways and Jamaica Bay, so don’t leave the dock without a healthy mix of topwaters and smaller resin jigs or soft plastics in the event that the bunker you find are juvenile.

Almost exactly one year ago today, bass fishing was still on fire inside Jamaica Bay. On November 18th 2021, I joined my friends Karl Neumann and Chris Landry on what would be my final west end striper outing as a New Yorker. You can read more about that trip in my piece titled “The Send Off” in the November/December issue of On The Water Magazine. What I want to cover is the sheer volume of fish we experienced, and how that bite differed from the current state of striper fishing in Western Long Island and NYC.

By this time last year, stripers were much smaller on average, with most of the fish inside the bay measuring around 25-inches or so. When I went out with Chris and Karl, we hit the water at sunrise and the birds told us exactly where to go. They were on much smaller bait, peanut bunker and silversides mostly, which led to a solid topwater bite with spooks and small resin jigs retrieved shallow.

This is one of 100+ bass that Chris, Karl and I caught on November 18th, 2021. The bay was on fire. (Photo: @bkanglers)

We played catch and release with mid-20-inch class fish all morning. But this year, it appears that most of the bass around Long Island’s west end are slot or over-slot fish feeding on adult bunker. Each year since 2019 seems to have brought more menhaden than the last, and with the recent waves of warm weather, it’s no wonder that the larger baitfish have stuck around. There has been a noticeable shift in the bass fishing over the past week or two, though. A majority of the fish being caught out front were well over the slot up until this week, when stiff southwest winds churned up the bottom and made fishing and locating bait a bit more challenging. Air and water temperatures have been dropping, bunker have continued pushing south, and some of those larger bass have moved on as a result.

The sand eel bite on the south shore seems to have died off after a steady month or so of quality fishing around Long Beach and Jones Beach. But just because they’re gone now doesn’t eliminate the possibility of another school hitting south shore beaches, which could potentially drag out the striper bite into mid-December. If the sand eels do come back in, it’ll be time to fish with diamond jigs, teasers and soft plastics like Joe Baggs or Tsunami sand eels. As cold as it gets in December, there’s nothing like standing on an empty beach in the warm sun and casting into the breakers. The possibility of the last fish of the season increases, and even though their size decreases, those fish are of equal importance to the slots and over-slots being caught out front right now.

Tautog fishing has been good, but because I haven’t been actively targeting blackfish during my brief trips to Long Island, I’ll leave that reporting to the Captains and shops who are on the front lines of the fishery.

From the Boats

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

“Togging remains consistent with lots of fish coming over the rails when the tide cooperates. There were a couple of slower trips here and there, but most days we are putting a nice catch together. We have also been seeing an abundance of stripers in the area we are fishing, making a few drifts on the way home and putting slot sized keepers in the boat. The highlight of the week was the first double-digit tog of the season, caught by Rafa, which weighed in just over 10-pounds. We will continue black fishing daily at 6 a.m. by reservation only.” Call/text the Gypsea (516) 659-3814 for information and availability.

There has been some high quality tautog fishing aboard the Gypsea this past week. (@gypseacharters)

Captain Vinnie of Karen Ann Charters in Jamaica Bay reports:

“There are some cow bass still swimming among the slots and bunker pods. My mate, Roger, caught a 59-pounder on Monday and our afternoon charter caught nearly 80 slot bass all on topwater lures like Super Strike poppers. We will keep fishing out front as long as the bunker are here and conditions allow.” Call/text Captain Vinnie (516) 728-6952 for more information and availability.

Slot bass are in thick along the south shore this week. (@karenannchartersny)

Sound Bound Charters in New Rochelle and Mamaroneck reports:

“Captain Danny called in another “one stop shop” day of fishing aboard the Sound Bound Star this week. It was a mixed bag trip that saw big porgies and sea bass flying over the rails with no lull in the action all day despite windy conditions. Even a few blackfish wound up in the buckets! Worms and clams got it done, but you could have dropped a bare hook down there and caught them on this trip. All anglers went home with big smiles and big bags of fillets. The 80-foot Sound Bound Star sails Thursday through Sunday at 8 a.m. from New Rochelle.”

The Super Hawk in Point Lookout reports that even though temperatures have dropped off a bit, the bottom fishing has not! Big sea bass and jumbo porgies continue to hit the deck in numbers during offshore wreck trips, and there are no signs of the bite slowing anytime soon. Cod and pollock have become a more common catch as of late, too. With the weather getting colder, the conditions are bit more extreme, so dress appropriately and pack extra layers if you plan to take one of their offshore wreck trips. Check out superhawkfishing.com for more information on the frequency and timing of their trips, which are heading out almost daily.

The Super Hawk remains on the meat with their full day offshore wreck trips.

From the Shops

Jack’s Bait and Tackle in City Island, Bronx reports:

“Blackfishing has been good in the Western Sound, but the porgies are pretty much all gone, they’ve moved out to deeper water. Believe it or not some guys are still out there getting bluefish but they’re very scattered, not much of a consistent bite. Only a handful of stripers have been reported by local surfcasters this week, and they’re pretty much all catching on live eels; the same thing goes for the boat guys, but most boat fishermen right now are targeting blackfish.”

Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside reports:

“Last week Captain Joe Leggio got it done for Joe, Alvin, John & Nelson. They caught a limit of blackfish on green crabs and an 8-pound cod, and proceeded to catch 5 keeper bass on the bunker schools afterwards. Plenty of good fishing still going on, and plenty of options!”

Brandon at Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh reports:

“A couple schoolies were hitting on the beaches recently, but lots of weeds are on the beach due to excessive wind. Robert Moses fished well earlier this week too, but again, it was lots of schoolies. The fall weather is slowly pushing fish south. Big bass were blitzing right inside Jones Inlet when we came back from a trip out front, and there were some slot fish mixed in there. They hit anything we threw at them. It was especially cool seeing bass swim just below the boat as we drifted over the school after watching them blow up on peanut bunker in shallow water. Later in the week, I got on the boat and found bunker out front but there were not many signs of life under them. Stripers aside, blackfishing is pretty good in the bay still, and the bite is getting slightly better on the reefs.”

Brandon Weitz at Causeway Bait and Tackle shared this picture of a nice bass he caught on topwater around bunker schools earlier this week.

Paul McCain at River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin reports:

“Freshwater fishing had been good, particularly the Nissequogue and Connetquot Rivers, which are both producing quality trout. Stocked trout ponds are fishing well, but it’s been very windy this week and makes casting with light line or fly line difficult. In other news, I went down to the beaches with my friends Mike and Kenny, and there were big bass blitzes in the middle of our local inlet, we just could not reach them. The same scenario unfolded in the surf shortly thereafter, with bass rolling just out of reach. There were two separate bodies of fish, I think they were feeding on spearing in the inlet, but it seemed like they were hitting on bunker in the surf.”

Freeport Bait and Tackle reports:

“Tautog fishing is decent by the bridges still, but they’ve been getting hammered by anglers this fall. Some guys are getting bass in the back bays with an occasional bluefish, but the beach bite hasn’t developed like it was a few weeks back on the sand eels. Boats are still doing very well on bunker pods, with most anglers throwing Super Strike poppers, but there are still some big fish being caught on live bunker too.”

Western Long Island/NYC Fishing Forecast

Tautog fishing sounds like the bite has finally shifted to deeper waters. Double digit tog were reported by boats on both the east and west ends this week, so it might be time to leave those back bay bridges in search of a more productive bite.

Striped bass are still sticking to the bunker schools out front, but with all the silversides and peanuts leaving the bays on the ebb tide, there’s a good chance that bass will begin hitting smaller lures like resin jigs and diamond jigs as the bunker schools dissipate. If you’re throwing tins and casting jigs, don’t be surprised if you bump into a few bluefish mixed in with the bass. Surfcasters are hoping for another push of sand eels to trigger that late-season beach bite to end on a high note, but only time will tell if the sand eels will return.

Offshore wrecks continue to produce big sea bass and porgies, providing anglers with plenty of quality meat for their efforts through the cold. That bite will likely continue into mid-December, before the sea bass fishing drops off and the season closes one December 31.

Freshwater fishing will soon be a more viable option, but for now, there’s enough action to keep busy before the ultralight tackle and trout gear comes out.

Wherever this week finds you fishing, respect each other, respect the fish, be safe and fish hard. Catch you next week!

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