Eastern Long Island Fishing Report- May 18, 2023

Stripers and blues hit topwater plugs in the surf, the strong weakfish run continues and fluke fishing improved despite some unfavorable conditions.

Eastern Long Island Fishing Report

  • 1 million bluefish off the coast.
  • Insane surf bite for stripers and bluefish.
  • Tiderunner weakfish getting caught this week.
  • Scup bite is on fire.
  • Giant bluefin have been spotted out east.
  • Decent bottomfishing for fluke. Blowfish arrive. Out-of-season sea bass are biting.

Capt. Dave Flanagan of North Island Fly in Northport reports:

“Jerry and I started the week with some sight fishing opportunities. We picked a bunch of schoolies that day. The following day, Steph and James joined me to do some of the same. The sandeels were in town, making for an awesome bite. They caught a lot of bass which were all super chunky.

Monday was EVEN BETTER. Brian joined me for the bluefish invasion, to welcome them to town. After tightening some lines on a bunch of those, we picked through a bunch of teen stripers, and finished the day with one bass that bottomed out the thirty-pound boga.” Check out Dave’s website to book him for a charter at northislandfly.com.

Brian joined Dave of North Island Fly and they caught a bunch of really good stripers and blues at the beginning of this week. (@northislandfly)
North Island Fly client, Steph, with a nice bass she caught on the fly earlier in the week. (@northislandfly)

Captain Stu Paterson of Northport Charters reports: 

“Stripers showed up in my marina last week, with plenty of peanut bunker to keep them well fed. There was a good jig bite wherein I caught keepers to 33 inches in the LI Sound. The fluke bite produced fish to four pounds, and will improve daily as more flounder enter our waters.” Call/text Stu at 631-707-3266 or check out Stu’s website to book a trip: northportcharters.com.

The Celtic Quest Fishing Fleet of Jamesport reports: 

“There’s an awesome variety of fish out there right now. Yesterday we brought aboard a number of gator blues, some monster porgies, and weakfish to boot. The rest of the week was on par with this, besides the one day we had to cancel. Port Jefferson also produced well, with a lot of very large porgies come up and going home with our anglers. We even picked a large sea bass or two, which we had to throw back.” Call them at 631-928-3926 for booking info, or check the website/Facebook for more info.

Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:

“It’s already the middle of May, but it feels like Spring is just beginning. Solid runs of striped bass, bluefish, weakfish, and fluke are all over the local waters. The grand slam is finally possible again! Striped bass runs have been full of big, healthy fish. They’re chasing schools of bait all over the place and holding steady. Runs of massive bluefish have come through and destroyed just about every popper they’ve seen. Fish over 10 pounds are common. Weakfish runs are full of hefty fish, running tides and ripping drags. The fluke fishing has been phenomenal for the folks going for them right now. There are even stacks of jumbo porgies and blowfish coming over the rails. This fishing season is looking like it’ll be another great one. 

The lakes and rivers are teeming with life. Bass, pickerel, sunfish, and  perch are all hungry and eager to eat. The early morning and sunset hours are the best times to hit the local freshwater. Topwater lures and moving baits will pick fish for you the entire time. Carp are doing their carp things, and they love to chase a fly around. The bug hatches are going off, creating some phenomenal opportunities; the rivers are covered in bug action for the morning and evening.”


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Capt. Phil of Fishy Business in Orient reports:

“The striper bite on the north shore is crazy. Everybody was hooked up on the stern just a couple hours ago. The G-Tech group got out with us yesterday and saw non-stop action with the bass, with beatiful slot fish and many overs going back. We finished up with a scup slam.” They sail out of Duryea’s in Orient. Give Phil a call to book a trip: 516-316-6967.

Captree Bait and Tackle reports:

“We weighed in a weakfish this week that went just under 7 pounds. Andy and his pal came in the day prior with a couple gator blues they kept. Fishing is good out here!”

Surfcasting guide Bernie Bass reports:

“It was an okay week in the surf. I picked a number of bass, and the bluefish have been providing nonstop action throughout the week. I’ll start targeting the night tides a bit more this week in search of that elusive cow bass.”

Rosie Fishing of Moriches Bay reports:

“We saw some excellent fluking this week, despite the tough conditions. Even with wind against tide, we managed our biggest fluke of the season so far at 7.2 pounds. They were mixed in with big bluefish. The following day was a good bite, until the south west wind shut the bite down. We’re sailing pretty regularly at this point, with some private charters booked, so give us a call for booking info: 631-905-5829. We’re also selling father’s day gift certificates, so give us a call!”

The Hampton Lady of Hampton Bays reports:

“The bite has been real strong this week. Mother’s day was excellent, with some nice combos coming up. Debbie and Hannah picked a nice fluke and weakfish to take home. Monday was a great day on the fluke front. The scup grounds were filled, and the fish were ferocious, with double headers ripping the rod out of your hands. We left them biting after we filled buckets.

Tuesday saw some excellent bluefish action, with everyone on board getting worn out by the bruisers. Bring your kids out for one of these trips… they’ll definitely sleep well that night. Yesterday was a bassing day. We landed on a pile of them, and picked some really nice fish. We’re running a deal: if you fish 3 times in May, the 4th trip is free. Every Thursday is a captain’s choice trip, where we’ll target whatever is biting best.” Text Capt. James for reservations: 631-521-3366. We’re sailing 6am-2pm.

There was a solid Mother’s Day bite on the Hampton Lady for Debbie and Hannah.

The Shinnecock Star in Hampton Bays reports:

“We didn’t pick any weakfish today, but we managed buckets full of porgies before heading home. The wind and that little cold snap made for some difficult fishing. Sunday’s crew was a light one, but we had plenty of fish. We picked a boat limit of weakfish, along with tons of porgies. We also had the first double header weakfish we’ve seen in some years. Some solid fluke came up as well. Saturday’s trip was very similar.” They’re sailing out of Oaklands Marina daily from 7am-2pm. Text or call Capt. John for info : 631-728-4563.

Double-header weakfish coming over the rail on the Shinnecock Star this week.

Chris Albronda from Montauk reports:

“Striped bass fishing was once again phenomenal this week. There was a nice mix of bluefish with them. It is a light tackle fisherman’s dream. In the surf, stripers are eating plugs, bucktails, metals… practically anything. Bigger fish are taking bigger baits. They’re being caught along the south side and around the point. At night, the Northside seems to be best. Fluking has been subpar, but that will change soon. There are a lot of sea bass on the fluke grounds currently, but they’re out of season. They’re huge. There’s also cod in the deeper water. Some giant bluefin have been spotted out here.

On the freshwater side, the lake out here is as good as it gets. Slow and low is doing the trick.” Give Chris a call at 631-830-3881 to book an awesome light tackle fishing adventure. He’s available Sundays and Mondays.

Montauk’s Viking Fleet reports:

“On Friday we sailed from Sag Harbor to target the peconic scup fishery. The day began tough, with some stripers and blues getting in the way of the meat (sounds like a good problem honestly). We moved around a ton, and picked a few medium porgies here and there. When we finally picked a spot to settle down, we had a good pick of jumbo scup. Some more blues and a weakfish came aboard before we finished.” Call the office to book at 631-668-5700, or book online at vikingfleet.com.

Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball reports:

“Jack joined me yesterday for a hike deep into the south side to find huge water. We hiked back, and found one big bluefish on a chartreuse darter. I managed on fish on a red and black glider, and then Jack started hammering fish on the super strike darter. One fish came off after bending out my treble. We had about a dozen fish around legal size, and dropped a few nice ones.

A few nights prior, Brian joined me on the south side. We caught one rat on a 3/4 ounce bucktail. We ran to the north side around dark, and found a bunch of rats around 10pm. The fish were hitting the rear hook, which could mean the bait was spearing. We had hits every cast, and the fish were fat.”

Eastern Long Island Fishing Forecast

A quick shoutout to S&S Bucktails, who will be closing their doors for good. From what I understand, the matriarch of the company passed away, so the company is dissolving. This was very sad news, and I’d just like to offer my condolences on behalf of myself and this magazine. I tie my own bucktails, but for years, if I ever needed one on the spot, I would only choose S&S, because they were the only ones I considered better than my own. It was an objectively superior product, with paint that didn’t chip; it was the first bucktail I’d seen utilize rattles, and the first to regularly utilize feathers. I caught my first 30+ pounder on an S&S bucktail in a raging Nor’easter on Montauk’s north side. It was the biggest fish anybody caught during that storm, and won me second place in a tournament. I’ve been a huge fan of their work ever since. It’s heart wrenching to see that such a loss can make somebody throw in the towel on their business, and I empathize with the owner entirely. I’m certain that all of Long Island, and much of the northeast will be feeling this loss as well. Be well Stan. Thanks for all the inspiration your work has given me, and all the fish you helped us catch over the years. I’m so sorry for your loss.

If anglers are looking for bucktails in the future, I’d point them to two small businesses that do what I consider the best work in the bucktail trade. Northbar Tackle, run by Larry Welcome, introduced me to the best bucktails that I’ve used. John Paduano is another Long Islander who makes bucktails in the same style as Larry. His company is Premium Bucktails, and that’s the perfect name for his work. In my opinion, these two dudes make the most productive bucktail jigs that you can buy. 

This week began with one of the most amazing fishy sights that I’ve ever seen. Clear water inundated the shoreline and I gazed into it, hoping to spot a passing striper or two. The water clarity remained pretty much the same throughout the entire week. As I look at the water now, it’s pretty typical compared to every other day: up front there’s a brown tinge in the waves that’s somewhat translucent, and then about 15 yards off the beach there is some incredibly clear blue green water. When the wind isn’t terrible, this water makes its way all the way to the beach; as the waves crash and the white water forms, the foam is this incredible color, almost too beautiful to describe. The aquamarine cascade looks rife with oxygen, and there seems to be no doubt that fish are right underneath it. When I see water that clear, it’s not even a question, the drone comes out immediately. Some wind and chop will always impede my camera’s view, but the resulting picture can be incredible nonetheless. 

A school of dolphins riding through the crystal clear waves earlier this week. (@southforksalt)

I lifted off and began searching the clear water up front for stripers. I saw some almost immediately; there weren’t many, but they looked pretty big, and I watched them closely as they swam slowly, parallel to shore.

After 15 minutes of observation, I thought I’d land the drone and take some casts. I tilted the camera up and began flying towards shore. I noticed shimmering on my screen’s periphery, so I stopped the drone, tilted up, and my jaw dropped. 

I was looking at a line of bluefish that filled my screen, easily 200 strong. 

A wolf pack of eastbound bluefish that seemingly spanned for miles along the south fork.

I spent the next twenty minutes surveying the scene. I flew east for a long distance, and then flew back, and did the same to the west. The line of bluefish was about 50 yards wide, and it did not end. I took a few videos, trying to portray the incredible numbers of fish I was seeing. Once I finished, it was time for the fun part: the catching. I put the drone away and got the rod ready. My popper twirled on the first cast, landing about 150 feet away. I cursed at my poor cast, right before the lure was attacked by like six bluefish at once. I landed a ten pound fish and launched another cast. Same thing, the super strike popper got hammered by a big blue; another quick release of a slightly larger fish. After that, the fish began acting a bit spooky. The clear water allowed me to see their behavior. The plug was being followed by like 5-10 fish every cast, and each fish took a turn nosing it and investigating it up close. The rest of the session, the fish would require a realistic presentation in order to hit my offering. Most of the rest of the hits came on the backside of waves, where I couldn’t see the explosions. The first blind hit would be a 15 pounder; as I worked the gator through the shorebreak, I saw a much larger bluefish tailing it. It might’ve been attempting to steal my lure from the smaller blue’s mouth. I tried to let that happen for about 5 seconds, but the odds of that occurring felt low. That fish must’ve been near twenty pounds.

I had my fill of large bluefish, and decided to target the stripers I had seen a half hour prior. I switched to a small rubber shad and picked a schoolie on the first cast. A bunch more casts were unproductive, until a bluefish bit me off. Then my reel failed; I’ll need a new line roller on my VS150. The groove in the roller was sharp enough to cut my braid, and I lost a decent fish. I switched to the fly for the next hour, and casted futilely for nothing.

That was one of the most exciting fishing experiences I’ve had in years… probably since the last great bluefish run on the south shore. In the 2016 fall run, we had gator blues to 20 pounds menacing the coast for weeks. I’ll never forget that action. My wife took a single cast during that run, hooking and landing a 19-pound bluefish. I love bragging about that.


I haven’t even gotten to the coolest part of the story. I had to keep taking breaks, basically to pinch myself and smile about how happy I was in this moment. I considered calling some friends. I looked to my right and left, and there wasn’t a single person within eyeshot. I’d keep this one to myself. I perused instagram quick, and saw that Sutton Lynch was seeing the same line of bluefish in Montauk. That would make this line of bluefish OVER THIRTY MILES LONG. Plus, Sutton saw his blues early in the day, and I was fishing around sunset. This behavior had been occurring for hours, suggesting that this line stretched wayyy farther than just thirty miles. Unreal.

I really wanted to flats fish on this day, but the conditions were terrible back there, with a 20+ MPH side wind. The next day I returned to the flats with an ideal wind that would give me some glassy water. I waded out far into the flats, on to some beautiful white sands, hoping that I would be able to see the dark backs of the stripers easily contrasted against the bottom. I chose a spot and stood there, and within the next five or 10 minutes I spotted what I thought was my first fish. It was a nice bass, easily over 20 pounds. It was moving against the tide, so I was pretty positive it was a fish. I casted ten feet away from it, and the fish sprinted towards the splash. I watched it run right up to my Holy Moley and inhale it. I stripped, and trout set, pulling the fly right out of its mouth. Even from sixty feet away, I could see the small ball of a fly come screaming out of the fish’s mouth. The fish looked at it for a couple seconds, befuddled, and decided it needed to get the heck outta there quickly.

The next two hours, my adrenaline was extremely high, making my whole body shake. The fish kept coming, and I kept trout setting the fly out of their mouths. I had eight eats out of 12 casts where I did the same friggin thing. Finally, I controlled myself and strip set on two fish, I came tight, raised my rod and began the fight, but the fish spit the hook both times within a couple seconds. Can’t win ‘em all. But man, that was the best sight fishing I’ve ever experienced, and my goodness was it exhilarating.

The rest of the week provided sight fishing opportunities in the surf. I didn’t expect that to happen but it did, making for even more amazing fishuations.

The surf was always a bit murky up front this week, but still translucent, and you could see through the water. About 15 yards out, the water was crystal clear. That’s where I was seeing bass. They were in schools, riding the crests of the large waves as they quickly moved east. The wind was picking up, building the surf as well. It was getting more difficult to see the fish, but I had about 25 minutes where these fish were riding waves and I was sight fishing them. Nothing really worked, except for two plugs. The stripers were going NUTS for my super strike popper. I kept seeing the hits, and pulling the popper away too quickly. The stripers were jumping out of the water to attack my plug. Once I couldn’t see the fish anymore, I started throwing stuff to fish the bottom. The only response I got was to a glider from Fight Lure Co. At the last second, while I was pulling my lure over the beach lip, I saw a ghostly body chase it up with a wave; next thing I saw was my lure come out of the water, a flash of the fish, and its broomtail kicking its body back below the berm.

Since then, I’ve been finding a mediocre surf bite daily around high tide. I say mediocre because the fish are really hard to convince. I’ll get one bite in a certain region, then cast fruitlessly for the next 45 minutes. Moving around helps a bit, but not much. It was a very fickle bite. Very cool, no less.

I’m looking to do way more sight fishing this week when I have the time. This is the worst work week of the year for me, so I’ll do my best to get out there. Awesome stuff starts happening whenever my work schedule is full, so I’ll keep my eyes peeled. You should too. Fish the heck out of this new moon. Try the big fish spots. We’ll see some huge bass caught from the surf this week. The weakfish bite has been insane, and I’m hopeful that will continue. It’s definitely an above average year for the weakfish. And the bluefish… stay here my friends. I’m not done with you yet.

Whatever you’re after, I hope you catch it. Good luck.

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