Eastern Long Island Fishing Report- May 25, 2023

Big bluefish still dominate the bays and are showing up in the surf, bottom fishing is productive for scup and kingfish, and larger fluke show up off the east end.

Eastern Long Island Fishing Report

  • Doormat fluke entering the arena. 1st double digit in Montauk.
  • Tiderunner weakfish bite going strong.
  • Both forks are having a banner bass year. Gator blues remain.
  • Great bottom fishing: tons of scup, among other species (sea bass, kingfish).

Captree Bait and Tackle reports:

“The Fishfinder found the fluke on Wednesday. With clean, clear water, we were able to pout a good catch together, with fluke to 4.5 pounds taken on a salmon-colored gulp. Some big blues are hitting the surf.”

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

“Jeff and I fed the bass an assortment of presentations yesterday. They were hitting topwater flies, closers off the bottom, and sipping sandeels off the surface. The The Supreme Shine crew got out with me the day prior, and we caught bluefish nonstop all day. The stripers hung out beneath the blues, but the gators hardly afforded flies a chance to even get down. Adam and Ted came out in some tougher conditions earlier in the week, and battled through them with fly rods. Ted got his first bass, and we put some nice bluefish on the boat. On Friday, Matt and his son Henry came out, and we did a number on the weakfish.” Check out Dave’s website to book him for a charter at northislandfly.com.

Henry hoists a nice North Shore weakfish with Dave Flanagan of North Island Fly.

The Peconic Star of Greenport reports:

“We’ve been putting together a great catch in the bays. We’ve been filling boat limits of scup to three pounds, and catching weakfish to eight pounds. Earlier in the week, the giant blues attacked, and we were able to put a couple keeper fluke on the boat. We’re fishing daily for jumbo porgies and weakfish at 7:30am, call ahead to make your reservation.”

Capt. Phil of Fishy Business in Orient reports:

“The Coronas group got out with us for an excellent day of fishing. There was a hot bass bite, with a limit taken and a good number of non-slots released. The Lewis group did just the same a couple days prior, with a few bonus bushels of jumbo scup.” They sail out of Duryea’s in Orient. Give Phil a call to book a trip.

Surfcasting guide Bernie Bass reports:

“This past week in the suds was just okay. There were bass biting on both the day and night tides, and I’ve been hunting them a good bit in the dark. It’s mostly just been small fish lately. I’m hoping to find some big girls as I venture toward some of my late May spots. The bluefish remained consistent this week, and started messing with me on the night tides. It was a bit chilly at night this week. I was catching on SP minnows and bucktails.”

Rosie Fishing of Moriches Bay reports:

“The fluke bite has been awesome this entire week. Two days ago we had fish to six pounds hitting the deck. We had a school trip aboard the day prior, and 4th grader Emily Alcantara caught a 27 inch, 8.2 pound doormat fluke! We’re doing evening trips starting this weekend, from 5-9pm. Give us a call for booking info.”

The Shinnecock Star in Hampton Bays reports:

“On Tuesday we were on the bite, with peconic porgies and bluefish, and then some shinnecock fluke. The fluke are puking up small crabs, grass shrimp and mantis shrimp. On Sunday, the fluke bite was great, with fish to eight pounds coming over the rail. We picked a few weakfish, porgies and blues in the peconics beforehand.” They’re sailing out of Oaklands Marina daily from 7am-2pm.”

The Hampton Lady of Hampton Bays reports:

“We’ve been catching a good mixed bag of fish the past few days. Striper, scup, fluke, bluefish and weakfish have been coming up regularly. The weakfish bite is especially productive lately; we came back with a full limit yesteeday, and put just as many back. There are more fluke hitting the nets each day. Porgies are chewing rain or shine. When the weather’s nice, though, the fish are chewing well. We’re sailing 6am-2pm.”

Chris Albronda from Montauk reports:

“It was a week for the record books in Montauk this week, with striped bass being the main event. A variety of sizes, from unders to overs, were chewing heavily; all you had to do was find the birds. Bluefish, on the other hand, were practically nonexistent until this Monday.

The porgies have begun moving into the area too. Giant Black Sea bass are being caught commercially, and by rec guys as bycatch. Fluke fishing is tough, but Capt. Jaime on the Miss Montauk had the first double digit of the year. Within the next two weeks, this bite should blow up completely, providing steady action. Party boats have been doing well squid fishing.” Shoot Chris a text at 631-830-3881 to book a light tackle trip. He’s available Sundays and Mondays.

Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball reports:

“I took Walt and Mike into the south side on 5/19 for the night shift. Water temps were mid-to-high 50’s. Schoolie bass were smacking sp minnows and small darters immediately. Once the tide got too low, we made moves to the north side for a couple hours… nothin’ doing. We ran back to the south side for one more schoolie on a Hellcat.

On Sunday, Paul B. Joined me for the post-sunset shift, working all of Montauk for a single rat bass. Monday was no more productive, but the sights were promising. We saw sandeels on the north side, which is earlier than I’m used to. We ended up finding one fish on a chicken scratch bomber. On Tuesday, Anthony joined me for a north side session, where he picked a bluefish on an sp minnow. Again, the bass fishing was just plain tough, with not much doing.” Bill says this is the typical lull after the last moon of May. 

Montauk’s Viking Fleet reports:

“We began the week with a good porgy bite on the Starlite. When the tide was running, the fish were biting. We even pulled up a few kingfish. Then on Friday, the fish were biting their heads off. It seems a new body of fish moved in, of medium-to-large fish. The largest porgy we caught was about 2.5 pounds.”

Eastern Long Island Fishing Forecast

This is always my busiest work week of the year; it’s probably the worst week of the year for me. I do the least amount of fishing, and anglers putting in the time are catching their fish of a lifetime. It’s always around Memorial Day Weekend when I hear of the first local 50 pounder getting caught. Right now is the ultimate time to be on the water, and I’m putting in awfully long days of manual labor. I can’t wait until the week’s over, the stress is gone, my energy’s back, and I can get back into my fishing groove.

I’m taking casts here and there, mostly into the ocean, and flying my drone when I see something interesting. It’s all quick sessions; I’m counting a lot on luck to put a fish right in front of me. I was fortunate in the first few days.

Between jobs on Thursday, I planned to meet Steve Bechard and Paul Dixon at some flats in Shinnecock. As I neared the spot, I got the report that the water was lower than they’d ever seen it. The ocean water looked tropical, and it felt real fishy to me, so I told the boys I’d peruse the suds and let them know if anything was doing. I pulled my truck near the water and stood on my flatbed. The water on the beach lip was crystal clear, and I expected to see some stripers swimming along it, looking for food. Ten minutes later, I hadn’t seen a single fish. With a curvaceous cove to my left, and a pronounced point on my right, I knew I just needed to weed out the wrong water and I’d find some fish. I picked a spot where the deep water seemed to be closest to shore, and gazed at the water again.

Crystal clear, tropical-looking water and an extremely low tide are great for observing structure along the beach. (@southforksalt)

 In no time, a dark slick moving quickly eastbound passed in front of me. I called the guys, who were already at their cars, and said “get down to the beach!” I could’ve sworn these were striped bass, but we’d find out shortly that these fish had teeth. We chased the large school down the beach and casted over and over. Steve and Paul had fly rods and couldn’t reach the main bait ball. I tied on a rubber shad and reached them on my tenth cast. I got bit off immediately. Guess they were blues after all. 

I figured I’d try to conjure up a little bait-and-switch situation while the opportunity was there. We casted for a while, and I eventually caught and released a short striper. We’d see new schools pass by often, just a couple hundred feet from shore. As we were about to call it quits, I spotted a single fish cruising on the crest of a wave right near the beach. Despite the crystal clear water, I excitedly misidentified this fish as a striper, and casted a few feet in front of it. I slowly worked my popper to the beach, and the fish nosed it the entire time. Paul casted his crab fly over my line. The fish continued following my popper, all the way into the white wash. It disappeared along with my plug, and I didn’t get the hit. I yelled to Steve, “it’s coming towards you! Cast!” and Steve goes “Paul’s already got it!”

I looked right, and Paul’s rod was indeed bent under the weight of a gator blue. I freaked out and started cheering. Paul realized that this fish was a blue, and decided not to lose his fly; he slackened his line, and the bluefish spit the hook. That was super exciting.

My next encounter would be the next evening. I put in a grueling day of work, starting at sunrise. It was too nice out not to enjoy some of the sunlight, so I ran down to the beach at about 6pm. I figured I might run into a similar situation as yesterday. My dudes Brian and Neil were west of me a couple hundred yards. I took a couple casts as they drove towards me. As soon as Brian pulled up, the big dark blob I had been eyeing started sprinting east. Moments later, there was an all-out blitz about 50 yards from shore. It was over as quick as it started, but I remember going “that’s our school! Let’s chase it!”

I figured they were blues, as Brian was catching those up the beach. I intended to keep a fish that night. We would chase the school, get a bit ahead, and park for a cast or two (usually just one). These fish were moving so darn quickly and they were just far enough that you couldn’t retrieve your lure fast enough to get a second or third cast off. We followed this school for a mile and a half, changing lures each time one would get refused. A diamond jig reached them easily, but didn’t get hit after the first bump. Same deal with a needlefish, but that didn’t even provoke a hit. The shad wouldn’t reach, the bucktail wouldn’t buy a bite, and the fish seemed uninterested in my popper when it would actually reach them. Eventually, I was able to buy a bite by leading the school and working my super strike popper very slowly. A 30 inch striper came to hand, and would feed me for the week.

I didn’t have any more fish throughout the week. I’ll mention some other important sights, but first I want to discuss these fish on the ocean side. The only stripers/bluefish I’ve ever seen move so fast are ones that I’ve spooked. Once they see me, they bolt for the hills. All these ocean fish were moving at least that fast.

I did a bit of running, and I’m pretty darn fast on the beach, but I could hardly keep up with that eastward blob. Their inclination to avoid attacking my lures also struck me as strange. I’ve been seeing a lot of this behavior lately. I believe I wrote about it last week, with the stripers riding wave crests eastward, moving extremely fast. Those fish were a bit more willing to hit my lure at first, until they weren’t.

So I came to a general conclusion: the spring oceanfront is for migrating, the bay is for feeding. During the spring run, the fish move into the bays to feed; they stage near choke points, creep up onto flats, and hunt structure. The ocean fish are primarily migrating, feeding only if a good opportunity arises. The oceangoers’ main objective is movement, and the bay side is for the hunt. The ones in the bay might be residents for the year, or just temporary residents. They are there specifically to eat. 

So in my mind, it makes the most sense to target the bays in the spring if you want to catch fish. Clearly, the ocean side has been producing good fish since mid-April, so I won’t ever sleep on it… but if you want to maximize your chances of catching fish, you ought to target the bays. In the spring ocean, it’s really tough unless you see the fish. Luckily we’ve had a ton of clear water days which make this possible, and MAN are the visuals amazing… but you’ve gotta see the fish, put the cast in the right spot, hope it’s the right lure, and present it correctly. Even if you nail all of that perfectly, the odds of getting more than a chance or two are pretty slim on the reg. I’m hunting the ocean just about every day, and I’ve felt good about my chances maybe once a week, when there’s fish present and the conditions are decent.

Anyway, that’s just my two cents.

The bayside bunker population is reportedly pretty low this year. My buddy Mike fishes them commercially, and has been coming up pretty empty so far. I have spotted a few large schools on the ocean side though. I reckon it’s not long before we start seeing some large predators feeding upon them.

I feel like everything’s a bit early this year. A few years back, there was an epic June on the beach. We had massive stripers attacking bunker on my beach daily for about 5 days. I blew some serious chances, and a lot of people scored big. I scored relatively medium. I’ve been waiting years for a shot at redemption. I’m hoping more menhaden show up soon, and that the June cows will have to pass right through them, right in front of me. It could occur any day, if the fish are truly moving early.

There’s a ton of talk about worm hatches lately. I think people hear pops and automatically assume worms; they might be right. I did notice a lot of dead baby crabs in the wrack line on the flats. Fluke stomachs are filled with crustaceans too. Plus, there’s an incredible amount of spearing this year; I believe that’s what I saw those stripers blitzing upon early this week. Point is, there is a lot of small bait around, and most of the fish I encountered recently seemed to be hyper-focused upon them. The stripers, and even the blues, seem to be scoffing at my larger presentations for the most part. That is, unless my lure is throwing a lot of water. Poppers are so clutch.

June is big bait time in my mind, and we’re almost there. I think we’re still in the stage where smaller offerings will catch way more fish… and as they say, elephants eat peanuts. I nearly had a couple hogs on my Holy Moley a week earlier. So don’t be afraid to tie on a teaser this week. Bring a red, tan or white clouser to tie above your main lure. That’ll cover shrimp and worms. Dead drift it in the current, especially if there’s fish popping and you’re not catching. I have heard way fewer people talking about teasers in the past couple years, and way more talk of people striking out when fish are popping. Just a thought.

I wish I currently had more time to put these notions to the test, but that’ll have to wait… it’s busy season for me. The forecast for the week ahead looks prime, so carpe diem.

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