Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- May 18, 2023

Weakfish are abundant on the North and South shores, bluefish are biting well in the surf and around the jetties, and a new wave of large stripers join the party.

  • Weakfish continue to make a strong showing this year, following in the trend of years prior.
  • Cow striped bass are becoming more prevalent.
  • Fluking improves with better weather.
  • Bluefish settle into the surf and bays, while a huge school of gators moves east. 

Here’s what the local shops & charters have to say: 

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

“The local party boats are still catching a lot of porgies with Jack’s sandworms, bloodworms and fresh clams, and there were even some weakfish mixed in. There are a ton of striped bass locally, they seem to be everywhere. Trolling with mojos or chunking with our fresh bunker are two tactics that have been responsible for a lot of the catching in the Western Sound. There were also a few fluke reported using our spearing and squid combo. Come in to the shop for all your bait and tackle needs before hitting the water!”

Captain Josh of Gypsea Charters in Brooklyn reports:

“Fluke fishing continues to be a steady pick of keepers with more and more shorts showing up in the area. It looks like a new body of fish has moved in and fishing should remain strong! We saw quite a few limit catches this past week, with Dylan H. nailing the biggest one at 8 pounds. We have been targeting channel edges in different depths which seem to be holding quite a few fish. We sail daily at 6:30 a.m. for fluke, by reservation only. Call/text (516)659-3814 for info and reservations.”

The Gypsea is finding good fishing along channel edges by working different depths day to day to find the fish. (@gypseacharters)

Captain Adrian of Rockfish Charters in Queens reports:

“The Rockfish hasn’t had to move much over the past week. A huge pod of bunker has moved into Jamaica Bay and stayed put with tons of bass and bluefish smashing through them a few times a day. Every morning we’ve been netting our bait, then just staying put and fishing the school we just threw a cast net on top of. We’ve netted a dozen bass by accident already, that’s how thick they are! If anyone wants to get in on this amazing fishing before they leave, give us a ring (347)661-4501. We have a few spots left next week.”


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Rich from Lindenhurst Bait & Tackle reports: 

“Spring fishing is heating up on the Great South Bay. Reports of quality weakfish have been steadily coming in. The “Crazy Legs” crew headed by Richie Kehoe had 15 tide runners on Saturday morning. Don Johnson came in to weigh a healthy 5.54 pounder for SIFC’s “first of the season” award. Bobby Karman, Dan Jorgensen and Hank Mathes got in on the action. Hank started the day with a decent 22-inch fluke, then they enjoyed a non-stop weakfish bite until the tide slowed down. Joe and Billy Biscardi had similar results jigging the Ocean Beach area. The guys caught about 30 weakfish up to 4.36lbs.  

Big bluefish are showing up in good numbers this season. The Fire Island Inlet from Democrat Point all the way past Captree is the best target area, and diamond jigs or poppers are good options. Fluke fishing has been a little slower than expected, but most of the fluke caught have been keepers.  

Anglers putting time in at the local docks are being rewarded with striped bass ranging from 20 to 35 inches. The best time is just after sunrise. Bunker colored Daiwa SP Minnows and other surface swimmers are working great. The “clam chummers” experienced a bass explosion Saturday morning at the Robert Moses Bridge. Doug Harrison and Manny Bartolo caught and safely released over a dozen fish and kept 2 at 34 and 34 1/2 inches. Another wave of larger striped bass are moving in from the West, pushing pods of bunker throughout the GSB.

This quality of fishing should hold for a few more weeks. Fresh bunkers and clams, sandworms, XL local spearing, Peruvian and Canadian spearing, cut and whole squid and clam bellies and chum are always available. We ask for 2 days notice on special and offshore bait.”

Jamie from Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside reports: 

“Reports are coming in that fluke bite is in full force. Squid and spearing have been doing the trick. For striped bass, Outside Bunker spoons seem to be the working on the troll and are the way to go in 40-50 ft of water. 

Pat Calahan reported that he had a great day fluking the East Rockaway inlet with a 5 pound fluke and switched over to bass on clams on the incoming and tide with 11 bass caught and released!” Bay Park Fishing Station is open 7 days a week! Monday to Friday 6:30AM-6:00PM / Saturday 6:00AM-6:00PM / Sunday 6:00AM-5:30PM 

John from Freeport Bait and Tackle reports: 

“The bluefish run continues with reports of them being caught at local piers, Jones Beach, and the beaches with some real gorillas coming up. Striped bass bite continues to be excellent on paddle tail shads and top water plugs. We just got in a big delivery of NLBN and Super Strike for those who want to target stripers. The fluke bite in the bay is consistent with reports of fish biting on squid and local spearing as well as Gulp. Now Open 7:00AM-8:00PM Monday-Friday, 6:00AM-8:00PM Saturday & Sunday.” 

Paul Mccain River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin said: 

“The wind made fly fishing tough this week. But the weekend was fantastic! Stripers were biting in the back bays on clousers and poppers. We’ll have to see what this new moon brings and how we do Thursday with the calmer winds.”

I stopped by River Bay the other day and picked up a new fly rod to embarrass myself with. Paul gave me a few casting pointers on my way out. If you’re new to fly fishing or just need to gear up I highly recommend visiting Paul at the shop! 

Brandon from Causeway Bait & Tackle reports: 

“Bluefish have taken over basically everywhere! They are showing up in the bays, around bridges, and construction docks. Bass fishing has been hit or miss on the beaches, but still fishing well when they’re hitting. Fluking has been okay, slightly improved over last week but still off to a slow start.”

Here’s what anglers on social media have been catching: 

Raul Andres with a fat overslot out of the East River this week. (Photo by @_raul_andres_)


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A post shared by Brandon Weitz (@bweitz1)

(Above: Brandon from Causeway Bait & Tackle with a cow caught on a spook.) 


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A post shared by Les Wang (@leswang_)

(Above: Les Wang with a gator blue from the surf.)


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A post shared by Outie (@outie_fishing)

(Above: The author with his first weakfish of the year!) 

(Above: Les Wang (@leswang_) caught this awesome picture of blues surfing a wave.

The conditions this past weekend were fantastic, and I was treated to a morning topwater bite after witnessing stripers rising up on bait, tails in the air and slapping the water on the way down. I immediately reeled in the tube and worm I’d so faithfully relied upon this Spring, and threw a Yo-Zuri hydropencil directly at the spot I saw the striper boil up from. Before I could even stand up in my kayak and start working the lure, it rose and grabbed the pencil. My first cast that day and I was rewarded with a slot-sized striper. It doesn’t get much better than that!  

The tube stayed on the hook keeper as these stripers readily blew up on topwater presentations. (@outie_fishing)

I’d started around 8 in the morning that day, about 1-2 hours into the outgoing tide – a window that has been very productive for me when targeting stripers this year. With no wind, the glass calm water combined with visibly rising stripers made it an effortless topwater day. I couldn’t see what bait the fish were eating, but a Fluke I caught later that day spit up a peanut bunker, of which I’ve seen schools stacked up in the back bays all throughout April, at times getting visibly attacked by holdovers and now migratory stripers. I have yet to see any adult bunker schools on the north shore, but they have been in the south shore bays and anglers have had great success live lining them for quality fish. 

At slack tide the action died down abruptly, but once the water started moving again and the rips began to visibly reform, we worked pencils right through them and were rewarded with more bites. Ultimately, my buddy and I landed a dozen stripers each, ranging from 20” schoolies to overslot fish. All on topwater.  

Following this banner day, I felt it was time to make the trip down South and go after my first Bluefish of the season. But I couldn’t leave my home on the North shore without checking one more box: Weakfish.  

I went to a local back bay where I knew of a channel with very shallow flats on each side. I drifted my kayak through the channel during the outgoing tide, when the current was visibly ripping. Vertically jigging the classic bucktail and Gulp combo found me a handful of fluke, numerous sea robins in between, and my first weakfish of the year! After seeing all these awesome tide runner weakfish catches on social media, it was a bit of a monkey off my back to land my first weakfish, even though it was average-sized. I gave myself permission to head South. So I put my kayak away, dusted off the surf rod, 60lb monofilament, and beat-up metal jigs from last year and headed for Jones Inlet with the intent of catching my first blues of the year. 

The author with a racer blue from the jetty rocks. (@outie_fishing)

When I arrived, I passed a couple of happy anglers with bluefish tails sticking out of catch bags on their way back to the parking lot. This was both encouraging and worrying, because it made think I could have missed all the action. I hadn’t bothered checking the tide that day and realized it was slack low. Damn! I spent an hour casting SP Minnows, Talkin’ Poppers, and Kastmasters into the currents, and when all hope was lost I resorted to audibly exclaiming “last cast” about a dozen times before I actually meant it, and it paid off! I hooked my first bluefish on a 1 ounce kastmaster spoon with a bucktail teaser. 

Let my near-skunking be a lesson not to chase reports – I’d been envious of all the south shore anglers posting pictures of large gator bluefish from the surf, and abandoned my local haunts that I was dialed into, expecting easy action. 

What to Expect This Week

It’s looking like a surfcaster’s weekend: overcast skies, slight chance of rain, and mild south wind blowing Friday through Saturday. Sunday the breeze flips to a Northwest wind, and next week looks sunny and warm as it was this week but with less wind. Great for kayak anglers. This Friday the 19th brings a New Moon, and the tide cycle on the north shore favors anglers who work 9-5, so If you fish early before work you’ll get the outgoing tide, and then again in the evening after work. 

I’ll be resuming my striper haunts, aiming for another awesome topwater day. I’ll be fishing further west and keeping my eyes open for nervous water, hopefully large adult bunker schools, and perhaps bluefish in chase. Everything seems to have had an earlier start this year, so I wouldn’t be too surprised if the North shore blues showed up early as well.  

My urge to fluke is still overshadowed by the striper bite, but I know come June I’ll start persistently targeting the flatties. May fluking for me has always been a sea robin infested ordeal. Porgies are widely available, yet I haven’t targeted them much either since taking my friend out last weekend. I’ve been chasing fights more than dinner.   

What are you targeting this week? Drop a comment below. 

With that, in the words of my off-the-boat Italian grandpa, “I wish you a lot of lucky.” Thanks for reading, and tight lines.  

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