Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- May 4, 2023

Fluke season starts off strong despite crummy conditions, gator bluefish are scattered across the south and north shores, and weakfish are around in good numbers.

  • New striped bass slot limit to be in effect by July 
  • Fluke season is upon us! 
  • Gator blues in the surf 
  • Weakfish in the mix 

Just like the Rangers & Islanders playoff runs, this past weekend was a wash. If the weather didn’t keep you in, you may have been rewarded with a nice sized bluefish from the shore. The blues made prominent appearances in the surf throughout the weekend, and weakfish too! Dan Mendelson of Fishin’ Accomplished managed to catch a beauty of a weakfish while targeting stripers from his kayak last week, and anglers from East to West are reporting unicorns and blues as a by-catch of striper fishing. 


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Here’s the word from the boats and tackle shops: 

Rockfish Charters in Queens reports:

“Fishing continues to be spectacular. We keep seeing new bodies of bass covered in sea lice coming in off the ocean. We’ve had to move around a bit more to find the bait, but more times than not, the bass found the bait before we did and it is lock and load as soon as we fill the live wells. We’re also starting to get a more consistent topwater bite which will only get better after this moon. Give us a call to book a trip (347) 661-4501 or @rockfishcharters.


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Gypsea Charters in Brooklyn reports:

“Opening week of fluke fishing started out with a bang! Despite the abundant rain resulting in dirty water, the fish are here and hungry. We have seen over 30 quality keepers hit the deck each trip to 5.10 pounds. The action is not very fast, but the bites we get are all from nice flatties. We are sailing daily for fluke from here on out by reservation only. Call/text (516)659-3814 for info. and reservations.”

The Gypsea crew found some quality fluke during the opening week of the season.

Paul McCain from River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin said: 

“Saltwater fishing has been really good and I caught my first striper of the year last week. The south shore has been loaded with bluefish from Robert Moses to Jamaica Bay and fishing has been awesome for those fish in particular.”  

Marc from Freeport Bait and Tackle reports: 

“This week we received our very first reports of bluefish! Grab your tins and hard plastics and go out for some of these frisky gators. Reports of bluefish in both the back bays and out front. The first fish that moved in are a force to be reckoned with, with fish up to 10 pounds.  

As far as the fluke bite goes, the season is just getting started but we are already seeing some fish caught in the back, with on shore reports from Rockaway to Jones Beach. Fluking should heat up in the next couple of weeks, so make sure you have all of the essentials. Early reports coming in on bucktails tipped with gulp in various different color ways.  

For striped bass, the bite has been scattered but we’ve gotten reports of fish being caught all throughout Reynolds channel, primarily around the AB and Long Beach bridges. Bait seems to be the ticket, with both bunker and clams getting the job done. We expect the artificial bite to pick up here in the next week or so as the water is getting warmer and the migration should really start to move in.  

Lastly, birds and large bait pods have moved into our back bays, so that’s a great sign with fish to follow. Come in and see us and we’ll get you all set up.” 

Lindenhurst Bait and Tackle says: 

“As most already know, the striped bass invasion started 4 weeks ago. Currently, there are schools of bass and blues chasing bunker and spearing through Snakehill Channel, Great South Bay, and the Fire Island lighthouse area.  

Ron has been putting time in at the local docks early in the morning. On Sunday he was rewarded with a 28.5 inch striper that jumped on a blue/silver Atom Striper Swiper. Ray tried the James Joseph ocean blackfish trip this past week. Although he said the bite was slow, he still managed an 8.5 pound “whistle fish” blackfish that took the pool money.  

Everyone has been anticipating a good start to the fluke season. Guys have been accidentally catching some while targeting other species. The shop is now open 7 days a week and is fully stocked with fresh clams and bunker, sandworms, XL spearing, cut and whole squid, and clam bellies.  

The shop is open 7 days per week. Hours are 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Thursday and open 6 a.m. on weekends. We stay open until 8pm or 9pm on Friday and Saturday.” 

Brandon from Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh told us: 

“Haven’t seen blues out here yet, but should only be a matter of time. The bass fishing has continued to be really good. The water in the bays is a bit filthy since the storms but should clear up soon with the nice weather this weekend. Everything should be getting better from here on out.” 

Jamie from Bay Park Fishing Station reports: 

“Bluefish are getting caught outside of the inlet and in the back bays on poppers. The fluking is starting to get going in the back bays, they’re chewing on spearing. Gulp is also effective. Stripers are still getting caught around the back bays on poppers and top water plugs. We’re fully socked on fluke bait & rod combos so stop by the shop and get equipped for fluke season.” 

Here’s what anglers around the west-end have been catching: 

Raul Andres with one of the first confirmed bluefish arrivals. (@_raul_andres_)

Peter Rainieri with a striper in hand, and a dozen marked on his fish finder. (Follow his YouTube channel: Peter Ranieri II.)

Opening day of Fluke season was snotty, but seemed productive for some. Whereas last year I spent a sunny and warm May 1st vertically jigging for fluke, (ultimately going home with a cooler full of porgy) this year I spent it the same way I spent most of April – slow-trolling & jigging for stripers while hoping to land that first spring weakfish.  

Striper reports continue to come in hot with a lot of rec anglers reporting topwater success. Smaller sized spooks and pencil poppers appear to be the ticket. With bluefish in the mix, I’ll most likely start every casting session with topwater from here on out. If you can’t get bit on the surface, my recommendation is a swimming plug like an SP Minnow or X-Rap, Hopkins or Kastmaster spoon, or the venerable diamond jig. Come June, a 1-ounce diamond jig with a teaser hook is my preferred weapon for targeting racer bluefish from the beach. If I’m feeling fancy, a 1- to 1.5-ounce Kastmaster spoon with a bucktail flag on the trailer hook is even better. 

Our boy Matt Haeffner got a chance to return home and fish with Karl Neumann (@kan313) and Chris Landry (@bkanglers), catching plenty of stripers in Jamaica Bay on topwater poppers.  

Matt Haeffner and the BK Anglers got into some brief but exciting topwater action in Jamaica Bay during snotty conditions. (@hefftyfishing)
Chris Landry of Rock Steady Charters in Jamaica Bay with a chunky bass pushing 35-inches. This fish ate a live bunker before the topwater bite turned on. (@bkanglers)

Up on the Hudson this past weekend was Mr. Poseidon’s Annual Piermont Pier Striper Challenge. Despite the weather there was a tremendous showing of anglers from all over the tri-state and plenty of quality fish caught & released, with more than a few over-slot fish landed. The winning fish of the day measured in at 42 inches long. All proceeds were donated to the village of Piermont’s Police Athletic League

Mr. Poseidon with a nice 34-inch Hudson River striper. (@mr_poseidon_fishing)

What to Expect This Week

The forecast looks very calm this weekend, which is great news for kayak anglers intent on bottom jigging. Slow drifts over ledges and structure should be easily attainable without having to fight against wind and tide. Friday’s full moon means you may want to cancel your going out plans and fish the night shift instead, especially with how the tides are lining up. Monday looks like a good day to call out sick, with warm temps, sunny skies, and calm winds.  

With water temps still in the high 40’s to low 50’s, make sure you practice cold water safety if you choose to fish from a kayak. Always wear your PFD, even better a dry suit. We’re just getting started and there is plenty of opportunity on the horizon, so don’t put your life on the line for some fish pics.  

My lure recommendation at this point in the spring is a white bucktail tipped with a pink shine gulp grub. This versatile presentation can catch porgy, fluke, weakfish, stripers, and bluefish, and is a tackle box staple for me. If you’re targeting stripers specifically, lean harder on topwater tackle and if they aren’t rising, tie on a paddle tail shad or minnow plug that matches the profile of the local baitfish in the area. 

As far as using soft plastics when bluefish are around, I’ve had success with Z-man’s ‘ElaZtech’ DieZel minnows holding up to multiple bluefish before needing to be replaced. More often they just leave teeth marks that don’t impact the action of the lure, allowing you to work through multiple bluefish without charging yourself a soft plastic per bite. Also, just like with live bait, blues always seem to prefer the tail, so making sure your hook shank is long enough to match your soft plastic is key to getting hooked and not just bit.  If the hook pokes out closer the head of the bait, you’re more likely to end up with a bitten off tail.  

This is the time when all your pre-season preparation and scouting pays off. A terrific April has come to pass and with May comes more species to catch and new opportunities. I hope you hook your personal best over the next few days. Tight lines.

2 on “Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- May 4, 2023

  1. peter okeefe

    fishing on party boats will be ending soon. Killed by too many really STUPID regulations by our over reaching government. 40 million square miles of atlantic and a few thousand fisherman could hurt the fishing is just silly…beyond silly

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