Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- June 22, 2023

Gator bluefish are packed into the western Sound, thresher sharks harass bunker pods on the south shore and anglers prepare for the sea bass season opener on Friday.

Western Long Island & NYC Fishing Report

  • New York’s recreational striped bass slot size has been officially changed to 28 inches minimum 31 inches maximum, as of June 20. 
  • Big stripers line the North shore bottom and continue to bite on artificials as well as bunker. 
  • Massive schools of gator bluefish invade the back bays of the Western Long Island Sound, savagely biting anything tossed at them. 
  • Fluke reports from North to South indicate fast-paced short action, but some difficulty with finding keeper-sized fish. 
  • Anglers fishing the East River pull up gator blues and slot-size bass. 
  • New York’s sea bass season opens this Friday, June 23, and with a lot of by-catch reports by fluke fishermen, it could start off strong 
  • Big thresher sharks are being caught off the South shore, as shown by our friends at Bay Park fishing station. 

You just never know. This past Monday, I embarked on a back bay mission to target fluke and weakfish. As I casted a pink shine jerk shad, I spotted the tail of a bluefish sticking clear out of the water and slowly swimming across the shallow flats. I quickly reeled in my soft plastic and threw on a popper. 

I landed a cast just ahead of it and watched as two more tails emerged and savagely attacked my lure as it landed on the water. As it turns out, the back bay was stuffed full of big, teen-sized bluefish. I thought back to some incredible drone footage that came out of the south shore and east end of huge schools of migrating bluefish, was this that same school, or another one that came through the East River? 

I’ve heard of bluefish ‘finning’ like this but had never seen it in person. It was truly an incredible sight. After a while of catching them on topwater lures, I retreated back to the parking lot and put together my fly outfit hoping to get my first ever bluefish on the fly.  

It was for sure one of the most memorable fishing sessions of my life. At one point, I was slowly stalking a bluefish from my kayak, carefully paddling behind it while it swam on the surface with its fins sticking in the air. With a banger fly tied on a few inches of wire leader, I made a lousy cast just past the fish’s head, and watched as its fins dipped out of sight. For a second, I thought I’d spooked it and missed my chance. Then: WHAM! That distinct slapping sound of a fish exploding on a lure happened, and I was tight on my first ever bluefish on the fly.  

Another wave of big blues invaded the Western Long Island Sound this week. (@outie_fishing)

I paddled around looking for more bluefish, when I noticed some nervous-looking water directly ahead of me. As I got closer I spooked a dozen bluefish only inches in front of my kayak. They were visibly swimming on the surface, close together in a tight school. When I looked a bit further beyond this group, I noticed the full extent of this. Hundreds of black fins and tails were sticking out of the glistening water, back-lit by the low afternoon sun. 

A big school of bluefish finning on the surface. (@outie_fishing)

After taking care of that fish I put my fly in the hook keeper, sat back, and took it all in. What do you do when all the bluefish you could ever want are right in front of you, and you got them all to yourself? I could have caught a fish on every cast for hours if I wanted, but in that moment I just quietly sat in my kayak and enjoyed the company of thousands of bluefish for a while. Then I caught a few dozen more. 

Oh, and happy summer.

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

Rockfish Charters in Queens reports:

“We’ve had good passing this week getting easy limits and plenty of releases on each trip. We have to run pretty far for bait but with a fast boat it’s not a big deal. We’ll start tuna fishing soon and will be bass fishing through December. Call (347)661-4501 to book a trip.”

Rockfish Charters is still finding some good fishing for slot and over-slot striped bass by using live bait. (@rockfishcharters)

Gypsea Charters in Brooklyn reports:

“Fishing has been relatively good over the last week. We have been fishing the hard bottom most days, with loads of action between keepers and shorts. Quality fish continue to come up in the bay as well, and we have been putting together respectable catches locally when we can’t get out into the ocean. Many limits were taken over the past week with multiple 5- and 6-pound fish coming up. We will be adding sunset fluke trips to the schedule every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 4:30 to 9 p.m. Reservations are a must, call/text (516)659-3814 for information and reservations.”

The Gypsea has been able to put together a solid catch of 5- and 6-pound fluke while bouncing between the ocean and the bays. (@gypseacharters)

Paul Mccain from River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin said: 

“We’re in a drought currently on Long Island. The ponds are low but pretty clear. The Connetquot is very low and as such the fish are very spooky. Fishing was tough there when it’s usually lights-out. Last Monday was OK but not the usual beat-down compared to what it usually is. Hopefully the rain this week will help things along.

Saltwater fishing has of course been very good. Bluefish are everywhere and biting, bass are still around thick but you have to weed through the blues and keep your line out of the rocks.  

We have a shop trip coming up tomorrow to the Farmington River which will be a great time. We still have a few spots left on our upcoming Montana trip as well for any interested fly anglers.”  

Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh told me:  

“Fluking is hot but there’s a lot of shorts around. Bass are still biting and the big ones are in the bays, around bridges, and outside the inlets feeding on lures and bunker. Bluefish are still fired up everywhere so watch out for your soft plastics and leaders. Snotty weather this week but the wind forecast looks great for the weekend. We got all the lures and bait you need to catch cows and doormats so stop by!” 

Johnny Fish from Lindenhurst Bait and Tackle reports: 

“Off shore we had two customers report a slam dunk day with over 50 fluke, but only 10 keepers total on gulp rigs. Funny story from another customer: over at Jones beach last week during one of the concerts, there was a blitz in the water near the VIP section triggered by the stage lights. You could have had a free concert with your bass blitz if you were shacked up fishing in that cove.  

The weather ain’t looking great this week but thankfully the weekend looks calm. Stop in to the shop for all your bait needs from bass to bluefin.”  

Jamie from Bay Park Fishing Station said: 

“Fluke are being weighed in the 2-3 pound range with the occasional doormat this week. Most are being caught in the bays. The Skelly family reported constant action east of the Atlantic beach bridge on Father’s day. 

The thresher bite is on. Multiple 300 plus sharks were boated last weekend. Bay park is loaded up with fresh bunker, chum, and bluefish for your shark trips. We’re open 7 days a week. Catch ‘em up!” 

John from Freeport Bait and Tackle reports: 

“Fluking has been consistent in the bays with mostly shorts but some absolute doormats coming in occasionally. We recently weighed a 12.33 pounder caught off our local spearing.  

We just had a major restock on all Z Man ‘ElaZtech’ soft plastics that will hold up to all the bluefish around right now. Visit the shop for fresh bunker daily, live eels, and a selection of the best saltwater tackle.” 

Here’s what anglers have been posting on social media this week: 


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A post shared by @blastin_bass_fishing


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A post shared by Outie (@outie_fishing)

What to Expect This Week

Bunker made a decent showing in early June and from then on it seems they’ve just vanished from the North shore. In the past two years they flooded the back bays of the North shore, and this year it seems they’ve been spotty. Regardless, striped bass have been feeding actively on sand eels and other small bait in their place. Bluefish have been terrorizing the Sound, with a lot of big gators around as well as masses of cocktail-size fish blitzing on bait schools mid-day.  

As the migratory bass settle in they’ll likely be staging in cooler, deeper water and behind boulders, so you’ll need to be wary of jagged rocky structure that a cow striped bass will retreat to if you hook it. 

High-test line, rods with more backbone, and reels with enough drag to put the brakes on a big striper are mandatory when fishing around rocky structure. Once you get tight, you should immediately yoink that fish up towards the surface and make sure it stays there so it can’t rub against the rocks. 

Inshore fluke fishing has been fast-paced but many anglers are reporting difficulty finding keepers. A kayak angling buddy of mine had dozens of fluke around 17 inches, and only two fluke over 20 inches on a recent 6-hour outing. Likewise, a family member of mine took a party boat trip against the wind this week and while everyone brought home a keeper, few limited out. Reports on the south shore have been comparably warmer, but not by much. Tackle and techniques are important, but the most valuable asset of a fisherman is time. And it sounds like If you plan on bringing home a fluke limit this week you’ll need to invest a good amount of time on the water to do so, by weeding through the shorts and working productive ledges and ambush points that the flatties tend to prowl. 

To me, the lessons that stick the most are learned through failure. Losing a big bass to the rocks, snapping your line on a wind knot you ignored, or forgetting a vital piece of gear at home are all things that need to happen once in a while to keep you grounded as an angler. Sometimes, I measure my success as an angler not by how many fish I caught, but by how many things I did right that session. A skunk is a skunk, but looking back and knowing you did everything right is a much better feeling than knowing you left fish on the table because you weren’t prepared. 

So check your gear, check your tides, and get out on the water. May this summer be one for the books. Thanks for reading, and tight lines.

1 thought on “Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- June 22, 2023

  1. peter okeefe

    when will people learn that these “slot” regulations are meaningless as far as helping the fishery?? just say “no” when they ask to look in your cooler. As americans we have a heritage of “due process” lacking evidence of wrong doing no government agent can look in or demand anything!! whatever happened to our freedom?

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