Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- August 17, 2023

Sheepshead are caught around south shore bridges, bluefish blitz on peanut bunker on the north shore, and fluke fishing remains steady out front with plenty of shorts in the bays.

Western Long Island and NYC Fishing Report

  • Cocktail bluefish crash on peanut bunker, gator bluefish crash the cocktails, but what’s crashing on the gator blues? 
  • 9 pound sheepshead taken off the bridges near Jones Beach.  
  • Fluke, sea bass, and porgy continue to provide consistent bottom-jigging fun for all. 
  • Bonito off Montauk means it’s time to shake the rust off your tins and epoxy jigs.  

Petey Trovato from Lindenhurst Bait and Tackle reports: 

“Bluefish have been blitzing like crazy. The day before we saw a bunch of cocktails and gator blues causing havoc at one of the bridges. Johnny Fish and I netted some live peanut bunker and we threw them out on hooks into the beach lips and both limited out on fluke. We even saw a slot striper at 31 inches get caught off one of the jetties by another angler during the day. Fluking’s been steady since July and shows no signs of slowing down. There’s been a couple surprise striper catches during the day so its probably not a bad time to try for them as well.” 

Jamie from Bay Park Fishing Station said: 

“The inshore tuna sights continue! Most of the action is off the Rockaways and Ambrose. Bigger fluke have moved into the offshore reefs. Live peanut bunker draw them out this week. Billy Lehmann had a great day out last week using live peanuts and 4-inch Gulp mullets. There’s lots of bait with cocktail blues on them all around the bays, and it’s great fun with a light setup, especially for kids!”  

Paul Mccain from River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin said: 

“I’ve been guiding and because of the rain the Connetquot rose 6 inches, which is great! The fish are happy and water temps are down. Mop flies worked well and my client landed 8 fish in total, a great day for a beginner.  

In the salt, my buddy Tom has been doing very well with fluke on the fly. More important than time of day has been the tide for him – top of the incoming has been working best. There’s also been some bass around, and with a cinder worm hatch on the North shore its a good time to chuck flies.” 

John from Freeport Bait and Tackle reports:

“We had a 9.8-pound sheepshead brought in recently from one of the bridges. If you’ve never caught a sheepshead before, head down to any one of the local bridges with our green crabs! Our green crabs are available on pre-order only so please call ahead. 

We also recently restocked our offshore reels for tuna, and electric reels for tilefish. With all the bluefin and yellowfin tuna around right now it’s a great time to get into it or put together a jig-and-pop setup!” 

Brandon Weitz from Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh told me: 

“My friend caught a huge sheepshead over 9 pounds at one of the bridges recently, but I’ve been out on the boat catching up tuna. Bluefish have been blitzing on peanut bunker by the Meadowbrook in the back bays, and the ocean reef fluke bite is super hot right now. There’s action wherever you go. Catch ‘em up!” 

Gypsea Charters in Brooklyn reports:

“We had up and down fluke fishing the past week due to the new moon. Some days were excellent, while others we struggled to put it together. We covered a lot of ground until we could find something to work with. This next moon should have things back on track!” Call/text (516)659-3814 for info and reservations, which are a must.

They Gypsea managed to find some decent fluke fishing amid strong tides caused by the new moon this week. (@gypseacharters)

Rockfish Charters in Queens reports:

“We had a great week on the Rockfish this week getting bass to 45 pounds in New York Harbor, bluefin tuna on live squid close to shore, and yellowfin tuna popping and jigging offshore. Incredible fishing right now! We have some availability in September, call (347)661-4501 to book!”


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


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A post shared by Raul Andres (@_raul_andres_)


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A post shared by Brandon Weitz (@bweitz1)


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A post shared by Petey Trovato (@petey315691)


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A post shared by Michael Urbaez (@bx_sharkman)

August has been wild. King mackerel and barracuda off the coast of Montauk, overslot striped bass being caught mid-day on the Long Island Sound, cobia being pretty much a resident fish at this point, and now a tarpon from shore on Cape Cod. In the bays, large schools of baitfish pave the surface of the water everywhere you look, being attacked by birds or bluefish during the day and stripers by morning and night. When all that bait is around I get antsy. I’ve got pelagics on my mind and so do many other anglers. 

Is it too early to be thinking about albies? With the recent king mackerel and barracuda catches off Montauk, including tons of bonito this week, I can only imagine the albies and spanish mackerel are right behind them if not already here as I’m writing this. Pelagics are a blast on light tackle and can be found crashing bait schools generally around the tail-end of August through October and November.  

It’s my favorite time of year as an angler. You spend long days on the water scanning the horizon for blitzes, not so much worried about what’s on your sonar. Tuning in to the sights and sounds will tell you where to go. It forces you to stop and smell the roses while fishing. At least until the fish start jumping. Then your focus is razor sharp and nothing else matters besides making a cast into that blitz. 

Of course, there’s still plenty of action on the fluke front with many keepers being reported throughout the week. Boat anglers bring home all kinds and sizes of tuna from successful trips miles out, and sharks continue to make headlines off the beaches. There have been some prominent weakfish catches too. It’s a smorgasbord out there, and its only getting better from here as the fall sets in. These cool, 60 degree mornings have already done a lot to get me out in the kayak rain or shine. There’s been a lot of wind lately and even that hasn’t really stopped me from wetting a line in the ‘yak. 

In the Western Long Island Sound it’s been pandemonium. Cocktails blitz on peanut bunker schools, while at the same time getting blitzed on by gator bluefish. Just this week I was throwing tins at a cocktail blitz when I witnessed one jump straight in the air several feet. As I hooked into a cocktail, I felt it take a huge run that suddenly stopped. That’s when I realized I was reeling in half a bluefish. A gator blue took a big bite out of this cocktail on the way in. 

Half a cocktail blue = glass half full. Gator blues are mixed in with the smaller ones this time of year, so be equipped to battle both when you’re on the water this month. (@li_kayak_fishing)

What to Expect

Get your deadlies and epoxy jigs ready for pelagics. If you’re shorebound, you should be hitting up your local inlet on the daily to see if anything’s blitzing. There’s good chances right now for spanish mackerel, bonito, and of course bluefish to be crashing on peanut bunker and other bait, whether it’s in the middle of an inlet or a back bay. Birds will be the obvious sign, but look for nervous water and baitfish skittering off the surface. 

Sometimes it’s insanity below, but you’d never know it from the calm water above. Cast metal jigs far into the surf and crank them back at medium- to fast-paced retrieves. Experiment with fast retrieves that disturb the surface of the water and provoke topwater hits, or slower retrieves through different parts of the water column. 

The bluefish bite on the North shore has been wild. As I talked about above, bigger blues are eating smaller blues. So what’s eating the bigger blues? I’d like to imagine cow striped bass. With the way things are now it should be an epic fall run this year. Weakfish have also made a strong showing this past week and you may have a higher chance of catching that new PB. 

One more thing to mention on the West Long Island Sound is a cinder worm hatch. As of Tuesday I noticed countless numbers of cinder worms wriggling around on the surface. Fly anglers should do well this week chucking any flies that imitate them. 

We’ve continued to see some epic sheepshead fishing around Rockaway and the Jamaica Bay bridges, but what about further East? Well, this past week a big, 9lb sheepshead was caught under one of the bridges leading to Jones Beach. That’s pretty exciting. I might have to take my kayak down there and drop some crabs.  

So right now, someone could theoretically land a cobia, sheepshead, and black drum all in a day of fishing without ever leaving the inlets. That’s epic. 

It’s been that kind of season where any day, things can change and yesterday’s excitement feels like months ago in comparison to what a new day brings. I never thought I’d hear about Tarpon being caught from shore in the Northeast. Wow. 

It’s epic out there, stop reading and go fishing! Thanks for reading, tight lines. 

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