Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- March 28, 2024

Striper activity picks up as bunker trickle into the western bays, shops load up on crabs for tautog season, and stocked trout are chewing in the ponds.

Long Island and NYC Fishing Report

  • Adult bunker (menhaden) start to fill the bays on the South shore. 
  • Holdover striped bass from schoolie to slot-size continue to bite on both shores. 
  • Most ponds across Nassau & Suffolk are now freshly stocked with brown trout & rainbow trout. Visit the DEC’s website to know which waters were stocked.  
  • Got crabs? Blackfish season begins next Monday, April 1st!

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

“The holdover bite slowed a bit but when the conditions line up, it’s lights-out! The best bite seems to be going on further west on the North shore. But the South shore bite has been picking up too, especially with the adult-size bunker starting to show up. In a week or two things will be going full steam with the striper migration, and the fishing is only going to get better!


The shop has fresh sandworms and bloodworms, plus clam, crabs, and other bait for all types of fishing. We also carry Joe Bagg’s Swarters, which have been deadly for holdover fishing, and all other lures you can think of to catch every fish across the island. Stop by and get ready for spring!” 

Petey Trovato from Lindenhurst Bait and Tackle told me: 

“The first night this week I went out I bent out both hooks on my minnow plug. There’s some seriously big fish out in the bays for this time of year, and with bunker trickling in they’re going to start getting more aggressive, especially toward larger lures and topwaters. I had 3 fish all over 36 inches earlier this week, and I caught them all on blurple SP minnows with high-quality BKK single hooks. During the day, bone is the color of choice. 

You can get by with the stock hooks on most fish, but you’ll want to upgrade to a stronger hook if you run into these 30-inch plus fish. Stop by the shop and pick up some new hooks to upgrade your plug’s hardware. 

On the freshwater front, largemouth bass have been biting well too; 3-inch wacky-rigged worms have been killing it. Most of the ponds are loaded with trout now and you can catch a ton of rainbow and brown trout on spoons and spinners, or bait. These fish are freshly stocked and stupid so they’ll bite just about anything. It’s a great time to get someone into the sport who’s never fished before, because it’s almost guaranteed action!” 

Jamie from Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside reports: 

“There’s been a great cod bite on clams on the reefs, plus holdover schoolies and slot striped bass in the back-bay marshes on plugs. The first reports of bunker in Jamaica Bay have trickled in, so the season is about to really take off!  

Blackfish season begins next week! While the most consistent blackfishing happens offshore on the reefs, you can still find them close to shore on pilings and other types of structure. When fishing from shore, use rigs over jigs to have the best chance of hooking-up and not snagging. Stop by for all your inshore and offshore fuel, tackle, & bait needs! We have fresh crabs & clams to help you catch everything that’s out there right now.”

Sean Crean of Port-of-Call Charters in Huntington announced they’ll be launching on April 1st for blackfish & striped bass on April 15th. Visit portofcallcharters.com to book a trip! 

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

 

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A post shared by Brian (@bsprex)

 

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If you have a catch you’d like to share, DM me on Instagram @nick_onthewater.

Long Island and NYC Fishing Forecast

Stocked trout season is in full tilt, with many popular spots being freshly stocked as evidenced by the foot and air traffic at the local ponds. Ospreys, hawks, and anglers bear down on the naïve hatchery trout that now flood these shallow bodies of water. 

Having spent their lives pampered and sheltered away from any personal danger or hunger, their only instinct is to head for the most comfortable pocket of water they can find. When searching for them in a larger pond, start with the deepest points. 

Right after a stocking, the fish tend to be more spread out as they adjust to their new surroundings. Casting a spoon is an effective tactic to cover water and locate the fish. Eventually though, most of them will settle in the deepest holes with the most comfortable, colder water, and you can hammer ‘em for near-endless bites. Given the consistent cool weather, they’re likely to stay more spread out, depending on exactly when they were stocked. As we have more days in the upper 50’s this week, they’ll start to stack up in the deepest holes they can find. 

Despite a diet of hatchery pellets, they still react to spoons, spinners, and flies. But in case they don’t – an offering of bread, Berkley PowerBait, or literally any mushy, carb-rich organic matter that can be lumped on a hook and cast into the water will draw a bite. It’s certainly not as exciting as a bluefish blitz or even snapper fishing, but it’s consistent, mindless action to hold us over until the racers return. 

On the holdover striper front, both the North and South shores have been producing fish up-to and over 30 inches. Action has been very sporadic, with some anglers finding windows of multiple fish in quick succession and others only landing one for an hour or two of effort. The storm this past weekend turned a lot of bays into chocolate milk reservoirs, with visibility barely a foot deep in some spots. Although it’s getting better by the day, I think it really messed up what seemed like a great window with this full moon. Some anglers I know swear by full moons, while others curse it. I treat moons as one variable that complements the others such as tide, wind, and water temperature.  

Adult-size bunker have started moving into the NY Bight and the nearby bays, and the bass should be close behind. Up-sizing to 7-inch plastics or larger, dropping bunker spoons over the rail, and working larger metal-lip plugs sub-surface can attract the largest fish around and make for heart-pounding action. I’m confident the topwater bite will really start to pick up now that these beloved baitfish are starting to arrive, and you can tie on a pencil or spook with more confidence that it will attract the attention of a hungry bass.  

Over the next week, the season should really begin to pop-off as migratory fish follow in the wake of the bunker and the bait schools spread out along the North and South shores. 

Blackfish season starts April 1st, and most tackle shops are stocked with crabs of all varieties for the die-hard spring anglers who get out whatever the weather on opening day. While some claim the fish can only be found deep in spring, there are plenty of examples of quality tog being caught around bridge pilings, near barges, and tucked into gnarly structure along the rocky back bays. With no porgy/scup around to steal your bait, you can be sure that every tap is the target species.  

Spring togging might often be overshadowed by striped bass season, but I recommend you give it a shot on a local charter boat, where the mates will handle all of the chore work of cutting crab, tying rigs, and anchoring over structure for you.

It’s the beginning of the fun, folks. Get out there as soon as you can and get tight. Thanks for reading, tight lines! 

The L.I./NYC Fishing Report is written and compiled by NYSDEC licensed kayak fishing guide, Nick Cancelliere (@nick_onthewater).

1 thought on “Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- March 28, 2024

  1. james judson

    Just want to say hatchery trout were not pampered and safe at the hatchery like someone wrote in your article. From the time they were fingerlings they were outdoors being chased and eaten by Kingfisher birds and mink..as they got too big for Kingfishers,Bald Eagles attacked them from above. The mink still went after them..sometimes along with otters.

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