Tom Schlichter writes the Outdoors column for Newsday.
Head down to the water’s edge on a calm evening this week and the chances are pretty good you’ll hear splashes. That’s because the bunker plus a large assortment of smaller baitfish have made the scene in a big way over the past few weeks. With so much bait available, it’s reasonable to expect reports of stripers, blues and maybe a few weakfish to be on the upswing, and that has indeed been the case.
Currently, action has been dominated by points west. Kayak fishing guide Elias Vaisberg (nykayakfishingguideservices.com) has been battling a mix of stripers to 40 inches, plus a few bruiser bluefish in the 32-36-inch class. These have fallen to live bunker drifted in the backwaters of Jamaica Bay.
“The fishing is best when the conditions are calm,” Vaisberg said, “so get out in the morning before the southwest winds have a chance to pick up.”
While bay fishing is ideal for the kayak crew, those with more power have been speeding off to solid striper action west of Debs Inlet. “There are some really nice bass feeding on herring,” said Ashley Paradiso at Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside. “Trolling MoJo rigs and bunker spoons has worked best in water depths of 40 to 50 feet.” The bulk of the catch has been culled from off the Roadhouse and in front of the Rockaway Church, both easily identifiable landmarks for local skippers. Ed Mannone on the April Grace checked in this week’s biggest bass, a fat 31-pounder.
Heading east, the numbers of big bass start to fade, but fishing has still been pretty decent overall for the Captree fleet.
“We’ve been working inside the bay from Fire Island Inlet to Ocean Beach,” said Bryan Sorice of the open boat Island Princess. On Tuesday he had morethan 30 stripers, half being keepers. Capt. Ken Higgins of the open boat Captree Pride filed a similar report, adding that light crowds have made for plenty of elbow room and smiles all along the rail.
At The Campsite Sporting Goods in Huntington Station, Carmine Petrone knew that tight-lipped anglers were picking away with school bass and a few larger fish around Oyster Bay and Bayville, with most falling for swimming plugs or Keitech soft plastic swimbaits. Fly-rodders casting Clouser Minnows in bright yellow or chartreuse have also had some luck. “Work outgoing water near any creek,” he said.
School stripers have also found their way into Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai harbors, according to Jim Flora at Miller Place Bait and Tackle. Storm 5-inch paddle tails in pearl have been the hot ticket in this area.
On the East End, striper action remains confined to tidal creek schoolies. There was one surprising note. On Sunday, a significant school of 3- to 4-pound weakfish slipped though Shinnecock Canal and into Peconic Bay. It will be interesting to see if those fish show up in catches over the next couple of weeks.
Porgy season opens Sunday
Porgy season opens Sunday. From opening day though the close of the season on Dec. 31, recreational anglers can keep 30 per day with a minimum size of 10 inches. For open and charter boat customers, the creel limit increases to 45 fish from Sept. 1 through Oct. 31.