Tom Schlichter writes the Outdoors column for Newsday.
Most serious porgy fishermen prefer prospecting under cloud cover. That’s especially so during early spring when the skittish but tasty scup slide inside our shallow bays and harbors. The season opened with high hopes last Sunday as weather forecasters predicted heavy skies, cool temperatures and scattered showers.
Things seemed to get off on the right track in Peconic Bay, where the best of the early porgy run has taken place in recent years. Big fish, many in the 1.5 to 2-pound class, were plentiful and rods were bending at a steady rate. As the week advanced, dreaded northeast winds kicked in, the fish grew picky and much of the mosquito fleet stayed at the dock.
Interestingly, in the worst conditions when even the pros couldn’t operate their big vessels, some skippers decided to scale things down and head out on their own with a change of pace in mind.
“I’m fly-fishing for trout at Beat 9 in Connetquot Park,” said a cheerful Capt. Walter Czekaj when he picked up his cell phone Thursday afternoon. “I’m using pink bead-head scuds and I’ve had a dozen rainbow trout from 9 to 15 inches long.”
Czekaj runs the open boat, Fishfinder II out a Captree, and his fares have been enjoying a battle most days with a mix of short and legal stripers to 18 pounds inside Fire Island Inlet. Tuesday also saw chopper blues to 9 pounds.
“I’m out here in a dinghy popping stripers on 6-pound test line,” said Capt. Jimmy Schneider of the Huntington based open boat Capt. James Joseph II when he answered the phone. “There’s a ton of bass inside Northport Bay, Huntington Harbor and Lloyds Harbor. The amount of spearing here is insane and the stripers are cleaning them up.”
On Wednesday night, Schneider took Bob Thomas of Forest Hills out with a few friends. They worked Yo-Zuri plugs and Zara Spooks to tally 45 stripers from shorts to a 15-pounder. Schneider has been targeting winter flounder with good results when enough fares show on his open boat. He plans to run squid trips starting May 10. Call ahead for sailing times (631-651-8235.)
Catches of bass and bluefish are just getting started at the Jones Beach fishing piers, said Capt. Ed Walsh of Jones Beach Fishing Station. “I know for sure because I caught a short and a keeper myself on bunker chunks,” said Walsh, who also said that a 10-pound fluke hit the pier this week but had to be released because fluke season doesn’t open until May 17.
Other areas of the Island also continue to see fast action with bass and blues, especially the back harbor areas of Stony Brook, Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai. Moriches and Shinnecock bays are also flush with bass and their respective inlets are being visited by blues. On the East End, Jessups Neck has been the hot spot for those with enough boat to get there in windy conditions. If you still want to take a chance on winter flounder, West Channel on Great South Bay is worth a shot.
As for the scup, fear not. Foul weather may have slowed the action for a few days but initial catches were strong and there should be great fishing with plenty of jumbos in the days ahead.