Depending on where anglers have wet a line in recent days, catches have been quite varied. By and large, action has been good with fluke, stripers and scup, but the flatfish have dominated along the South Shore, and the scup have been the best bet in Long Island Sound.
Consider the catches in Great South Bay, for example. Boaters working from the Fire Island Lighthouse west to the mouth of Fire Island Inlet have enjoyed some very fine fluking with spearing and squid combos working when the current is running strong and white or chartreuse bucktails accounting for the best scores on the softer stages of the tides.
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"We've had tons of action inside the bay most days, with 25 to 40 keeper fluke per half-day trip," said Captain Walter Czekaj of the Captree open boat Fish Finder II. Captain George Bartenback of the Captain Rod, another Captree vessel, agreed, stating that his fares tossed back tons of short fluke while collecting a very respectable 60 keepers on both Tuesday and Wednesday. During the slower stages of the tide, both skippers have headed out into the ocean and worked up some sea bass, too.
Fluking also been ferocious on Moriches Bay. On Thursday morning, Pete Reinaldo and son Matthew teamed up with the father-son team of Tony and Johnny Salerno to deck 14 keepers to 4 1/2 pounds while releasing over 60 shorts. They found hot action with the summer flatties at buoy 15 and at points both east and west.
Backtracking to the West End, Mark Keller at Bay Park Fishing station has seen a steady mix of inshore and offshore species taken by his customers. He noted that the Atlantic Beach Reef has been good for fluke, as have the waters outside of the Marine Parkway Bridge. Nick Sevene of No Time Charters said Keller has been scoring well with stripers on fresh clams and then loading up on ling using Berkley Gulp! while fishing over toward the Verrazano Bridge. The crew of the Offshore Obsession, meanwhile, went 4-for-5 while trolling bluefin tuna.
On the North Shore, porgy fishing continues to please at Cranes Neck, Oldfield Point and the Middle Grounds, according to Stew Cash of the Port Jefferson open boat Osprey. "The slow parts of the tide have produced best," said Cash, "with clams the top bait and some sea bass mixing into the catches. Some of the scup have pushed well over 2 pounds."
Captain Bob Ceglowski of the Capt. Bob Fleet in Mattituck has been concentrating his efforts in deep water to avoid short fluke, working up a daily mix of keeper-sized fluke, bluefish, sea bass and stripers that has kept anglers entertained.
Between the forks, north and south, mixed bag bottom fishing is the best bet, with porgy, kingfish, school weaks, blowfish and snappers all responding with vigor to a chum pot loaded with clam and either a squid strip or clam slice for bait. Set up along a channel edge or hump in 12- to 20-foot depths and get ready to rumble.
There has been one common denominator tying together most of the better catches right now: fishing during the coolest stage of the tide. That's the two hours preceding and following the high water mark. Match this period to a cloudy morning and you'll be off to a good start.