What a difference a couple of years make when it comes to fishing regulations.
Back in 2009, fluke season abruptly halted with the close of August, leaving many anglers feeling short changed since the summer flatties remained in good supply and September traditionally produced some very big fish. Charlie Nappi’s world record, in fact, a 22-pound, 7-ounce behemoth, was caught at Montauk on Sept. 15, 1975.
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Since then, the season has been gradually lengthened to the end of September and both size and creel limits have been somewhat relaxed. Currently, anglers can keep four fluke per day with a minimum size limit of 19.5 inches.
“That additional month of fishing time,” said Gary Grunseich, of Silly Lily Fishing Station in East Moriches, “can offer a lot of extra satisfaction for fluke fans. We’ve still got plenty of action here on Moriches Bay - just minutes from the dock for our rental skiff patrons. I figure the bite will hold up right through the end of the season.”
The same will likely be the case across much of Long Island, as the summer flatties have provided tons of fun with catches in bay and Long Island Sound waters having an edge over ocean scores to date. This has allowed anglers to target the toothed flounder with relatively light tackle and bucktails/teaser combos tipped with spearing in shallow waters.
“It’s making for a lot of fun this year,” said. Grunseich.
Like the fluke action, catches of school weakfish have been very strong with most measuring 12 to 22 inches. Hot spots have included Northport Bay and Port Jefferson Harbor, Peconic Bay around Robins Island, and off Ocean Beach, Heckscher, Sayville and Patchogue in eastern Great South Bay. Nowhere, however, have the schoolie weaks been feeding more ferociously than in the waters of western Great South Bay and South Oyster Bay.
“Weakfishing and mixed-bag action with blowfish, kingfish, snappers, porgy and even spot, has just been superb,” said Bill Witchey at Comb’s Bait and Tackle in Amityville. “This is great, family-orientated fun. Grab a box of sandworms or squid, anchor in 18- to 25-foot depths, and start catching. The action is spread along Reynolds Channel, inside Massapequa Cove, at the Meadowbrook bridges and off the Jones Beach Coast Guard Station. Some anglers have hooked upwards of 40 fish!”
That’s fast fishing, but keep in mind that weakfish tend to be somewhat fragile. Handle them with care, use fishing pliers to remove hooks, and return your prize to the water as quickly as possible.