Independence Day celebrations will surely see some heavy traffic on Long Island waterways -- from the tall ships in Greenport, fireworks displays around the Island and throngs of beachgoers, to the many pleasure boaters, paddle boarders and kayakers looking for elbow room.
That doesn't seem to have local anglers worried, however, as fishing has been solid on most fronts in recent days and optimism is running high.
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"I wouldn't worry about things getting busy,'' said Capt. Bob Ceglowski aboard the open boat Capt. Bob in Mattituck, as he worked the buoy 5 area off Wading River earlier this week. "Fluking has been super and the bite has been hot throughout the day.''
Indeed, the North Shore stretch from Port Jefferson to Riverhead has seen tremendous action with summer flatties of mixed sizes slamming bucktails. On the South Shore catches have been steady with a generous number of keepers taken by the Captree Fleet, Capt. Lou Fleet and boats working out of Fire Island, Jones, Moriches and Shinnecock Inlets. Greenport and Orient, too, have seen the summer flatties coming over the rail -- along with plenty of porgies on both the Prime Time and Peconic Star fleets.
Striped bass have also picked up the pace. After a spell of tough prospecting with the linesiders, a fresh influx of bigger fish trickled into our waters over the past 10 days. The improvement has been widespread with bass to 50 pounds taken on bunker chunks in western Long Island Sound, 20-pounders falling for live eels in the South Shore inlets, and cows to 39 pounds decked at Montauk. Action in the Sound has been mostly on bunker, while the South Shore and East End have seen the best scores made on live eels after dark.
On the offshore front, tuna action is slowly building at Block Canyon, but catches remain somewhat sporadic with a mix of short bluefin and a few topping 50 pounds. For shark, Richie Rosenkranz at Woodcleft Fishing Station in Freeport said the best bet has been to run 35 to 40 miles southeast of Jones Inlet. "The alternative,'' he suggested, "is to fish much close to port because a few threshers to 400 pounds have come from within 10 or 12 miles of Debs Inlet.''
With heavy boating traffic undoubtedly in play this weekend, anglers looking for an edge should make a serious effort to get out early. The next several days will see rising tides in the morning, which will flood inshore hot spots with refreshingly cool water. Fish from daybreak to noon and you should see the best of the bite with fluke, porgy and blues.
Another option that might help improve your scores is to search out a little elbow room. That may entail taking a longer run to reach less heavily traveled waters on eastern Long Island Sound, or pushing up into the shallow back-bay coves of Great South, Moriches, Shinnecock and Peconic Bays.
Savvy fishermen can also look for spots that are one-off from traditional honey holes. A smaller cut that connects to a popular main channel is a classic example.