Mid-June is an interesting period for local anglers because it is a time when the early spring bite melts into summer patterns. In the process, fishermen have a ton of choices, not the least of which is deciding whether to selectively target trophies or enjoy fast fishing with mostly toss backs.
Striper fans, for example, continue to plug and bucktail schoolies inside Moriches, Shinnecock and Great South bays. That's a blast on light gear. Bigger but fewer fish, however, can now be pulled from the bunker schools outside of inlets and harbor mouths, and along the more eastern stretches of the South Fork surf if you wait them out.
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Glenn "The Sandman," a regular to the surf scene at Montauk, is proof positive of that theory. He used a bunker chunk to drag a 53-inch, 51.68-pound striper from the surf at Montauk last Friday night.
"I didn't think I was going to get it in," he chuckled, "because the moon tides had the current ripping. It was the only strike I had all night -- but what a beast!" The massive striper was weighed at Paulie's Bait and Tackle in Montauk.
Matt Eherlich weighed a 52-pounder at Saltwaters Bait and Tackle in West Islip last Saturday. It was caught a mile outside of Fire Island Inlet. Want to hedge your striper bets? Then hit the western Long Island Sound, where 12- to 25-pounders have been exploding on bunker schools between City Island and Hempstead Harbor.
Fluke anglers are basically in the same boat as striper fans these days when it comes to choosing between quantity and quality catches. Hordes of shorts with some keepers have been smacking bucktails on the shallow flats of Shinnecock and Moriches bays. Catches have been even hotter off Sunken Meadow and Port Jefferson. The short-to-keeper ratio is 10 to 1, but many anglers still head home with a pile of fillets.
"If you're in the mood to really mix things up," suggested Capt. Ken Higgins of the Captree open boat Captree Princess, "come out and try for fluke and blues. We're picking the flatties on the better stages of the tide, and hammering choppers from 3 to 12 pounds right up front in Fire Island Inlet."
Bill passes House
The House passed the "Strengthening Fishing Communities and Increasing Flexibility in Fisheries Management Act" on June 1. According to Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley), who voted for the bill, the proposed legislation would provide desperately needed reforms to our current fisheries laws while sacrificing none of the environmental and economic benefits of continuing to rebuild coastal fish stocks.
"This is a big win for Long Island fishermen," Zeldin said. "The reforms in this bill would tie stock rebuilding timelines to species-specific reproduction cycles, allowing fishery managers to effectively rebuild depleted stocks by considering the actual biological and ecological realities of each species, while at the same time providing the flexibility needed to restore economic growth opportunities for our beleaguered fishing communities."
Rigid 10-year periods for rebuilding specified depleted fish stocks were enacted under the current Sustainable Fisheries Act, passed in 1998. Although the bill has helped rebuild some fish populations, since its introduction New York's Marine District has hemorrhaged over 4,000 fishing-related jobs.