So, it's supposed to be pretty windy heading into this weekend. Already I've heard some anglers expressing trepidation because local fishing, overall, has been pretty solid of late. The worry is that heavy winds may prevent the fleet from getting out to the best spots, or that some rough-and-tumble seas might even move bottom species such as porgy, sea bass and blackfish off the wrecks and reefs.
To be sure, windy weather does present significant challenges, but it's also part of the fall fishing scene and the best anglers simply learn to deal with it. Some even relish it.
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While gusty fall breezes may put long-range trips to the canyons on hold, or keep small boat operators from venturing out into near-shore ocean waters or the middle of Long Island Sound, they also usher in cooler water temperatures, which ultimately should improve an already solid start to the blackfish season.
Additionally, strong winds scuff up the surf, tossing baitfish in the wash and ringing the dinner bell for aggressive bluefish and more cautious but often larger striped bass. This is especially so when the breeze come from the northwest, as the forecast currently suggests. In fact, it's exactly what's needed to draw predators tight to the beach between Shinnecock and the West End.
As things stand right now, blackfishing has been a solid prospect along the South Shore with strong action on the ocean reefs and wrecks, but also tight to the abutments at both the Robert Moses and Ponquogue bridges. Kismet Reef, in Great South Bay, has also produced a decent bite. From shore, the rock jetties at Fire Island, Moriches and Shinnecock inlets are also worth a try.
North Shore blackfishing is off to a decent start as well. While a lot of anglers are still piling up fillets from porgies and sea bass, those who have concentrated on the 'tog are scoring best in 20- to 30-foot depths off prominent points like Cranes Neck, Matinecock Point, Eatons Neck and Hortons Point. The waters around Fishers Island have also produced exceptionally well.
As for surf fishing, consider any strong winds an opportunity to encounter big fish this weekend. If the surf is too messy on the South Shore, then head to the north side of the Island. In either case, you should find diamond jigs, surface poppers and cut bunker to the liking of bass and blues. For the choppers, work your lures at a quick pace. To cull a striper from schools of blues, try a medium to slow retrieve that drops your offering below the more aggressive blues.
Surfcasters looking to enjoy a little friendly competition this weekend can sign up for the annual South Shore Surf Fishing Classic, sponsored by The Fisherman Magazine and Long Island State Parks. The tourney runs from noon Friday through noon on Sunday. Registration is $15, in person, at Captree Bait and Tackle, by 9 a.m. Saturday.
The annual Fall Family Fishing Festival at Hempstead Lake State Park is Saturday from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m. This festival combines the opportunity to fish for freshly stocked brook and rainbow trout with a variety of children's activities. A freshwater fishing license is not required for this free event. For more info, contact NYSDEC at 631-444-0283 or Hempstead Lake State Park at 516-766-1029.