If your neighborhood looks anything like mine, you might be considering fishing this weekend from your basement steps or, perhaps, a front porch. The deluge that poured across Long Island earlier this week wrecked havoc in many quarters and the high waters left behind in local rivers, lakes and ponds will no doubt create some challenging fishing conditions in the short term.
"I'd expect that bass and panfish will move up into flooded areas along the shoreline to take advantage of new feeding opportunities in areas that are usually high and dry," said Charles Guthrie, Regional Fisheries Manager for the Department of Environmental Conservation in Stony Brook,"
That seemed to be the pattern on several lakes I checked out in recently. While the phragmite grasses at the edges of many ponds were flooded by several feet of water, there were a few bass and panfish behind them, often in areas I have never seen hold water before.
Mike Welch, a Shirley resident who is particularly adept at freshwater fishing, took a different approach. He moved away from the shorelines all-together and concentrated his efforts for bass and panfish in completely open water.
"With all the extra depth," said Welch, "the fish schools seem to be widely scattered on the ponds and rivers I've been working. The best way I've found to kick up some action has been to drift across open water channels. When you get a bite, reposition your boat so you can get another cast to the same spot. I haven't found many fish around the usual weed edges and deadfalls. I figure they probably won't move back to those areas until the water returns to more normal levels."
Trout fans might want to do a little extra poking around, too. While local lakes and ponds have been stocked with a mix of rainbows and browns, some of these fish may have moved upstream or downstream to get out of the strong currents. If you are not catching well from the banks of your favorite trout hole, check the stream immediately below any outlet dam and you may find a few fish have tumbled over the spillway and collected in nearby pockets.
Despite all the high water, trout fishing does seem to be off to a reasonable start with decent to good catches reported from West Lake in Patchogue, Lower Lake in Yaphank, Argyle Lake in Babylon, Massapequa Reservoir, and Upper (North) Twin Pond in Wantagh. The tidal waters of the Nissequogue River have also produced well so far. You can check out the entire Long Island trout stocking list at www.dec.ny.gov. Look under "Outdoor Recreation."
To try your luck in freshwater, of course, you'll need a freshwater fishing license ($29). You'll also need the new Marine Recreational Fishing License ($10) to fish in saltwater, which includes brackish waters such as the tidal portions of the Connetquot River, Carmans River and Nissequogue River, all traditional trout hot spots.
On the saltwater front, winter flounder season officially opened on Thursday. Traditionally, early reports with the winter flatties trickle in from Jamaica Bay, Lloyd Harbor, Shinnecock Canal and the Great South Bay flats south of Heckscher Park and Babylon. Under this year's regulations, anglers can creel only two flounder per day. The minimum size limit is 12 inches.