With the start of June, pretty much all local spring and summer inshore fish species are now in play, except for the tasty but out of season black sea bass. That’s ironic, of course, as this is one local fish population that seems to be abundant, has been declared fully restored by fisheries managers and, in years past, was commonly used to fill the gaps when fluke, scup and other bottom species faltered.
If you relish a black sea bass dinner, you’ll have to wait until July 15 to catch your own. Fortunately, most other local targets are in pretty good supply right now, although various species are biting best in different areas.
Take striped bass, for example. Action at Montauk has been only fair, and bluefish have made getting a bait or lure to them difficult in the Shinnecock area. At Orient Point, however, scores have been steady with keepers to 20 pounds plus the occasional 30-pounder falling to bucktails at night and diamond jigs during daylight hours.
Farther west, Mark McGowan at Cow Harbor Bait and Tackle in Northport noted the bass are currently sliding out of the backwaters of Northport Bay, Huntington Harbor and Hempstead Harbor and towards the Sound entrances to these waterways. School bass are still smacking soft-plastic lures, but the bigger fish are favoring bunker heads fished right on the bottom.
On the West End, school stripers are still responding to soft-plastic lures and jerk baits. The larger fish had been slamming Mojo rigs trolled in ocean waters, but that action has switched over to trolled TGT and Tony Maja bunker spoons in green/white or yellow/white. There is also a good supply of school bass for clam-chummers at the State Channel crossings and Robert Moses Bridge in Fire Island Inlet.
Fluke action has also been rewarding in general. Again, Montauk seems to be off to a slower start than expected but catches there are starting to pick up. For a shot at a doormat, Greenport and the waters of Peconic Bay that surround Shelter and Robins islands remain your best bet, although some nice fish have also been decked inside of Moriches Bay on bucktails.
Fluke fans probing Shinnecock, Great South Bay and the State Channel down through Jones Inlet are picking away with a mix of shorts and keepers, but spearing and squid strip combos have offered the best chances.
For faster fluke action with a surprising number of keepers in the mix, hit the North Shore from Huntington east to Riverhead. Scores in this stretch have been best in 20-foot depths on bucktails tipped with Gulp! Swimming Mullets or Gulp! Shrimp and a small teaser positioned a foot above the jig. The real secret? Look for pockets and drop-offs within the 20-foot range and work them hard. The biggest fluke in this area seem to be hanging around the OB buoy and Buoy 13 — both places where drop-offs abound.
By now, many anglers have filled their freezers with Peconic Bay porgies. That action remains unabated, and Cherry Harbor has come alive as well. If you still want to load up with the silver-sided slabs you can now find them off most Long Island Sound points west of Rocky Point. Eatons and Cranes Neck are two reliable spots worth trying.