What a difference a couple of hot days can make for fish. Only last weekend many parts of Long Island were still registering water temperatures of 55 to 58 degrees. This week temperatures pushed above 60 degrees and fluke, striped bass and tuna came alive.
"Fluke fishing broke wide open here over the past few days," said Captain Mike Vegessi of the Montauk open boat Lazy Bones II. "The action had been a little picky until recently but catches have really picked up and pool winners are ranging from 5 to 8.5 pounds."
One trick Vegessi's anglers have used for bigger fluke is substituting fresh-caught Tommy cod for traditional squid baits. The little codfish lookalikes are caught by jigging Sabiki rigs at the dock before the boat departs.
"We've seen a fluke explosion," said Bob Ceglowski of the Captain Bob Fleet in Mattituck. "The fish are just 20 minutes from the dock. We've had fluke to 8.75 pounds this week."
At Orient Point, anglers aboard the charter boat Prime Time III have seen fluke to 5 pounds while also catching porgies. They've used bucktails to entice stripers to 30 pounds day and night. "It's been good for the whole fleet this week," skipper Mike Boccio said.
Heading west along both the South and North shores, fluke fishing improved. Fishing inside Great South Bay between Fire Island Inlet and Ocean Beach, anglers aboard the Captree open boat Captain Rod enjoyed fast action with the summer flatties, including a few keepers and pool fish to 7 pounds. "The old standbys, spearing and squid, are fooling most of the fish," Captain George Bambenbeck said. Fluke have been lively on the Shinnecock Bay flats and in 40- to 55-foot depths east of Moriches Inlet.
North Shore anglers fishing The Middle Grounds of Long Island Sound between Glen Cove and Eatons Neck have scored stripers using bunker chunks on the bottom in 40- to 60-foot depths. Their South Shore counterparts are live-lining bunker between Debs Inlet and Tobay. The key to hooking ocean bass has been fishing around bunker schools at daybreak.
Offshore, shark seekers have tangled with plenty of blue sharks along the 30-fathom line, while tuna action is building from Chicken Canyon to Texas Tower and The Tip at Hudson Canyon. According to Captain John Raguso of MarCeeJay Sportfishing Charters in Bay Shore, the better catches of 40- to 120-pound bluefin and yellowfins have fallen to trolled spreader bars featuring squids, rainbows and Green Machines.
Comb's Duke of Fluke Fishing Tournament, the largest fluke fishing tourney on Long Island, is scheduled for Saturday. Call 631-264-3525 . . . The Jeremy Hamilton Scholarship Fund Striped Bass and Bluefish Tournament is Saturday. Contact Southold Fish Market at 631-765-3200 . . . The Star Island Shark Tournament at Montauk is slated for June 16-18. Contact starislandyc.com . . . The Showdown at the Shore Fluke and Striped Bass Tournament covers Fire Island Lighthouse to Debs Inlet on June 17-19. Call 631-559-5938.