The summer fishing scene is sizzling as we head into Independence Day weekend. From Jamaica Bay to Port Jefferson and out to Montauk and Orient Points, action has in many instances been exceptional. This has been especially true along the South Shore, where local anglers have tangled with bluefish, striped bass, fluke, porgies, school weakfish, kingfish, sea bass and huge blue crabs.
Anglers heading out on Jamaica Bay, for example, have pounded cocktail blues on surface poppers at dawn and on bunker chunks through the day. According to Bill Lynch at Cross Bay Bait and Tackle in Howard Beach, many have also played catch and release with short fluke at the Marine Parkway Bridge and Rockaway Sea Wall. Those choosing to live-line bunker off Rockaway Beach have decked stripers to 40 pounds.
"South Shore fishing is smokin' right now," agreed Bill Witchey at Combs Bait and Tackle in Amityville. "We are in the middle of a tremendous ocean striped bass run between Tobay and Gilgo. Anglers live-lining bunker in the early morning hours have connected with some substantial cows."
On Wednesday alone, Combs weighed five bass of more than 40 pounds. He noted that not every baitfish school holds stripers, so move to the next if your quarry doesn't aggressively respond.
Fluke fishing has also been hot from Jones Inlet back into South Oyster Bay. Those drifting at the Wantagh Bridges, Zach's Bay and Massapequa Cove are averaging 40 summer flatties each trip with a keeper or two up to 7 pounds. Porgies, kingfish and sea bass are stationed around patches of rough bottom. Blue crabs are at all the local docks.
To the east, the waters between Fire Island and Moriches inlets have also been productive. The Captree open boat Captain Gillen has generated plenty of smiles on its three daily trips for fluke. "Tons of fluke are in Great South Bay right now," said captain Patrick Gillen. "Most are shorts but we've had some very nice keepers to 6.5 pounds. That's pretty good for probing calm bay waters."
At J&J Sports in Patchogue, Paul Graniello described local crabbing as the best he's seen in 20 years. "Everyone is catching blue claws at the docks from Oakdale to Bellport," he said. "Use bunker for bait and you'll have huge, tasty crabs in your bucket in a matter of minutes."
On the North Shore, fluke fishing remains solid out of Huntington, Port Jefferson and Mattituck while porgies are in thick and heavy off most points. Fluke at Greenport and Orient continue to run large, if not overly plentiful, and stripers are still slamming bucktails at Plum Gut and The Race.
The big fireworks show at Jones Beach is canceled this year, but several local party boats still plan to head out on Independence Day evening fireworks cruises.
Several vessels in the Captree fleet will head east to see the Grucci fireworks at Davis Park. Freeport's Captain Lou Fleet plans to cruise around watching private firework displays from on the water. On the North Shore, Huntington's James Joseph Fleet will be headed to Oyster Bay for another Gucci show. Expect that reservations are necessary and be sure to check if your favorite party boat is headed out for a July Fourth night of fun.