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Be prepared to fish for the unexpected

Chris Melohusky catches a steelhead trout in Buffalo

Chris Melohusky catches a steelhead trout in Buffalo Creek during the warm winter weather in Elma, N.Y. (March 13, 2012) Credit: AP

In a world in which specialization is more the rule than the exception, many anglers head out with a single target such as stripers or fluke in mind. Yet there are times when it makes sense to be more of a generalist and simply focus on whatever seems most willing to bite.

The past several days have been a case in point. While stripers, fluke and winter flounder have all been in decent supply this spring, they seemed to take a breather in some areas as rain, wind and dropping temperatures engaged our coast. Fortunately, big porgies, aggressive bluefish and even some blowfish and weakfish were willing to fill the gaps.

Along the banks of Shinnecock Canal anglers using squid and spearing combos or small bucktails tipped with spearing when the locks are closed have caught a mix of fluke and bluefish with an occasional weakfish. At the same time, those casting swim shads have scored with bluefish and bass while bottom bouncers presenting small pieces of clam or sandworm have taken home a surprising number of blowfish in addition to some porgies.

On the West End and along the South Shore, anglers working inside the bays have seen a similar mix with fluke leading the parade but bluefish, porgies, school bass and blowfish all making cameo appearances.

Bluefish and stripers have also been on the prowl in Long Island Sound, taking poppers, tins and bunker chunks in Manhasset Bay, inside the Eaton's Neck Triangle, in front of Pryibil Beach, and off of Miller Place. Jumbo porgies have moved in around humps in these areas too, and off of Crane's Neck and Matinecock Point in 15- to 20-foot depths. Fluke, meanwhile, have been especially agreeable in Smithtown Bay, between Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai Harbors, and near buoy 9 off Wading River.

Out in the Peconics, the mixed bag action has ruled supreme. Sure, there has been the usual pick of big fluke from Greenport Harbor, the Oyster Factory and the Greenlawns, but jumbo porgies to 3 pounds, ravenous bluefish to 10 pounds, a sprinkling of blowfish, plus more than a few weakfish have combined to keep anglers plenty busy between strikes from the tasty flatfish. Stripers have also been feeding hot and heavy in Plum Gut.

One angler who stayed the course early this week and did his best to fish through all the complimentary species while focused on fluke was Willie Johnson. The 71-year-old former Patchogue resident, now living in Citrus Grove, Fla., was fishing with his three sons who had split the airfare to fly him up for some fluking, his favorite piscatorial pursuit.

Together, the foursome limited out three days in succession aboard Dennis Johnson's 19-foot Boston Whaler. Topping off the reunion was a 12.5-pound doormat that the eldest Johnson caught on a squid and spearing combo in 55 feet of water in front of Claudio's Dock.

"What a great trip," said the very happy family patriarch. "I've had 8- and 9-pound fluke in the past but this was much bigger. I always took my kids fishing and hunting as they were growing up. We've had some great times on the water and in the field and it's continuing to this very day."

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