Bunker schools have been dotting the near shore ocean waters between Jones and Moriches Inlets for weeks now, but the big stripers anglers hoped would be on the silvery baitfish proved scarce. That all changed in the past week as scores of linesiders weighing 30 to 40 pounds slammed the South Shore. Some were even bigger.
“Bob Bauer of Deer Park weighed in a 54.3-pound cow last Saturday,” Mike McGee at Saltwaters Bait and Tackle in West Islip said, “and his fishing partner John Maio of Islip released one that weighed 62 pounds on the boat scale. That’s some day on the water!”
Indeed it was. Along with Adam Pfizer, Bauer and Maio accounted for eight stripers weighing more than 40 pounds. All fell for live bunker. Hat’s off to Bauer for releasing his personal best and, possibly, the biggest striper caught in Long Island waters so far this year.
The cow bass bite continued hot and heavy last Sunday, as the top two finishers in the 10th Suffolk Marine Spring Striped Bass Tournament (http://www.suffolkanglers.com/tournaments) drilled 50-pounders and the top eight fish all weighed more than 39 pounds. Carl Vik of Islip took the title with a 51-pound brute and Matt Walsh of Bayport finished in the sliver slot with a 50.08-pound striper. The charity tournament raised more than $7,000 benefiting the Hospice Care Network Children’s Bereavement Fund.
Continuing with the big fish parade, Brian Murn, from West Islip, on Tuesday drilled a 61-pounder in just 20 feet of water at New Inlet, That fish, officially weighed at Bergen Bay Docks in West Babylon, also ate a bunker.
No doubt they’ll be plenty of bass fans on the water this weekend with a rare rain-free forecast on the board. That can have a negative effect on the action if too many captains roar up to the schools and scatter the bait.
“There are bunker and bass spread over a wide area right now,” Capt. Al Lorenzetti of the Babylon charterboat Skimmer (www.skimmeroutdoors.com), a true striper sharpie, said. “Approach the baitfish schools slowly and quietly so you don’t spook them, that’s one key to keeping the bite alive.”
McGee agreed that keeping things stealthy is the route to bigger fish. “Instead of mixing in with all the other boats, go find your own pod of bunker that have roamed a little bit off the beaten track,” he advised. “Also, don’t stay with one pod of bunker all day waiting for a bite. If you don’t connect in a reasonable amount of time, look for another pod that seems more skittish. That’s a sure sign some big fish are lurking below.”
While catches of big linesiders have been hot off the South Shore, there have been decent scores at Montauk, as well. There is also a solid bite of bass ranging from keepers to 25 pounds between Orient Point and The Race. Long Island Sound striper action is heating up too, especially on the Middle Grounds for boats sailing out of Huntington Bay, Oyster Bay and Hempstead Bay.
Porgies remain ravenous both in the Peconics and along Long Island Sound beaches. Best bets for fluke include Bug Light on the North Fork, Eaton’s Neck out of Port Jefferson, Hart’s Cove in Moriches Bay, west of Ponquogue Bridge in Shinnecock Bay, and in 50- to 80-depths in ocean waters.