It may have taken longer than most anglers had hoped, but the salty fishing scene finally came to life this past week with solid action along much of the South Shore, in western Long Island Sound, at Shinnecock Canal and out in Peconic Bay. Best of all, several different species seemed to have arrived in our waters almost simultaneously.
"We've had some good action with bluefish and stripers over the past few days," said a happy Ed Walsh at Jones Beach Fishing Station. "Bluefish to 12 pounds have dominated the action but there have also been some stripers to 30 inches mixed into the catches. Scores have been best at the Construction Dock area of Jones Inlet and at Green Island."
A bit farther east, the Captree fleet and private boaters have been having a blast with smaller blues to 6 pounds, plus a few 30-inch stripers and an occasional weakfish. This action has been centered inside Fire Island Inlet with tins, soft-plastic Bass Assassins and bucktails pulling the most fish. A few winter flounder continue to be picked in Dickersons Channel and off Ocean Beach.
"While boats are scoring up inside Fire Island Inlet, surf fishermen are also enjoying solid action along the open ocean beaches," said Mike McGee at Saltwaters Fishing Tackle and Bait in West Islip. "Tins are working fine, but fishing a chunk of bunker on the bottom is the surest way to connect with the bigger blues and keeper stripers."
The bite has also spread east with bass and blues now in Moriches Inlet, and improving action with everything from porgies and weakfish to stripers and choppers in the Shinnecock area. At White Water Outfitters in Hampton Bays, Mike Madr noted the major predator species have been hanging around bunker schools but have actually favored surprisingly small lures. "You might think with all the big bait around that large plugs and poppers would work," said Madr, "but we've actually seen more consistent catches on smaller rubber swim baits."
The Route 105 area and tidal creeks draining into Peconic Bay have offered decent striper action over the past few days, as has Heddy Creek and the Quogue Canal in the Shinnecock area. Anglers fishing from the banks of the Shinnecock Canal, however, have seen the most variety with school stripers, cocktail blues, porgies and some small weakfish.
Over on the North Shore, Mark McGowan at Cow Harbor Bait and Tackle said striper action is now building steadily in western Long Island Sound with Huntington, Northport, Cold Spring and Hempstead harbors all beginning to produce. "Use something that floats at rest and dives on the retrieve," McGowan suggested for bass.