Go deep to beat the heat. That’s a long-held truism amongst fishing sharpies and it’s great advice at the moment. With air temperatures pushing between 80 and 90 degrees over the past week, water temperatures have risen steadily and that has sent the best representatives of local fish populations looking for deep-water relief.
South Shore bottom-fishing crews have improved their chances by heading toward inlet and ocean waters. The for-hire fleet and even many private boaters working between Point Lookout and Shinnecock Inlet have raced for the nearest wrecks to be rewarded with black sea bass, ling, red hake, plus some fluke in the 5- to 6-pound class. Those who continue targeting summer flatties inside Great South, Moriches and Shinnecock bays have done best by fishing early in the morning or on cool, incoming tides.
South Shore striper fans have also had to look deeper to keep catching. “At this point,” said Matt Colvin at “J&H” Tackle in Oakdale, “your best bet for linesiders ranging from schoolies to 15-pounders is to clam-chum at the inlets and bridges. For bigger fish that might push into the 30-pound class, stick with the bunker schools in 60 feet of ocean water.”
For overall inshore action it’s tough to beat Montauk right now. Jutting out into the ocean as it does, this fishing mecca offers both cool, refreshing tides and plenty of depth; two primary ingredients necessary to score in the heat of summer. Big fluke — including a few double-digit doormats — have been hitting under the radar tower in 40- to 50-foot depths while stripers to 40-plus pounds are in the rips under the lighthouse and at The Elbow. The stripers are active both day and night with live eels the best bait, according to Chase Darenberg at Montauk Marine. For fun mixed-bag action with fluke, sea bass and scup, Darenberg suggested trying The Frisbees or Shagwong Reef.
On the North Fork at Orient Point, Steve Sponza from WeGo Fishing in Southold said anglers using Berkley Gulp! Sapphire Shine Sand Eels in 40-foot depths around Gardiners Island were scoring well with fluke, many in the 4- to 7-pound class. “There’s a nice set of stripers at the Race, too,” he added.
Along the North Shore, stripers to 20 pounds have been picking up bunker chunks fished inside Northport Bay and Huntington Harbor while fluke have been hot for squid and spearing baits or Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullets fished on high-low rigs.
Best of the action with the summer flatties has been around Eatons Neck where you’ll find porgies and sea bass also available, said Jack Karmen of The Campsite Sport Shop in Huntington Station. “For bigger stripers,” advised Karmen, “head for deep water in the middle of the Sound. For larger fluke, ensure you are drifting in at least 50-foot depths.”
Anglers sailing out of Port Jefferson and Miller Place continue to pull stripers from the Middle Grounds, said Jim Flora at Miller Place Bait and Tackle, but the late shift has been most productive. One angler last Friday took a 42-pounder on a bunker chunk — at 3 a.m.
“For fluke,” said Flora, “there’s plenty of action around buoys 5 and 7, but there’s also a lot of shorts there. A run out to 60-foot depths will find fewer bites but more keepers.”