Striped bass season opens in Long Island’s marine waters Friday and anglers couldn’t be more ready. With windy weather over the past few weeks, it’s been hard for the fleet to get offshore and chase codfish. Since the bass prefer an inshore route anglers can target them even under inclement conditions in the buffer of a leeward shore.
The arrival of Opening Day doesn’t guarantee the stripers are ready to bite. In fact, it doesn’t even assure there are many around. Still, for anglers dusting off winter’s staleness, any fishing opportunity is welcomed.
In most parts of Long Island, a few schoolies usually remain through the colder months in tidal creeks, harbors and back-bay waters. For many, these will be initial targets. Already, scattered reports of school bass encounters are coming in from Manhasset and Oyster bays, Northport Harbor and the Quogue Canal. Expect that action to build steadily with soft plastic baits like Bass Assassins and Slug-Gos as well as Bomber, Sebile and Yo-Zuri plugs bringing the most success.
The initial blast of bigger bass, fish pushing up into the teens, 20- and sometimes 30-pound class, is likely still a week or two away. These are migrating fish that exit Chesapeake Bay and the Hudson estuary after spawning and spread out along the coast as waters continue to warm.
The bulk of the school fish are still along the New Jersey coast, with some bigger fish to 30 pounds now mixing into Raritan Bay. With mild temperatures expected the rest of the week, action should begin to pick up locally, although the real explosion will have to wait until the bigger bass catch up to the massive schools of adult bunker that has been in our waters for several weeks.
In the meantime, local anglers may have wondered where the codfish have gone. Fishing for the tasty baccala was quite productive through most of March but seems to have slacked considerably over the past week. Skippers making the run from Montauk to the fishing grounds south of Block Island have been marking plenty of bait, but the tasty cod have proved elusive.
Perhaps that’s due to rough seas keeping the fleet from tracking the schools on a daily basis, or it could be that the fish are on the move and already gone. A few days of calmer weather should provide the answer. With a little luck, anglers may have to choose between spending their time greeting the newly arrived linesiders and squeezing in some parting shots at the offshore Winter King. Sometimes, choice is good.
Kayak Fishing Classic
Timed perfectly for the peak of spring striper, bluefish and weakfish action on the West End, registration has begun for the 2016 Kayak Fishing Classic at Jamaica Bay. It’s the largest kayak fishing tournament in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic regions, with over 300 participants.
The charity contest is May 12–15, with proceeds going to Heroes on the Water, The Fisherman Send a Kid Fishing Program, and the Sport Fishing Alliance Education Center (Sweeney Center.) Entry fee is $100, payable on-line only, at www.captainkayak.com. The contest also serves as a qualifier for the 2016 Hobie Fishing World’s Championship (site to be announced).