If you’ve been waiting for the perfect time to get serious about your fall season, now is the time to make your move. After some rough and tumble weather the past couple of weeks, the seas have finally settled, allowing anglers to get out and do a thorough search for action. What they’ve found is super fishing for stripers along Long Island’s South Shore and solid blackfishing in Long Island Sound.
The striper fishing has been especially productive when the fleet has been able to get out with a huge body of fish setting up on sand eels off Fire Island and Jones Inlets. The striper run started to hit full stride about two weeks ago but was interrupted by fierce winds and some rainy weather. Since the breezes have subsided, however, this run has resumed and even increased with many fish in the 12- to 20-pound class being caught.
Private, charter and party boats accessing the ocean via Fire Island Inlet have generally found the most consistent action to the east between Fire Island Lighthouse and Atlantique. Those sailing out of Jones Inlet have found some fish to the east and some to the west. In both cases, diamond jigging has been the surest way to connect with anglers dropping the tubeless jigs to the bottom, cranking 10 turns of the reel handle at a moderately fast pace, and then allowing the jig to free-fall back to the bottom before repeating the process.
Many private and charter crews, however, have enjoyed using lighter tackle, popping plugs or large soft-plastic shads. White has been the most productive color with the soft-bodied lures.
Of course, there has been some striper action in other areas. On the North Shore, bass ranging from schoolies to 20 pounds, as well as a few blues, have fallen to poppers worked inside Huntington Harbor and Hempstead Bay. Smaller schoolies in the 16- to 24-inch class have been abundant, too, along the beaches around the Nissequogue River, Sunken Meadow, Rocky Point, Wading River and Mount Sinai shores. Surf action with a mix of false albacore and school bass on the North Fork was just catching fire right before the last round of wind and rain came through last Wednesday but has yet to fully rebound. With any luck, that bite should resume in the next day or two.
As for blackfishing, the tasty tautog have been feeding steadily in 12- to 30-foot depths throughout Long Island Sound. Many serious North Shore blackfish fans have been taking advantage of the shallow water bite to tempt their targets using blackfish jigs tipped with green crab, and those fishing deeper water out of Orient or over South Shore ocean structure have used standard bottom rigs adorned with halved or quartered green crabs as bait.
For those new to the blackfish jigging game, it’s important to note that the technique’s name does not match the presentation. Although a crab or piece of crab is impaled on a jig-style hook, the idea is to keep the bait in touch with the bottom as much as possible. While it’s OK to gently inch your jig and bait across the sea floor, there is no true “snap,” sharp lifting or fast-paced bouncing of the jig imparted. In fact, those who actively work their jigs the least tend to end the day with the most significant scores.