June is a special month for kayak anglers. With mild winds and light boating traffic, productive shallow water action with stripers, blues and fluke tends to be the rule.
"Even better," said Elias Viasberg, with the hint of a smile, "you can fish in comfort because you don't need a dry suit."
Viasberg, a train operator from Brooklyn, is one of the better known kayak fishing specialists in our area. At 27, he's already built a reputation for catching big bass and fluke when others claim tough luck. Back in May, he won the prestigious Kayak Fishing Classic at Jamaica Bay, which is scored on a combined catch of stripers, fluke and blues. He won that tournament last year, too.
"We've been finding the stripers pretty far off the beach," he told me Tuesday as we launched on Jamaica Bay. "They've been holding around humps on the bottom while the bunker are suspending in deeper water nearby."
Viasberg believes some anglers actually fish too close to the baitfish schools when targeting trophy stripers. He notes that big bass, being structure oriented, favor docks, boulders and humps in the vicinity of baitfish -- but they are not necessarily under the schools. Sometimes, he said, they lag behind by 50 yards or more.
"To be successful at kayak fishing -- or any fishing for that matter -- you've got to spend time each day figuring out the predators," he explained, "and you need to put in some hours trying different areas and stalking the bait. That's where kayak fishing really excels. It's the most precise way to follow baitfish wherever they go without spooking them."
Under the morning's overcast skies, Viasberg's points were quickly proven. It took a while for the bunker to tighten up but as they did we snagged several and slow-trolled them on fish-finder rigs to where the bass were stationed. In short order, Viasberg and fishing partner Damon Empfield connected with several stripers to 40 inches, and I drilled a pair as well.
"I experimented with circle hooks for a while," said Viasberg as he removed the shank from a solid 20-pounder, "but I release most of my catch and found those points difficult to get out. So now I use 8/0 octopus style hooks for bass. I also set the hook quickly after getting a bite so the fish doesn't have a chance to swallow it deep. You'll miss some this way, but those you release will be in better shape to survive."
Kayak action around Long Island, like most other fishing right now, is in prime form. Stripers are available in Port Washington, Huntington, Stony Brook and Port Jefferson harbors on the North Shore, and in Great South, Moriches and Shinnecock bays on the South Shore. The same areas also have plenty of fluke and blues, as does Reynolds Channel. You'll also find a ton of blues, plus porgies, in Peconic Bay around Jessups Neck and along the North Fork east of Jamesport.
The Stony Brook Yacht Club Marty Lyons Charity Fluke Tournament is slated for Saturday (631-543-9474) . . . The Suffolk Marine Anglers Striped Bass tournament kicks off from the Babylon Village Dock at 6 a.m. Sunday with weigh-in at 3 p.m. (631-669-0907) . . . The 28th Annual Star Island Shark Tournament (631-668-5052) is slated for June 13-14 at Montauk.