It’s usually about this time of year that Long Island’s inshore scene begins to stagger from that dreaded fishing slowdown known as the summer doldrums. With an extra dose of high heat and humidity for much of the past week, many anglers expected the bite with stripers, fluke, scup and even black sea bass to take a hit. Turns out nobody told the fish they were supposed to chill.
That’s certainly the case at Montauk, where the powerful run of big fluke and stripers that has elated anglers for nearly a month continues unabated. The linesiders are still inhaling live bunker, eels and bunker chunks while the summer flatties offer limit catches and the chance at a dream doormat weighing 8 pounds or more.
Montauk has undoubtedly dominated the fluke scene in terms of big fish, but the West End ocean fluke bite has also been outstanding. Quite a few fish in the 4- to 6-pound class have been hauled from Ambrose Channel and the 50- to 70-foot depths outside of Jones Inlet.
One of the bigger West End doormats to be decked in recent years was the 12-pound, 11-ounce brute weighed at Woodcleft Fishing station late last week by Capt. Mike Barnett of the Freeport charter vessel Codfather. That rug, the biggest ever decked by the full-time charter skipper, came from 60 feet of water.
Fire Island Inlet and Great South Bay have also witnessed an uptick in fluke action. “It’s unusual to get a fresh body of fish moving into the bay during a heat wave,” said Captain George Hubert of the Captree open boat Capt. Speedy, “but that’s what seems to be happening. Trips that match up with the cooler water of flood tides have done particularly well with plenty of rod-bending action.”
Patrick Gillen, skipper of the Capt. Gillen, another Captree open boat, agreed with Hubert. “We’ve had some good innings with fluke on the last of incoming and start of outgoing water,” he revealed. “Wednesday’s pool fish was a nice 6-pounder. Berkley Gulp! and spearing combos have produced the best scores.”
Fluke fishing has generally run fair to lackluster in Long Island Sound waters of late, although there are some keepers to be had along ledges in the 50-foot depths around buoy 11 and near the mouth of Cold Spring Harbor. Better has been the scup fishing off prominent points like Matinecock, Cranes Neck, Eatons Neck and Horton’s Point. There are also some large blues now in the North Shore harbors stalking bunker pods. Port Jefferson has produced some very solid catches in the early morning before boat traffic makes the predators skittish. The same scenario holds for Huntington Harbor and Northport Bay.
Peconic Bay, not generally a hot spot for anything in late July, is experiencing a fine run of summer school weakfish weighing 2 to 5 pounds that have been hammering squid strips inside Noyack Bay.
Not to be overlooked, of course, are summer run snappers. The juvenile bluefish are now inside all the South Shore bays as well as North Shore harbors, plus in the curls along most Long Island Sound beaches. At 5 to 7 inches long, they are just about big enough for a fish fry — and the perfect size for doormat fluke bait should you decide to make the run.