Few anglers are fans of heavy rain, but you’d be surprised at the mixed reactions when the discussion shifts to strong winds. While boaters are generally bothered by the need to stay tied to the dock, many surfcasters relish a chance to step into a rising surf or cast during the hours immediately preceding or following a storm.
While gale-force winds can shut down just about any fishing activity, they can also reset the stage; refreshing the surf, redistributing baitfish and stimulating species like stripers, blues and false albacore to go on a feeding binge. Stiff onshore winds drive baitfish into the wash, drawing bigger fish tight to the beach in hot pursuit. During the fall when both baitfish and predators are heading south, the action can be explosive.
That’s just what many in Long Island’s surf fishing fraternity are hoping will happen following the wet and windy weather predicted today and tomorrow. The timing is right, the water temperatures are cooling off nicely, and there have been indications of an improving bite along both North and South Shore beaches in recent days.
“I’d head to Shinnecock or Montauk if it isn’t too nasty out,” advised Matt Colvin at J & H Tackle in Oakdale. “That’s where the surf action has been best in recent weeks and a little rough weather might even help. Shinnecock has false albacore at the inlet jetties and Montauk has offered action with bass. The albies have been smacking small tins while the stripers have favored bucktails. Immediately before or after this weather front moves though, however, you might want to toss something big and blue to imitate the mullet that have been hugging the coastline.”
At Saltwaters Tackle in West Islip, Jose Santiago suspected the northeast winds would make Democrat Point a good choice. “There are plenty of peanut bunker and some mullet swimming off the beaches there,” he noted, “The stiff breezes are likely to drive that bait up against the shore.”
That’s where the bass and blues should be waiting — right in the suds. White 1.5-ounce bucktails tipped with pork rind, Otter Tails or Fat Cow trailers should get you into the action. Soft-plastic swimming shads are likely to work well, too — if you can cast them far enough to get out past the breakers.
Over at Miller Place Bait and Tackle, Jim Flora noted that those northeast breezes will be blowing right in the face of surfcasters on Long Island Sound. “Tuck into a cove — like the one at the back of Mount Sinai Harbor — to get out of the wind,” he suggested. “The North Shore action in this area has been picky of late but the strong winds should keep the baitfish pinned up inside the harbor. That could trigger a decent bite if you fish early or at dusk and toss a Daiwa SP Minnow.”
On the West End, Rob Greco of Long Island Outdoorsman in Rockville Centre suggested surfcasters try their luck at Jones Beach Field 6 or the West End jetty. “We’ve been getting a lot of reports of surf fishermen catching six to eight schoolie stripers per trip on white bucktails. Get out with lures before the surf builds too high, then switch to clam baits as the seas calm down,” he said.