Most years, the arrival of Labor Day weekend sees local fish populations begin to break from their summer routine and shift into more of a fall pattern. With exceptionally warm water temperatures and no end to summer weather in sight, it looks as though August fishing patterns are likely to hold for at least a few more weeks.
That should sit well with local anglers as action with everything from fluke, sea bass and porgies to snappers, bluefish and blue crabs remains in prime form.
Fluke action continues to be the inshore highlight and it probably will remain on top until the season closes September 21. The key is to time your trip for the start of incoming water and hit Long Island Sound from Port Jefferson west, the ocean waters off the West End and South Shore, and Montauk’s Inner Cartwright Grounds, where anglers continue to see consistent catches with doormats appearing daily.
Among the flatfish highlights this past week has been some fine fishing aboard the open boat Captree Pride. “On days with good drifting conditions,” said Captain Ken Higgins, “we’ve seen up to 250 fluke with some limits and a lot of fish between 3 and 8 pounds. If the drift is too fast and the fluke action tails off, we take a ride further offshore and hammer keeper sea bass. ”
North Shore fluking has been especially good at the Middle Grounds and around Kings Point. John Richy at Terminal Tackle in Kings Point noted there are more shorts than keepers in the shallows, but bigger fish can be found on structure in 40- to 60-foot depths. “The way to get those big flatties this time of year,” revealed Richy, “is to use live snappers measuring 4 to 6 inches.”
Some years, it seems that catching Sound snappers for bait is more difficult than hooking the doormats themselves, but not this summer. Right now there are plenty of inside Hempstead, Northport, Huntington, Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai harbors. You’ll find them off the beach at Sunken Meadow, too.
Of course, if the fluke decide not to cooperate, North Shore anglers still have plenty of porgies and sea bass on which to fall back. The scup, a mix of shorts and keepers, are stationed off every prominent point from Manhasset to Orient. The sea bass are best targeted in 40-foot depths around structure. Try for them during the slowest portions of the tide if you want to actually avoid the porgies for a while.
Getting back to the South Shore, fluking is now steady east of Shinnecock Inlet in about 50 to 60 feet of water. Summer flattie action has been picking on the West End, too, with shorts inside of Jones Inlet but a steady pick of keepers in 30- to 50-foot depths west of Debs Inlet and up along the edges of Ambrose Channel.
Snappers and blue claw crabs can be found at almost any South Shore dock between Center Moriches and Copiague. You’ll do best to try for either at the start of incoming water.
If you are looking to refresh your plug bag, upgrade your tackle or simply learn a few new tricks from Long Island’s best known surf fishing experts, make plans to check out The Fisherman Magazine’s Surf Fishing Seminar and Consumer Show at the Hilton Long Island Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. It will feature more than 25 instructional clinics manned by today’s top surf fishing authorities. There will also be specialized fishing instruction and exhibits from over 85 manufacturers and retailers. Call 631-345-5200 for the details.