It’s been an interesting July so far on the fishing front. With mild winds and warm temperatures, the standard forecast should be to watch out for the summer doldrums. That’s the mid-summer stretch when warm water tends to dampen the bite with some of Long Island’s most popular sportfish including stripers and fluke.
So far, however, the warm days seemed to have helped the action. Take striped bass, for example. Although the bite has slowed along much of the South Shore and inside the North Shore harbors, the run of big bass now in the rips at Montauk is epic. The past two weeks have seen 30- to 40-pound linesiders hit the deck daily, along with numerous cow bass weighing over 50 pounds.
Most of this action has been taking place after dark with anglers drifting live eels in the rips around Montauk Lighthouse, but there also have been instances of big bass busting up schools of bunker during daylight hours in the ocean waters between Shinnecock Inlet and Montauk Village, and the charter and private boat fleet continues to hook-up during the day on trolled parachute lures and live-lined legal-sized scup. Surf fishing for the linesiders has also been solid along Montauk’s South Side, with Super Strike darters and needlefish turning the heads of bass to 30 pounds on incoming water, according to Paulie Apostolides at Paulie’s Tackle in Montauk.
One other place where stripers seem to be hitting especially well is around buoy 11B. Capt. Jimmy Schneider’s Huntington-based charter vessel, James Joseph III, used diamond jigs there to connect with more than 40, ranging from shorts to 32-inches, on Wednesday. The bass and some big fluke, have been feeding on butterfish noted the skipper.
Fluke sometimes take a bit of a breather right about now but after a sluggish start along both the mid-Island South Shore and North Shore stretches, a fresh batch of fish seems to be sliding into place. Fishing for the summer flatties inside Great South Bay between Fire Island Lighthouse and Fire Island Inlet, and in the western end of the bay in Reynolds Channel and Jones Inlet, seemed to pick up the pace over the past few days with an improvement in both the quality and quantity of catches.
Other fluke hot spots at the moment include buoys 5 and 7 between Wading River and Mattituck Inlet, the Obstruction Buoy off Eaton’s Neck — where Schneider’s open boat the Capt. James Joseph II drilled a 10.5-pounder on Thursday (7/12) — and Gin Beach in Montauk. At that last location, surfcasters have been tossing 1-ounce Spro bucktails tipped with 4-inch Berkley Gulp Swimming Mullets for fast action and a respectable keeper ratio.
As for other options, porgies and sea bass scores remain solid on just about any piece of ocean or Long Island Sound structure located in 20- to 80-foot depths. Snappers also have begun to show at the docks, although most are still too tiny to be worth harvesting.
To clarify a point some anglers seem to have confused in recent days, the DEC’s recent announcement of a commercial fluke fishery closure in State waters beginning Sunday and lasting through the end of the month affects commercial fishing only. It does not apply to recreational anglers or the party and charter boat industry.