After a relatively slow start, local fishing action picked up some steam on several fronts during the last few days. Until recently, the western end of Long Island had clearly seen the better scores, but catches to the east are now building as well. Still, for a mix of winter flounder, striped bass, and fluke caught on vessels possessing RSA (Research Set Aside) permits, the West End and South Shore continue to lead the charge. Most surprising has been a significant upturn in winter flounder action.
"We absolutely crushed the winter flatties at the Coney Island flats on Tuesday," said happy Joey Leggio from East Rockaway. Fishing aboard Captain Marty Feuer's 55-foot Viking, with Jessie Rosner and Brian Fuces, Leggio limited out with fat black-back flounder to 2 pounds, 14 ounces. "We pulled a full boat limit on incoming tide while using heavy clam chum in about 15 feet of water," he said, "Everything we caught was fat and hungry."
Mark Keller, proprietor of Bay Park Fishing Station in Oceanside, also noted a significant improvement in winter flounder catches. "We've seen solid scores from Jamaica Bay with the best action on sandworms and clam baits," he said. "Striper action is growing more consistent, too, especially in Hewlett Bay and Woodsburgh Channel where the bass are responding well to those using clam chum and clam baits."
Keller added that West End anglers running over to New Jersey's Raritan Bay continue to do a bang-up job on combo trips for flatties and bass, with boat limits for both species not uncommon. Captain Nick Sevene of the Oceanside charter vessel No Time has done just that on several occasions over the past week, decking stripers to 20 pounds and winter flounder to a whopping 3.6 pounds and 20 inches in length.
Catches of winter flounder have also improved in the waters of Huntington Harbor, Setauket Harbor and on the flats of Northport Bay. There have been a few decent scores reported, too, from the Jones Inlet piers and waters of Great South Bay, especially on the Heckscher Flats.
Fluke fishing is still limited to open boat action aboard vessels with RSA permits, but catches picked up sharply this week with good scores out of Freeport aboard the Starstream VIII, inside Great South Bay on various Captree Fleet boats including the Capt. Gillen, Island Princess, Capt. Rod, and Laura Lee, and boats sailing out of Moriches Inlet.
As for the stripers, anglers using Bass Assassins are now scoring on a regular basis in back bay waters from Massapequa to Oakdale, around Smiths Point Bridge, and in the tidal creeks of western Shinnecock Bay. A few weakfish to 4 pounds have mixed in with the schoolies.
Sign-up for fishing fun
This year's "Kayak Fishing Classic On Jamaica Bay" tournament is scheduled for Wednesday through Sunday with Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn serving as home base. The contest doubles as one of only four qualifying events in the United States for the 2014 Hobie Fishing Worlds Championship to be held in Amsterdam this October. Stripers, weakfish and fluke are the focus. Register at captainkayak.com.
River Bay Outfitters in Oceanside is offering a free "Introduction to Saltwater Fly Fishing" class on Wednesday. The session runs from 7:00 to 9:30 p.m. Call 516-415-7748 to reserve a seat.