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Long Island Sound swimming with baitfish thanks to cooler nights

Species are varied with peanut bunker, spearing and bay anchovies paralleling beaches.

While some particularly windy and rainy weather made it tough to get out of port some days this past week, things are looking up with a weekend forecast calling for light winds from the northwest. That timing couldn’t be better, because shore anglers and those boats that did manage to sail found some solid action with a wide range of species. As we slip into October, it appears that local fish populations are ready to rumble.

No doubt, the key to the uptick in local catches has been cooler nights. With temperatures now dropping below the 60-degree mark after dark, massive schools of baitfish have been readily apparent throughout the waters of Long Island Sound, both in deep water and tight to the beach. Even better, the baitfish species are varied with peanut bunker, spearing and bay anchovies paralleling beaches, snappers running rampant at the harbor mouths, and a mix of peanut and adult bunker, plus additional rain bait, getting tossed in the rips off most major points.

All that bait amounts to one giant chum slick draining out of the Sound, as well as from the South Shore Bays. Along the South Shore, false albacore have responded by blitzing at the mouths of Shinnecock, Moriches and Fire Island inlets while blues, some school bass and an occasional keeper striper have patrolled the adjacent bay and ocean waters. Local docks, further back inside the bays, have also seen a mix of snappers, school weaks, small bass and blue claw crabs feeding on a daily basis.

On the North Shore, the exodus of baitfish from the harbors has set the false albacore parade in full swing. From Hempstead Bay all the way east to the North Fork, tight pods of “Fat Alberts” have been cruising at breakneck speed as they tear into baitfish both tight against the beach and out in the rips. The albie action has been best early in the morning and again later in the afternoon with the prime feeding slot between 3 and 5 p.m. Boaters have had some success throughout the day by watching for terns and ‘gulls diving on the breaking fish and cranking up their engines in hot pursuit as soon as a few splashes are evident. Deadly Dicks, Hogy Epoxy Jigs and Daddy Mack Albie Jigs have all had their innings. The North Shore action has also seen some keeper stripers, big blues and a surprising number of 30-inch-plus Spanish mackerel mixing into the scores.

On the bottom-fishing front, both porgies and sea bass remain in good supply over Long Island Sound wrecks and mussel beds, and around the artificial reefs in ocean waters off Shinnecock, Moriches and Jones inlets. Even bigger sea bass, plus some monster triggerfish, have been taken over deeper pieces of structure in 90- to 125-foot ocean depths. Those looking to creel their final fluke of the year need to get out this weekend as Sunday is the last day of the season.

If you still have some free time around your fishing hours this weekend, the Tobay Beach In-water Boat Show is open Friday through Sunday at the Tobay Beach Marina on Fire Island in Massapequa Park. The show runs 12 - 6 p.m. on Friday, and from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.

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