It wasn’t long ago that midsummer was considered prime time for porgies. Over recent years that magic slot has shifted to May as slab-sided scup measuring up to 21 inches have invaded the waters of Peconic Bay.
“There’s no doubt the scup are here,” said Capt. Paul D. Ripperger while fishing aboard Capt. Mike Boccio’s Orient Point open boat Prime Time 3 on Thursday. “We’ve marked piles of porgies on the bottom, but cool water temperatures have them still biting a bit tentatively. Stay focused, though, and you’ll do pretty well. Sharpies have been catching their limit with regularity.”
Count Ripperger among the pros. He’s been out every day since the season opened on Monday, with limit catches of 30 fish plus plenty of toss backs on each trip. Most of his scup have measured 12 to 16 inches long, well above the 10-inch minimum size.
“We’ve had some really big ones mix in already,” said Ripperger, whose top keepers on opening day weighed in at 3 pounds, 13 ounces and a whopping 4 pounds, 1 ounce. “The key has been to bring fresh, unsalted clams for bait, fish with as light gear as practical, and use a slow lift to entice your quarry.”
Generally speaking, the porgy run hits full stride in Peconic Bay around May 10, so you’ve still got time to ready your gear. In a sure sign that other species are also awakening, Prime Time 3 customers this week also released several doormat fluke, caught a dozen stripers, including four keepers to 32 inches, and iced a 2.5-pound winter flounder.
Fish populations in other parts of Long Island also seem to be awakening. In Great South Bay, big bluefish to 15 pounds have been making random appearances at docks between Islip and Patchogue while striped bass have swarmed around Smiths Point Bridge and Fire Island Inlet.
“We’ve had some solid striper fishing on day and evening trips this week,” said Capt. Walter Czekaj of the Captree open boat Fishfinder II. Clam chum and fresh clam baits have fooled bass to 18 pounds at Robert Moses Bridge and Fire Island Inlet. There have also been blues to 10 pounds in the mix. Wednesday night saw the boat pull a full limit of stripers to 16 pounds.
On the North Shore, some larger stripers to 25 pounds are beginning to hit on bunker chunks inside Cold Spring Harbor. There’s also a mix of shorts and keepers in the back harbor marsh areas of Northport Bay according to Mark McGowan at Cow Harbor Bait and Tackle. Toss these fish a 3 1⁄2-inch Creek Chub popper for explosive results.
On the West End, stiff winds this week clouded the water and kept striper action along the ocean beaches to a minimum. Still, anglers who tried their luck at the Jones Beach fishing piers managed to score with bluefish.
“The choppers are roving around,” noted Theo Zmach at Causeway Bait and Tackle. “Let your bunker chunk sit on the bottom and wait them out.”
n Free casting clinic
ODM rods is hosting a free casting clinic at Crab Meadow Beach Sunday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. All are welcome to stop by and learn techniques for improving casting distance and accuracy. You’ll also be able to check out ODM’s latest rods.