Given the choice of a warm spell or a cold snap, most Long Island anglers would probably choose the latter during August. That’s because hot, muggy days can quickly drive up water temperatures in the South Shore bays and Long Island Sound, which often dampens the bite with fluke, stripers, porgies and sea bass.
This year, however, the inshore fishing has picked up during what would normally be considered the dog days of summer. In fact, over the past two weeks, it has improved almost on a daily basis. Consider fluke catches, for example. Smaller fluke were missing in action for much of July in many areas but are now firmly established in Great South Bay, Moriches Bay and Shinnecock Bay. Most are still too small to bring home, sometimes falling several inches shy of the legal 19-inch limit, but at least there seem to be plenty around to bend the rods.
Even better, bigger fluke continue to put on a show both in the ocean waters south and east of Montauk, and to the west of Jones Inlet on the Cholera Banks. Both areas have seen numerous 6- to 10-pound doormats hauled from the bottom on bucktails tipped with salmon-colored Berkley Gulp! Grubs. Over the past few days, that action has even spread to within reach of the Captree Fleet. The key has been to run deep as the best scores in all three areas have come from 70–100-foot depths.
Bluefish have also arrived on the scene in most areas. Largely lacking from most ports earlier in the season, 4- and 6-pounders have moved into Long Island Sound, replacing scattered schools of cocktails in the 1- to 2-pound class. Action has been solid on the Middle Grounds about a half-hour run from Port Jefferson, all the way west to the Throgs Neck area, and even to the east at Goldsmiths Inlet. There are bigger blues on the south side, too, with fish to 10 pounds making occasional forays into Fire Island and Moriches inlets on rising tides.
Not to be outdone by the choppers, solid stripers to 15 or 20 pounds have been the rule for the Orient Point fleet. Working night tides with live eels and bucktails, anglers have been culling keepers from among shorts with most taking home their one fish limit. Some big blues have also shown at this port, taking bunker chunks, smashing bucktails and chopping eels in half. At the same time, even bigger bass, some pushing through the 40-pound class, have settled in at Block Island where they have been rewarding captains willing to make the run.
There are plenty of stripers on the Middle Grounds of Long Island Sound, too, and along some of the ledges between Huntington and Eatons Neck Triangle. Most of these have been falling to cut bunker on the bottom but a few have been plugged in shallow water tight to shore under the cover of darkness.
Joining the ranks of new arrivals over the past few days have also been false albacore and Atlantic Bonito. Both species like warm waters but they don’t usually arrive for another week or two. Interestingly, they popped up at opposite ends of the Island with the albies showing under Montauk Light and the bonito blitzing at Debs Inlet.