To the surprise of no one who targets black sea bass in the salty waters surrounding Long Island, the season opened with a bang Monday and has been on fire ever since. From Montauk to Freeport and all along the North Shore, limit catches have been the rule.
For those new to fishing or who have yet to give sea bass a try, it bears noting that the true allure of this game isn’t so much in catching the tasty wreck dwellers as in never knowing what’s going to bite next. Sea bass fishing is generally performed over rocky bottom, wrecks and reefs, and connecting with additional species is inherent to this prospecting.
“Mixed-bag” fishing is what we like to call it,” explains Capt. Steve Kearney, who skippers the Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk. “It’s really interesting and fun because you never know what’s coming up when you set the hook. That makes it perfect for introducing families and youngsters to the fishing game.”
Capt. Ken Higgins of the open boat, Captree Pride, agrees sea bass fishing is fun, but he also stresses that it’s productive. “It’s been great every day since the season opened,” he revealed while overseeing catches on Thursday afternoon. “Everybody is catching their sea bass limit (three fish, minimum size 15 inches) while tossing back plenty more. We’ve also seen porgies, ling, bluefish and a few fluke coming over the rails. The rods have been bending all day long and I’m seeing a lot of happy faces.”
The waters outside of Shinnecock Inlet, Moriches Inlet and south of Montauk have also been loaded with sea bass. In fact, if you use a three-hook rig, you might limit-out in one drop to the bottom.
On the North Shore, sea bass have mixed into fluke and porgy catches from Huntington to Mattituck. If you really want to enjoy a little lock-and-load action, however, Evan Askenas of Cow Harbor Bait and Tackle in Northport suggests anchoring up along ledges in 35- to 40-foot depths and dropping clam baits to the bottom.
While the sea bass have been making a big splash because they are finally on the legal menu, catches of other local favorites have been mostly building as we head into the holiday weekend.
Long Island Sound fluke fans, for example, should score well right now with keepers in 30- to 40-foot depths off Crab Meadow or around buoy 9. The western shallows of Shinnecock Bay have offered decent bucktail action with the summer flatties while the rips at Montauk Point have come alive with a steady stream of keepers plus some doormats — at least 10 fish topping 8 pounds were weighed this week.
For stripers, Orient Point continues to be a smart bet with action on diamond jigs during the day and on bucktails after dark. According to Capt. Mike Boccio of the open boat Prime Time 3 and charter vessel Jenglo, sea bass, fluke and porgies have also been plentiful.
There have also been numerous keeper stripers caught on bunker spoons and bunker chunks out of Port Jefferson around buoy 13.
If you enjoy sharking, now would be a good time to make your run. Big makos and threshers are in good supply 25 to 35 miles southeast of Jones Inlet around the Yankee Wreck and Rock Piles.