It’s been a trying couple of weeks for local anglers. That’s not because the fish haven’t been cooperative but because rough seas caused by hurricanes Irma, Jose and Maria have kept small boats in port. Fortunately, the larger charter and party boats weren’t nearly as bothered by the latest round of swells as was the mosquito fleet. In fact, many managed to put together solid catches of sea bass, porgies, weakfish and blues.
“We haven’t had any trouble getting out lately and the rods have been bending,” said Capt. Jimmy Schneider of the Huntington open boat Capt. James Joseph. He’s been fishing in 25- to 50-foot depths for boat limits of porgies and sea bass with plenty of blues and a daily dose of weakfish weighing 3 to 7 pounds. On Thursday, at least 10 different species including scup, sea bass, kingfish, fluke, bluefish, striped bass, weakfish, blowfish and sea robins hit the deck. “Our fares have been using multi-hook rigs and catching two or three fish at a time,” said Schneider. “The fishing has been really good and weakfish have won several pools. Action has also been lock-and-load on our evening bluefish trips.”
Out at Orient Point, Capt. Mike Boccio of the charter boat Jenglo and open vessel Prime Time 3 was also pleased with his catches. He’s been fishing much deeper — in over 100 feet of water on the eastern Sound — but the effort has been worth it as his customers have limited out on big sea bass each of the past three days.
“These are brutes,” said Boccio of the sea bass. “On Wednesday, we had 20 that weighed in excess of 4 pounds, plus several more that broke the 5-pound barrier. Mixed in have been a few porgy, triggerfish and blues.”
Over on the South Shore, the Captree open vessels Jib IV and Capt. Rod have been staying inside Great South Bay where hi-low rigs baited with squid strips have accounted for a mix of weakfish, porgies, short stripers, bluefish and an occasional triggerfish. A few anglers tossing Bass Assassin soft plastic lures have also scored with schoolie stripers.
“That heave on the ocean looks to be settling down,” said Capt. Steve Kearny of the Point Lookout open boat Super Hawk when we spoke late Thursday afternoon. “That should bode well for mixed-bag bottom action this weekend. We’ve had solid catches with porgy, sea bass, triggers and even a few stripers. It should only get better now that the last of the big storms is moving further out to sea.”
The weakfish bite has been an especially pleasant surprise this September. In addition to Great South and Peconic bays, the weaks in recent days have been hot in Jamaica Bay, around Mount Misery Shoal, and in 30- to 40-foot depths between Eatons Neck and Sands Point on western Long Island Sound.
For anglers serious about catching one of the soft-mouthed predators, simple squid strips on a size 2/0 wide gap hook set three feet above a bank sinker is the standard rig. The weaks will also fall for a half-ounce bucktail tipped with squid or a Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullet in white or pink. You can keep one weakfish per day with a minimum length of 16 inches. There is no closed season for this species.