Long Island’s striped bass season is set to open Monday and if recent reports from New Jersey waters are any indication, we should be getting a decent influx of linesiders in our waters just in time for a solid start.
Action in New Jersey’s Raritan Bay had been heating up steadily but it really caught fire over the past several days with bass ranging from schoolies to 35-pound brutes. That puts the bass only a short swim across the New York Bight from the western South Shore and Long Island Sound.
Some are already here. In Jamaica Bay plenty of school bass in the 12- to 20-inch class are on the flats and up tight to shoreline structure.
“The water here is still only 45 degrees,” said Vinnie Campisi at Cross Bay Bait and Tackle in Howard Beach. “But at 50 degrees bigger fish begin to filter into the bay looking for bunker. That should happen over the next week or so. Currently, anglers tossing small swim shads are scoring best in the bay while those dunking clams or casting Daiwa SP Minnows are scoring along the ocean beaches.”
Farther east, Reynolds Channel and the back bay flats inside of Jones Inlet over to South Oyster Bay are also starting to see some action. These are smaller stripers, but they are a blast to cast to with light tackle and small shad bodies.
“Anglers throwing small Keitech swim shads are scoring pretty well,” said Capt. Joey Leggio of Frankie James Fishing Charters in Oceanside. “Half-ounce bucktails tipped with Fat Cow trailers should also work. With either the swim baits or bucktails, throw white, green or olive to match up with the killies and other small baitfish you’ll find deep inside the bays this time of year. Clam-chumming at the Loop, Meadowbrook and Wantagh Bridges should be getting started soon, too.”
A few potential keepers turned up in the western harbors of Long Island Sound earlier this week, according to Blaze Rifino at Duffy’s Bait and Tackle in Glenwood Landing. One angler caught and released several bass to 27.5 inches on bloodworms while another used a Rapala SXR-10 Minnow to tempt four bass from 27 to 32 inches. All were caught within the confines of Hempstead Harbor but under the cover of darkness.
Rifino also said a few keeper winter flounder were culled from the Bar Beach area near Bayville. The season for the elusive flatties closes at the end of May. Anglers can keep two per day with a minimum size limit of 12 inches.
Farther east, anglers plugging after dark or working four-inch swim shads around dusk and dawn continue to connect with resident school bass at the mouths of tidal creeks, especially in the warmer back bay waters of Shinnecock Bay on the South Shore and Port Jefferson and Mount Sinai harbors to the north. It shouldn’t be long before the bigger migratory stripers arrive in these waters as bunker are already starting to trickle into these areas.
If you haven’t already, be sure to enroll in the New York Recreational Marine Fishing Registry before kicking off your salt water fishing season. There’s no fee, but registration is required to fish in New York’s marine waters unless aboard a charter or party boat.