By most accounts, spring fishing season has gotten off to a tepid start. Water temperatures remain chilly and there almost seems to be a malaise among local anglers still trying to shake the effects of a prolonged winter combined with a fatiguing hangover from the effects of superstorm Sandy.
Be that as it may, ornamental cherry and pear trees are in full bloom across Long Island, daffodils dot local lawns and the bright yellow hues of chrysanthemum bushes are already beginning to fade. That can only mean from a piscatorial perspective that local favorite fish species must already be here and ready to chew as the arrival of stripers, the peak of winter flounder season, the pre-spawn bite of bluegills and initial encounters with chopper blues and weakfish all usually coincide with these blossoming events. Add in that striper season has been open for two weeks, and fluke season begins Wednesday, and it should be apparent our local scene probably isn't lacking for fish as much as it has lacked concerted angling effort.
Indeed, those who have sailed for stripers in particular have often scored well. Schoolie bass have been hitting with abandon in Jamaica Bay and in the back of Long Island Sound harbors with some kayak fishermen decking upward of a dozen or more on small swim shads. There are also decent numbers of small stripers inside both Moriches and Great South Bays, and the first linesiders at Shinnecock are a matter of record.
True, winter flounder have been picky at best across the region, but regular limits are being culled from Eastchester Bay while Great South and Moriches Bay have seen slight improvement from week to week. Last year winter flounder catches didn't really get started until May when some boats in the Captree fleet began probing ocean waters and found a healthy set of big blackbacks around the Fire Island Artificial Reef. If the relentless winds we've seen this year finally lay down over the next few days, you can bet the fleet will give the hefty flatties a shot in ocean waters.
Then there's fluke season. Set to open on Wednesday, the first few weeks of summer flounder pursuit annually produce some of the most outstanding doormat reports. The waters of Peconic Bay off Greenport and the Greenlawns area of Shelter Island are traditional hot spots, but don't overlook Montauk Point or ocean water depths of 50 to 70 feet just outside each of the South Shore inlets. All it takes is a juicy strip bait or large spearing and squid combo, with side orders of patience and luck, to put that fluke of a lifetime on deck.
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The point I'm trying to make here is simple: There may be plenty to do around the house and in our busy lives but ready or not, fishing season is here. Whether you want to tempt stripers, bluefish, weakfish, winter flounder or tasty fluke, May is prime time. Be sure to get out during the next few weeks because some of the year's best fishing takes place before school lets out.
Black sea bass rules set
New York's black sea bass regulations are now set. The creel limit is eight per angler and minimum size is 13 inches. The season runs from July 10-Dec. 31.