The summer fishing season usually has a fair degree of predictability. Suffer a few hot spells and action with keeper-sized stripers and fluke tends to shift to cool ocean waters and the depths of Long Island Sound while porgy fans slide deeper and work harder to gather their limits. Over the past two weeks, however, the fish have been breaking ranks.
Many fluke fans expected to be fishing mostly in 50- to 70-foot ocean depths at this point in the hopes of catching a doormat or at least finding a few keepers for dinner. So far the ocean bite has been lackluster, save for the waters around Montauk where the bite has been solid for several weeks. West of the forks, however, the best scores have come from the bays, with Great South and Shinnecock shining particularly bright with several big summer flatties topping 8 pounds recently and a 13.13-pounder near Fire Island Light on Sunday. The same area produced a 12-pound, 9-ounce rug for Scott Haden.
Porgy action had slowed down predictably off popular North Shore hot spots such as Matinecock Point, Cranes Neck, Oldfield Point and Hortons Point, but it began to pick up steam again late this week as water temperatures slipped just enough to encourage a rebound. Even better was the scup bite out of Greenport, where the open boat Peconic Star has cleaned up east of Orient Point.
Sea bass fans sailing from Point Lookout and Freeport have had a decent pick of keepers in recent days with the action on small wrecks and reefs in 50- to 80-foot depths. The best scores have come while drifting squid strip baits, which also provides the bonus of an occasional large fluke. To maximize your chances with the summer flatties while still catching plenty of sea bass, drift the edges of structure rather than working directly over it.
Striped bass has remained true to form in most areas, hitting largely on night tides in the surf, slamming bucktails in The Race off Orient and inhaling live eels in the Rips at Montauk, but Long Island Sound offered something different: solid scores of fish on diamond jigs inside Eaton's Neck Triangle and between Mount Sinai and Wading River. It's the kind of action you might expect come mid-September, but it's here now so take advantage of it.
A free Family Freshwater Fishing Clinic, presented by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's I FISH NY Program, is slated for Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at McDonald Pond in Hempstead Lake State Park. Loaner rods and free bait are provided, but reservations are a must. The event is free, but there is a parking fee of $8 unless you have a NYS Empire Pass. Call 631-444-0283 for info.
The 57th Annual Babylon Invitational Tuna Tournament runs August 8-11. Proceeds benefit Babylon Neighbors Supporting Neighbors. There will be festivities at the Babylon Village Dock all tournament weekend with music, food and exhibits. Visit babylontunaclub.com for details.
Sheepshead Bay Yacht Club will conduct its Annual Fluke Tournament Aug. 8. Entry is $35 and a barbecue follows the weigh-in. Call 718-891-0991.