Despite plenty of promise, April can be a challenging month for area fishing. Not so much because there aren’t options — there are several — but because of the frequent wet, raw and windy weather of this past week.
That will change over the next month as the weather moderates. In the meantime, the most reliable action continues to be trout fishing in local stocked ponds, Connetquot River State Park Preserve (631-581-1005) and Caleb Smith State Park Preserve (631-265-1054).
On days when the wind lays low, the stockies at such places as Oyster Bay Mill Pond, Massapequa Reservoir, Belmont Lake, Carlls River, Argyle Lake, Centerport Twin Ponds, Hards Lake in Southaven Park and West Lake in Patchogue have been quite willing to smack small in-line spinners, especially those that are brightly colored, all gold or silver.
At Connetquot and Caleb Smith, bead-head nymphs, size 12 streamers and even tiny, size 18 Adams dry flies have recently proven agreeable to an audience comprised of rainbows, brooks and browns.
Freshwater fishing for largemouth bass, panfish and pickerel has also been solid when the wind allows. Better yet, with the weeds still several inches below the surface, anglers have been having fun tossing small Rapala Floating Minnows, Yo-Zuri Crystal Minnows and countdown or suspending jerk baits.
Osprey, which have arrived recently, also are scoring well at both the bass ponds and trout lakes. On Wednesday I saw one fly off toward its nest with a large bluegill, and another one today making short work of a 15-inch pickerel atop a North Fork telephone pole. That hints of fish feeding near the surface in shallow water where they are easy targets for the graceful birds of prey — and anglers. Take that as a sure sign freshwater action is about to bust open.
On the salty side, the state’s short-lived winter flounder season opened Saturday. As expected, reports of success have been scarce. The Captree open boat Island Princess (islandprincesscaptree.com) did manage as many as five on one trip and decked an 18-incher off Bay Shore on Monday morning. Capt. Bryan Sorice said most fell to mussel baits.
A few flatties have also been picked from Quogue Canal. Winter flounder season runs through May 30. You can keep only two per day with a minimum length of 12 inches.
Trying for codfish is another possibility. Capt. Joe Tangle on the open boat King Cod (kingcodfishing.com) out of Center Moriches has had a few good innings when he’s been able to sail, and Capt. Mike Barnett of the Freeport based Codfather (codfatherfishing.com) has also been hitting local wrecks. Last Thursday, with only two fares aboard, he ran just 10 miles offshore and found a dozen cod. Most were small but the day’s top fish was a solid 15-pounder.
School stripers are starting to show in South Shore tidal creeks and toward the back of Manhasset and Mount Sinai Harbors, but most measure less than 18 inches long. Soft plastics have been the early key. Long Island’s striper season doesn’t officially kick off until April 15, but it is okay to play catch and release with this species until then. Once the season gets rolling you’ll be able to keep one per day with a 28-inch minimum size limit.