Nasty winds and a few rainy days did little to spur saltwater fishing action around Long Island this week. The cool showers lowered water temperatures in some areas. The surface of western Long Island Sound is averaging 43 degrees while the South Shore bays are pushing 46 degrees. Catches of winter flounder usually show a marked increase at 48 degrees.
"We've been picking away at winter flounder in the western Sound bays,'' said Capt. Chris Cullen of the Island Current Fleet in City Island. "Not many fish, but a few just about anywhere we drop anchor from Eastchester and Manhasset east to Hempstead and Oyster bays. The flatties are sluggish, but the action has been encouraging.''
Cullen and his fares have been targeting the flounder in eight- to 10-foot depths with sandworms drawing the most bites on incoming tides.
Across the Island, West End anglers are catching a few flounder on the Jamaica Bay flats and around North Channel Bridge. Bunker have set up near the bridge, too, which bodes well for Wednesday's opening of striper season. Ling continue to make up most of the offshore catch, complementing a sprinkling of blackfish, codfish, pollack and hake.
Great South Bay flounder fishing is off to its best start in years, as evidenced by some anglers reporting several fish apiece on the Bay Shore and Heckscher flats. The average score, however, is still only one or two per angler. Expect more steady action to develop in West Channel, Dickerson Channel and the Babylon Cut as temperatures moderate. Capt. George Bartenback of the Captree open boat Capt. Rod said his best scores have come from 10-foot depths with worms the best bait.
The Captree open boat Laura Lee has been sailing offshore in search of codfish and whatever else might bite. Capt. Neil Delanoy reported averaging five-to-10 keeper cod and six-to-10 blackfish, plus a few ling, conger eels and cape sharks, which is the going term for dogfish. Delanoy's crew cleans the doggies for anglers who want to take them home. The sharks, claims Delanoy, are very tasty when cleaned immediately after being caught. The restaurant at Captree often uses dogfish in its fish and chips platter. I've long dreaded the day when I might print this, but with ever-tightening fishing regulations, you might want to try a sample before tossing one back.
Action remains limited farther to the east with just a few winter flounder picked at Smiths Point Bridge and Shinnecock Canal. Codfishing at Montauk is still a gamble.
Notes & quotes: If you want to learn more about fishing, check out West Islip High School's Adult Education Fishing Classes. The Fishing Line's Rich Johnson is the instructor. The $35 class begins April 20. Register online at www.wi.k12.ny.us/adulted/index.htm.
Kayak fans can have some fun in the Sixth Annual Jamaica Bay Kayak Fishing Tournament May 16. Hosted by Captain Kayak and sponsored by The Fisherman Magazine, this catch and release contest targets bluefish, stripers and weakfish with proceeds going to Casting for Recovery, a nonprofit support and educational program for women with breast cancer. Ante with $75 through Wednesday, $95 thereafter. Call 631-750-3587 for details.