The bluefish action outside the South Shore inlets from Shinnecock Inlet to New York Bight was excellent. The blues ranged from 8 to 15 pounds, with most fish caught on diamond jigs and live bunker. Surfcasters scored using large surface poppers, large swimming plugs and fresh bunker chunks when the blues pushed schools of bunker tight to the beaches. There was a lot of bunker in the Peconics and the blues have been pushing them toward the east. A few striped bass were mixed in with bluefish.
The striped bass fishing inside the South Shore inlets was excellent, with live eels working best after dark and live bunker or spot during the day. Fresh skimmer clams and bunker chunks also were excellent baits when fished tight to the bottom. Scott Jeffery at East End Bait and Tackle reported that striped bass are showing in increasing numbers along the ocean beaches around Shinnecock Inlet, with the fishing better during the early morning and evening tides, but that should change soon as the bait empties out of the bays. Poppers and bucktailers have done well. Also, the Ponquogue Bridge has had fish up to 25 pounds on swimmers, plastic shad, bucktails and eels during the night tides. There were large stripers caught in the Peconic River. On the North Shore excellent striper action was found off Eaton’s Neck.
Stripers between 8 and 16 pounds, with a few 25-pound class fish, continued blitzing the beaches around Montauk Point from the back of the town through Ditch Plains, around to North and False Bars and stretching to Shagwon Point. A fair number of bluefish between 5 and 12 pounds have been mixed in with the blues. Bucktails, plastic shad and poppers were the top producers.
Clam bellies and skimmer clams produced a fair number of stripers in the teens on the west bars of Jones and Fire Island inlets, in the east and west cuts of Moriches and Shinnecock inlets and at the inlet bridges. The outgoing tide remained the best tide to fish.
The blackfish season remained very good, with the better action on the offshore artificial reefs and less-fished wrecks. The inshore blackfish action was best along the inlet jetties and bridges spanning the inlets. Blackfish in the 8-pound class were common offshore and fish up to 5 pounds were being caught inshore among many smaller fish. The blackfish bite from the rocky beaches in the Sound and along the North Fork was very good. It was also outstanding in Huntington Harbor in 15 to 25 feet of water.
Fiddler, green, hermit and Asian crabs all produced blackfish, but at some locations the blackfish were very selective to the crab they wanted, so anglers caring a mix of crabs did best. Shore anglers also did well using clams. A good amount of small sea bass were mixed in with the blackfish. Large sea bass were caught on the artificial reefs, in Block Island Sound and on the offshore wrecks.
Flyrodders continued to experience excellent striper and bluefish action from the beaches on intermediate lines casting epoxy files and other bay anchovy imitations as they were large schools bay anchovies along the beaches on the North Shore, in the South Shore inlets and around Montauk Point.
The South Shore bays continued to have a mix of blowfish, porgies, small sea bass, blackfish, large snappers, northern kingfish, spot, lizardfish and triggerfish. Clams or sandworms baits enhanced with a little clam chum was an excellent choice. Top spots included the channel edges, deeper holes within the bays and around the inlet bridges and in the Shinnecock Canal.
The tuna fishing at the Hudson and other offshore canyons remained excellent, with yellowfin to 90 pounds being taken while nighttime chunking and trolling during the day. There were a lot of mahi caught with the tuna. Also, there were a few swordfish caught on squid at night. A few pollock and cod have been caught on the offshore wrecks. It’s a good early-season sign for these bottom fish that have been improving over the last few years.