The blackfish season is open and the fishing was excellent. The best bet for keeper-sized blackfish was on the artificial reefs off Montauk and Orient points and along the North Shore rocks. The East End North Shore beaches yielded numerous keeper blackfish. On the South Shore, blackfish were caught off the rock jetties at the inlets as well as at the bridges, but these fish were mostly shorts. In New York Bight, the blackfish action was excellent on the wrecks in Ambrose Channel and at 17 fathoms, with most anglers easily limiting out. Green and fiddler crabs, as well as clams worked were good choices.
Porgies in the 2- to 3-pound class were caught off Montauk, in Gardiner’s Bay and in The Peconics. There are fewer porgies than earlier in the season, but the ones that are being caught are huge and well worth the effort to pursue. Porgies and blackfish are typically caught in the same area, so mixed bag trips were the norm. Clam strips were a good choice.
The sea bass fishing was excellent in Block Island Sound, off Fisher’s Island and on the Connecticut side of the Long Island Sound, where the majority of the fish were keeper size and pool-sized fish were in the 3- to 4-pound class with the occasional 5-pounder. On the North Shore of the Island the best sea bass fishing was on the East End from Mattituck to Orient Point. On the South Shore, the majority of the best sea bass were smaller fish, with good action on the artificial reefs, but keeper sea bass were still being caught steadily on the wrecks between 70 and 100 feet deep. Clams were the top bait.
From Montauk Point to New York Bight, the striped bass and bluefish season is full swing. The ocean has been filled with schools of large sand eels, rainbait, bunker and mullet. The stripers and bluefish are mixed together, attaching to the schools of bait. The majority of the stripers range between 8 and 12 pounds, with stripers to 30 pounds being live-lined on bunker and shad in 40 to 70 feet of water off the South Shore beaches during the day and on eels in the inlets at night.
Scott Jeffery of East End Bait and Tackle reported excellent fishing for striped bass on diamond jigs around 70 feet of water outside Shinnecock Inlet. The birds may be working and clue you in on the fish or you may need to hunt with your fish finder; either way you should be rewarded with some good fish. They’re also taking top-water lures when they’re feeding up top. This excellent fishing was also reported outside all the South Shore inlets.
On the North Shore, there was good striper fishing on diamond jigs and bunker chunks from Port Jefferson out to Orient Point, with the best fishing found in The Gut for anglers using bucktails or eels fished on a three-way rig. More blues than bass were reported in all areas.
The bluefish action was the best of the season, and this season has shaped up to be one of the best experienced in the last few years. The bluefish reported were between 6 and 8 pounds, with some between 12 to 16 pounds. These are big, hard-fighting fish. The schools of blues are moving around quickly, but once they’re found, catches of 25 or more per angler were typical. Diamond jigs and bunker chunks were top catchers. When the big blues pushed bait to the surface the action was incredible for anglers casting poppers into the schools of blues.
This is the season to break out the 10-weight fly rod. When these big blues and stripers are pushing bait to the surface the action can be fast and furious. The bait can be as small as rain bait or a big as shad, but a big bunker pattern rarely goes untouched by blues. The stripers were a bit more particular, so add a few sand eel and rainbait patterns to your box. Big blues require a 4-inch wire tract to prevent instant cutoffs.
The inshore clam chumming at the inlet bridges has been generally slow, with most bass schoolie size. Anglers drifting live bunker and eels caught fewer stripers, but 30-pound class fish were reported.
The surf fishing has been steadily improving, with more stripers and blues being caught during the day on tins and poppers. Bunker chunks were the top bait. The top areas were on the South Shore along the west end of the island and on the North Fork Sound Side. The jetties along the inlet mouths also produced well. Anglers reported that the fish were moving quickly from east to west, but when the fish found bait and settled in the fishing was excellent. Excellent fishing was found around Gilgo, Cedar Beach, the Robert Moses beaches, Great Gun and behind Montauk Town. On the North Shore, the best striper and bluefish action was reported off the western Sound beaches on both sides of Glen Cove Harbor on swimmers and tins.
The freshwater fishing was good, with trout responding to the cooling water. The largemouth bass fishing was very good, with bass in the 3-pound class possible for anglers fishing the East End ponds. The panfish action remained good throughout the area.