Long Island/NYC Fishing Report – January 8th, 2016
During this report period the ocean and Long Island Sound water temperatures dropped only a few degrees and remained nearly 50 degrees, which is above normal. Bunker and stripers were reported in the brackish creeks along the North Shore and off the South Shore beaches. Since the striper season closed on Dec. 15, this is strictly catch and release fishing. Fly-rodders casting 1/0 or 2/0 sand eel or bunker imitation flies did well in the North Shore harbors, beaches and creeks. Kayakers did very well with small stripers in the western Sound, tossing flies and casting small swimmers and plastic baits on light tackle.
Herring continued to be caught in catchable numbers along the North Shore, mid-Island beaches on small tins and Sabiki rigs.
The porgy and sea bass fishing closed on Dec.31, with the season ending with good to excellent fishing reported on the wrecks and reefs in 70 feet of water and deeper. With most boats out of the water for several weeks, the fishing pressure was down and the fishing closer to shore improved. Further offshore, at the 30-fathom line wrecks and deeper, there was excellent fishing reported for jumbo porgies and sea bass, along with a few pollock and codfish. Fresh clams remained the bait of choice. The blackfish season closed on Dec. 14, so the only reports were as a bycatch for anglers targeting cod and ling.
The boats running out of Rhode Island and Massachusetts have continued to report excellent codfishing, with anglers limiting out on each trip. As the water temperature continues to drop, the cod fishing will continue to improve, with Block Island Sound experiencing the best action first, with improving cod fishing to the west as the season progresses. Some of the open boats fishing out of the South Shore ports reported very good cod fishing when the weather was calm. Fresh clams were the top bait. Diamond jigging for cod and pollock was slow.
The freshwater ponds and lakes remained ice free and warm, so the panfish and trout action was good. Anglers did well on PowerBaits, trout worms, small spoons and spinners.
The special Suffolk County firearms deer season is open, as are the pheasant and various small-game seasons, but there have been no reports as of late.
Looking back on 2015, the season started with decent cod fishing, but a definite slowdown from the past few years. The cause, likely fewer sand eels in Block Island Sound and off the South Shore. The ling and tilefish action was good, but there were fewer pollock caught. The winter white perch fishing was non-existent, as was the herring fishing, but the herring are here now, so perhaps we’ll get a good winter run. The winter flounder fishing was predictably slow.
For the first time in memory, mackerel, normally a cold-weather fish that moves north of Cape Cod around late April, stayed around throughout the summer. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why brown sharks, in quantities not seen in decades, were caught from the ocean beaches by fluke anglers and by anyone hanging over a can of bunker chum over the gunnel in 60 feet of water. A fair number of threshers were mixed in with the browns. Further offshore the blue shark fishing was outstanding for anglers fishing around the 30 fathom line. The mako fishing was OK. There was outstanding bluefin tuna fishing around the 30-fathom line for much of the season. Anglers running to the canyons caught a good number of bigeye tuna and mahi, but fewer longfin. Just of handful of blue marlin and wahoo were reported.
Typically, the best fluke fishing starts in the bays and by midsummer the fluking is primarily an offshore bite. This year the offshore fishing was generally slow, but the fluking remained solid in the bay and Sound throughout the summer. Inshore anglers were rewarded with bluefish throughout the season, offshore less so. The porgy fishing was outstanding the past few years and this year the fishing was solid, but better offshore than inshore. The sea bass and blackfishing fishing remained consistent as in past few seasons. The blue crab and snapper fishing were both good and, fortunately, the brown tide was largely absent.
Even though the fall striper and bluefish surf run didn’t materialize, there were a few hot days, but in generally the action was more of a consistent pick. Bunker stayed with us the whole season; so did the stripers and blues. Few 50-pound plus stripers were caught, and overall the number of fish over 30 pounds was less than a few seasons ago, but there were plenty of stripers in the teens to keep anglers busy along the South Shore, especially for the clam chummers, and for the North Shore anglers. The late fall diamond jigging fishing never really materialized, and most of the striper fishing was concentrated under the schools of bunker.
There was very little rain this season so freshwater anglers found very consistent conditions, and anglers reported a very good season for panfish, largemouth bass and pickerel. Since the 2014/2015 winter was cold, the water stayed cold into June, extending the excellent trout fishing.
On a personal high note, after years of trying, I caught my first yellowfin tuna on a fly rod – two, in fact – and my son Daniel caught his first tuna, scoring three species in a single day. These achievements were even more special as we shared them with our good friends Charles Witek and Mike Mucha on Charlie’s boat. Thanks guys.