Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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New York Woods & Waters – Long Island’s Artificial Reefs, Nassau/Queens/Suffolk counties


Long Island’s artificial reefs beckon to off-shore anglers


By Dan Ladd


The beauty of New York as a fishing state is that anglers can fish both freshwater and saltwater species. Long Island isn’t just the best opportunity to do so off New York shores, but is as good as any along the northern Atlantic coast. 


Artificial reefs surely help make it that way. Popular among divers and anglers alike, they create diverse habitat for a number of marine fish species. The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation touts the fact that artificial reefs attract popular sportfish species like Atlantic cod, black sea bass,  tautog (blackfish), scup (porgy), and summer flounder. They also say striped bass and bluefish can also be found near artificial reefs. 


Back in November, the state record for bonito was broken by angler Matthew Kessinger, who pulled in a 13.45-pound bonito off the Atlantic Beach artificial reef. 


DEC holds nothing back when promoting New York’s saltwater fishing opportunities at artificial reefs, and even the state government knows this. This became even more evident in 2020 when the Hempstead Reef, off Long Island’s south shore, was expanded by 70 railroad cars once owned by Wells Fargo Bank. 


It was a big affair when the railroad cars were added as Gov. Andrew Cuomo was on hand along with several members of the media. Frequent NYON contributor Charles Witek III documented the event in the Oct. 2, 2020, issue of New York Outdoor News. 


DEC marine biologists say various rigs can be used when fishing on and around artificial reefs. Most popular, the agency says, is the drift rig, the two hook rig, and a wreck rig. Photos of these rigs and additional information on species is available in DEC’s informative reef guide available online at


Depending on the targeted species, various baits can be used including clam, squid, bloodworms, green crab, and artificial lures. 

Special regulations

There are several regulations anglers must be aware of when it comes to saltwater fishing. These can all be found at Mainly, anglers need to be sure to enroll in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry, which can be done through the DECALS licensing system or through license issuing agents. Also, some reefs have specific regulations, including banning the use of fish pots on several reefs. 

Getting there

There are a dozen reefs that surround the shores off Long Island. The general locations are listed below, along with size and depth. DEC provides further details, including GPS coordinates on its website,


• Atlantic Beach: Atlantic Ocean, 3 nautical miles south of Atlantic Beach; Size: 413 acres; Depth: 55 to 64 feet.


• Fire Island: Atlantic Ocean, 2.0 nautical miles south of the Fire Island Lighthouse; Size: 744 acres; Depth: 62 to 73 feet.


• Hempstead: Atlantic Ocean, 3.3 nautical miles south of Jones Beach State Park; Size: 744 acres; Depth: 50 to 72 feet.


• Kismet: Great South Bay, 120 yards north of the South Beach, between Kismet and the National Seashore dock; Size: 10 acres; Depth: 16 to 25 feet.


• Matinecock: Long Island Sound, 0.5 nautical miles north of Peacock Point; Size: 41 acres; Depth: 30 to 40 feet. 


• McAllister Grounds: Atlantic Ocean, 2.8 nautical miles south of Long Beach; Size: 115 acres; Depth: 50 to 53 feet.


• Moriches: Atlantic Ocean, 2.4 nautical miles south of Moriches Inlet; Size: 14 acres; Depth: 70 to 75 feet.


• Rockaway: Atlantic Ocean, 1.6 nautical miles south of Rockaway Beach; Size: 413 acres; Depth: 32 to 40 feet.


• Shinnecock: Atlantic Ocean, 2.0 nautical miles south of Shinnecock Inlet; Size: 35 acres’ Depth: 79 to 84 feet.


• Smithtown: Long Island Sound, 1.6 nautical miles northwest of Stony Brook Harbor entrance; Size: 3 acres; Depth: 38 to 40 feet.


• Twelve Mile: Atlantic Ocean 12 nautical miles from Moriches and Shinnecock Inlets; Size: 850 acres; Depth: 123 to 143 feet.


• Yellowbar (Fisherman): Great South Bay, 900 yards east of the Robert Moses Fixed Bridge; Size: 7 acres; Depth: 25 to 40 feet.


As for access, DEC says that those with private boats can research boat ramps using the  boat ramp guide at, or contact their local municipality for ramps in their region. 


DEC also has free access sites on Long Island for boat launching. These are also included in the boat ramp guide and can also be found at 

Long Island Reefs

Nearest town: Varies

Maximum depth: Varies

Shore length: None


Fish species present: Atlantic cod, black sea bass,  tautog (blackfish), scup (porgy), summer flounder, striped bass and bluefish.


For information: Division of Marine Resources

205 North Belle Mead Road, Suite 1

East Setauket, NY 11733


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