There’s much better fishing in the bays this week. The Peconics and Shelter Island Sound are the places to be right now.
Fluke, weakfish and big porgies were abundant and coolers were full, despite an iffy weather forecast throughout the weekend. Striped bass and the large schools of bait species, however, remained relatively scarce.
Weakfish continued to show up in larger numbers than we’ve seen in years. Shinnecock Bay again produced a steady pick of 2- to 8-pounders, and the first tiderunners came out of the Peconics this week too. The deep runs by Jessups Neck and Cow Neck gave up their first fish late in the week. On Saturday morning a school of weakfish were feeding on the surface in Noyac Bay—a rare sight in the last 30 years, to say the least.
The main attraction, however, was the bottom fishing. Fluke up to 8 pounds and porgies pushing 3 and 4 pounds were chewing like mad that last five or six days. Those anglers that weathered thunderstorms and stiff breezes over the weekend to get in some drifts off Greenport and Southold came home soggy but smiling.
The fluke bite in Shinnecock and Moriches Bays was also pretty good for so early in the season, and on the days the inlets would allow it, the ocean outside the inlets had a steady pick as well. Off Montauk the fluke fishing has been steady with most boats coming home with some limits and a mix of big porgies and even a striped bass or two.
Stripers, however, have been frustratingly slow to show up in significant numbers. There are good numbers of rats in the ocean surf now, but only a scattered few fish, and very few of quality size, to be found anywhere in the bays.
Certainly the main issue is the lack of bait. There are still almost none of the small bait species we should expect to see great clouds of in the bays by now to be found anywhere. None of the jumbo adult spearing that should be spawning in the marshes have shown up, very few anchovies and almost no killies. As I’ve said before, this is very worrisome since those baitfish are the fuel for our fishing for the next six months.
It’s been a cold spring, but water temperatures don’t seem to be so drastically out of whack as to explain the absence of the bait species. Somehow—almost amazingly considering that we’ve had only a handful of days with high temperatures in the upper 60s and most nights have been in the low 50s or even 40s—the water in Peconic Bay has warmed up to 62 degrees already, according to the temperature gauge on the Rock Water. That’s really not that far behind what it should be at this time of year. And yet the baitfish seem to be way behind schedule. If they do not show up soon, it will be apparent they are not coming and that could mean a quick end to the exciting fishing we’ve had thus far.
The squid run doesn’t seem to have happened either, and the sea robins are starting to get nervous that they’re going to be the bait of choice this summer.
The offshore hounds have been awakened by the first reports of bluefin coming up the coast off Jersey and Maryland and a big bulge of Gulf Stream water sweeping in over the canyons way out to the east. Blue water beckons.
Catch ’em up. See you out there.