It is hot. Hot like the sun.But despite the heat, the ocean is still quite cool, only in the mid- to upper 60s, and getting out on the water or hitting the beach has been the only relief from temps in the 90s. So if you’re not one of those people who likes the bathing beach scene, fishing ought to be the activity of choice on these sweltering days.
Even on the inner bays, the weekend’s southwest breezes kept things very comfortable—a far cry from the inferno in my backyard. And there are fish to be had.
As has been the case for a while now, the western bays, Shinnecock and Moriches, are still the best places to catch a fluke. The bays are home for the light tackle anglers, since the best fishing is taking place in less than 10 feet of water, and tiny bucktails and light tackle are the ticket. In some cases, anglers can even watch the fluke swim up to their bucktail and inhale it.
The good fishing bodes well for the third annual Ben Lupia Memorial Fluke Tournament, hosted by the Hampton Bays Fire Department, on July 20. Check in at East End Bait & Tackle to sign up for the tournament, or just come to the captains’ meeting at the Hampton Bays Fire Department headquarters at 8 p.m. the night before the tournament. Entry fee is $45 for adult anglers and $20 for kids (it goes up $5 if you don’t sign up until the night before). Fishing is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., with an awards ceremony and barbecue, with tunes by Project Vibe, to follow.
Fluke fishing in Montauk has gotten a lot better now that the seas have settled down, and some limits of fluke are coming over the rails. Montauk is a deep-water game, requiring stout tackle and heavier sinkers—but you get the gorgeous vistas of Montauk’s cliffs.
If you don’t have access to a boat of your own, there are a number of party boats that will take you along for half- or full-day trips for about $50 or $60 per person, which is a damn sight cheaper than a boat and probably even saves you money over buying the fish in a store if you manage to put a couple on ice.
If you’re on Moriches Bay, the “Rosie” and the “Fish On” are your easiest access, both leaving from Center Moriches. In Hampton Bays, you’ve got the Shinnecock Star and the Hampton Lady, both top-notch captains who know how to put their customers on the fish. In Montauk, there’s a wide selection, of course, and you can choose between full and half days. The Marlin VI Princess and Miss Montauk are doing the longer trips, 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. (which costs a little more, of course, about $80), and the LazyBones and Viking Fleet are doing the half-day trips, departing at 7 a.m. and noon.
Striper fishing is slowly fading out in the bays and becoming more of a deep-water event. A few small fish can still be caught on clams in Shinnecock, and live baits in the back channels of Moriches are still producing some quality fish. Otherwise, the good bass bites are mostly in the Race and off Montauk these days. The charter crowd off Montauk are still hammering a lot of fish, including plenty of 40- and 50-pound class fish. Trolling parachutes on wire, drifting live baits and diamond jigging are taking the fish in the rips during the day, and eels are king at night, of course.
Catch ’em up. See you out there.