Striped Bass, Fluke Fishing Warming Up Slowly


We’re finally getting a full week of sun and warmth this week, though still nothing above 80 degrees, from the looks of things. The gradual warming has dialed in the fishing at a snail’s pace.

Fluke fishing this week continued to be a bit of a hard row to hoe, but with some fruits for your labors. Striped bass fishing wavered between outstanding on one tide and difficult on the next. Porgies continued to be an easy way to fill the fridge with fresh fillets if the other species frustrate you. Weakfish have been mostly an incidental addition to most catches, but those targeting them in the wee hours are picking away at some decent fish.

The most consistent fluke bite is still in the bays, Shinnecock and Moriches, mainly. The Shinnecock Star is putting some good fish on ice just about every day, it seems, while the other local party boat, the Hampton Lady, focuses mainly on the sea bass bite, since Capt. Jim has an RSA permit that lets him do what others can’t until this weekend.

The ocean bite off Montauk has been somewhat spotty, but the party boats are getting their fish and a couple limits each day. The 19-inch minimum is definitely helping this year. The fishing is sure to pick up once weather patterns settle in for summer—well, assuming weather patterns settle in for summer, eventually.

For stripers, the opportunities to catch fish are plentiful, though it seems that a shot of luck is needed to hit the really prime bites. Montauk is the surest bet, but it may take some looking around to find the fish. Most of the sharpies are diamond jigging or trolling wire on the eastern rips, and some solid fish into the 40-pound class have been taken.

Plum Gut has lots of fish, too, and a big fleet of boats is set up on the drift by early morning every day. Bucktails on three-ways with heavy weights are the way to go there, since the big bluefish are in residence now and live baits will go quickly. The trollers are still picking away at some fish in the ferry slip as well.

In Shinnecock and Moriches bays, the best bet is anchoring up in one of the cuts leading to the inlets and drifting clam bellies in the current. Use circle hooks and be quick on the strike so as not to gut-hook fish. Most of the fish are schoolie size, but a 20-pounder will come up from time to time. If you want something bigger, you’re going to have to work the graveyard shift with live baits in the inlets, or go searching for a school of bunker out in the ocean when things are calm.

The surf also gave up some nice fish in Montauk again this week, but overall the surf fishing has been very poor this spring. No fish over 50 pounds have been caught from the beach anywhere on Long Island, as best as I can tell, and only a handful of fish in the upper 30s and 40s. Another candle jockey weighed in a 41-pounder at Paulie’s Bait and Tackle over the weekend, and a few of the late-night rock-hoppers took some solid fish, but the action was spotty at best.

If you or anybody you know has a go-fast boat in Montauk or Shinnecock, it might be worth taking a scouting cruise to the ocean between the inlet and the point to see if there are big schools of bunker over the horizon with all the big bass feeding on them. It would make sense. In 2009 and 2010, the huge schools of bunker parked in the New York Bight. The last two years, it was off Moriches and Fire Island. This year, they could be the vast stretch east of Shinnecock that sees very little recreational boat traffic at this time of year. It would explain the dearth of cows elsewhere. Just a thought.

Catch ’em up, wherever you end up. See you out there.

Ducks Unlimited TournamentDon’t forget to sign up for the Ducks Unlimited Striped Bass Tournament coming up next month. It’s $250 per boat, regardless of crew size, and prizes and calcuttas make for some nice potential winnings. Call Jo Rae Brennan at 537-7611 for more information and to sign up your crew.

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