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Eastern Long Island Sound features three large and sometimes fearful tidal entrances: the Race, the Sluiceway and Plum Gut.
By Capt. Tom Migdalski

The Race generally has the toughest fishing conditions. Plum Gut, however, can be more turbulent and treacherous.

The Gut is located east of Orient Point off Long Island’s north fork and west of Plum Island, NY. The rip here, especially near Plum Island, is significant even on a calm day and not for craft under 18 feet or inexperienced boaters. Beneath the turbulent waters lies a sharp reef, which attracts and holds baitfish and predators.
Orient Point Lighthouse, or the Coffee Pot, is at the eastern end of a long reef running from Orient Point. The waters between the lighthouse and the point are shallow and hazardous, so all your fishing should be on the east side of the lighthouse. The Coffee Pot is 64 feet tall, flashes white every five seconds, and is found at 41° 09.811' N / 072° 13.417' W.

As the current bottlenecks between the structures and upwells over the sharp bottom hump it forms a big rip. Multitudes of foraging bluefish and striped bass hold near the bottom in the relatively sheltered water ahead of the reef where their energy expenditure is less and food abundant.

Attempting to anchor in The Gut is foolhardy and may have catastrophic results; therefore, drifting is the safest and easiest method of fishing. The drifts here are extremely fast, and it’s sometimes best to leave your motor idling.

Reaching bottom during peak tide is challenging with an opposing breeze, which holds your boat back against the current and heaps up a nasty wall of breakers along the rip line. However, Plum Gut is sheltered from the summer’s prevailing southwest winds, and that is a favorable direction to fish an ebb tide.

The Gut is commonly fished with diamond jigs, bucktails or live eels. To use diamonds, run uptide of the ripline while watching your depthfinder. At the point where the steep decline reaches 80 to 120 feet (depending on tide direction and location), throw the engine into neutral and quickly free-spool your 6- to 10-ounce jig to the bottom. Immediately engage the reel and take 10 rapid turns up, then drop it back down.
Continue this speed-jigging process until you approach the ripline, typically in about 60 to 70 feet of water, and then motor back upcurrent to your original starting place. Note and repeat the location of productive drifts by triangulation, electronics or following the fleet.

Fish a live eel or 1- to 2-ounce bucktail jig rigged off a sturdy three-way swivel. Attach four feet of 80-pound mono leader from the swivel to the bait hook or bucktail. On the other swivel-eye tie 18 inches of 30- to 40-pound mono to a “sacrificial” 8- to 12-ounce sinker.

To fish a bucktail or bait, again run well uptide of the ripline, free-spool your rig to the bottom, feel the sinker hit and immediately take a few turns up to avoid getting hung. Anytime you feel a bump, swing your rod tip up to either clear the bottom or set the hook on a fish. Your goal is to fish as close to the bottom as possible without snagging.
The Gut features plenty of surface action. Throughout the summer, schools of small bluefish frequently work in the calm water ahead of the ripline and they will take small surface plugs or metal lures cast with medium spin outfits. From late August to late September, Plum Gut is a go-to hotspot for bonito and false albacore, so always come prepared with spin gear and small metals for a shot at these tiny tunas.

The Gut holds many slammer bluefish and large stripers, but it’s also a highway for large ferries and obnoxious cigarette-style racing boats. Come prepared with sturdy tackle, a seaworthy vessel and good navigational skills. Also strictly avoid any possible fog forecasts.