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THE "NEW CUT" AT OLD INLET

Super Storm Sandy delivered a lot of bad when it roared through our area a little more than two years ago. But with all of the bad, also came a little good.
By Fred Golofaro
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It cut a swath through the beachfront on Fire Island National Seashore (FINS) at Old Inlet, creating access issues for some Fire Island residents, but has also proved to be a blessing for the eastern reaches of Great South Bay. Some residents and local politicians had been calling for closing the breach due to concerns that it would raise water levels and create flooding issues on the mainland, but those concerns have since been proven unfounded and it appears the “cut” is here to stay.

Regardless of what name you choose to call it, The New Cut, New Inlet, or Pattersquash Inlet, it provided a much needed flushing of the bay. The twice daily flow of clean ocean water into the bay kept its eastern reaches free of algae blooms that blossomed to the west. It has revitalized marine life in that part of the bay, and dramatically improved the fishing in that area.

While surf fishermen lost several miles of prime 4x4 access at FINS due to the breach, they also gained a very productive area with the addition of another inlet along the barrier beach. The National Park Service is again issuing recreational vehicle permits for the stretch between the park entrance at the west end of Smith Point County Park and the new cut. Some good fishing has already taken place there this fall, and the fishing along the backside of the barrier beach from the inlet all the way back east to the Smith Point Bridge has improved dramatically. Even the fishing along the mainland has benefitted, with increased numbers of stripers, blues, weakfish and fluke now finding their way along the north shore of the bay thanks to the close proximity of a gateway to the ocean.

Boatmen have found the area just inside the cut, along with adjacent waters, very productive for fluke, stripers and blues. The flats north of the cut have provided light tackle anglers with some fine sight fishing opportunities for stripers, and the waters around the Smith Point Bridge saw some of the best fishing in years with very steady bluefish action, some good fluke action, and an excellent shot of porgy action that caught everyone by surprise. The quality of the porgy fishing caught everyone by surprise and some veteran anglers from the area said they could not recall porgy fishing that good so far back in the bay. Most chalked it up to the proximity of the new cut.

Since it is not recognized as a navigable inlet by the Department of Transportation and the Coast Guard, the area is not marked by any buoys and caution is required when navigating in the area. The bottom inside, and to the north of the cut is constantly changing due to the unstable nature of the inlet. When approaching it from the ocean side, a considerable amount of white water builds up on the shallow bars if there is any kind of sea running, so approach the area carefully if you have any intentions of heaving plugs into the bassy looking water at the mouth of the cut.

So while there are some that would still like to see this breach in the barrier beach closed, there are many who are happy to leave it just the way it is. For those who like to fish, and those concerned about the South Shore’s largest estuary, it is easy to understand why

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