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JONES BEACH PIERS REVISITED

While we have covered the Jones Beach Fishing Piers at Parking Field 10 in the not too distant past, the latest addition to the existing piers sheds a whole new light on the structures’ fishing potential.
By Fred Golofaro
JONES BEACH PIERS REVISITED

During the day, flounder, fluke, bluefish, sea bass, blowfish and kingfish are among the species targeted by a growing clan of anglers who regularly work the four wood structures. Much of the credit for this renewed interest in the piers centers around the Jones Beach Fishing Station and its manager, Ed Walsh. A hefty schedule of tournaments and events over the course of the season has helped draw attention to some of the many fishing opportunities that the piers, as well as the nearby Green Island Fishing Access Area, have to offer.

The fishing opportunities at the piers have just been given another boost with the addition of lights specifically designed to draw baitfish and gamefish such as stripers, weakfish and blues, as well as other species such as herring and even squid to the illuminated areas. The installation was completed on November 25th and by nightfall, the lights were casting their bright beams into the channel.

Anyone familiar with fishing around these brightly lit areas, especially late at night with little activity from boats or people, knows the powerful draw these lights have on fish. The lights attract baitfish of all sorts, and gamefish take advantage of this natural chum line. I’ve been fortunate to have this scenario play out many times, not just here on Long Island, but from piers on Martha’s Vineyard, Block Island and in the Florida Keys for stripers, weakfish, snook and tarpon. Situated along a deep water channel, the Jones Beach Piers are ideally suited to draw stripers and weakfish throughout the course of the fishing season. The addition of these lights should also make this a prime location for herring from December through March.

For serious surf fisherman, the lighted areas will provide a good barometer for the type of baitfish frequenting the general area, as well as the presence of gamefish. Fish can often be seen cruising these areas, and working the perimeter of the lighted area can sometimes pay big dividends.

The addition of these lights to the two easternmost piers, are the result of a joint effort between the State Fishing Advisory Board and Long Island State Parks, with the project funded by entry fees generated by the Montauk and South Shore Surf Fishing Classics. Kudos to George Gorman and AnnMarie Agostinello from State Park Regional Headquarters, Sue Guliani, manager of Jones Beach State Park and Hank Leggio, Director of Operations at Jones Beach for moving the project along, and to Brendan Marrinan, Ray Carnival and the park’s electric shop for installing the lights. Thanks too go to Capt. John Raguso for hooking us up with the proper lighting.

The location of the piers, in the heart of prime back-bay striper territory, provides pier anglers with a better than average shot at connecting with a striper or weakfish, and with the addition of the lights, those chances are dramatically improved. Nighttime certainly provides the best opportunity to tangle with these gamefish as the fish prowl the dock lights looking for an easy meal.

Parking for the piers is at Jones Beach Field #10, but you must possess a State Park Night/Sportfishing Permit ($25 annual fee) or a Beach Vehicle Permit in order to probe night tides. For updates on fishing activity at the piers, contact Ed Walsh at Jones Beach Fishing Station at 631-559-5938.

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