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Anglers sailing from Mount Sinai and Port Jefferson Harbors, and from as far west as Huntington, will set their GPS for Stratford Shoal - better known as the Middle Ground. Each season sees exceptional fishing for stripers and bluefish along with the trio of tog, sea bass and scup to keep rods bent and anglers coming back for more.
By Tony Salerno

The name is well suited since this spot sits midway between Long Island and the Connecticut shore. The Middle Ground is an area approximately three miles in radius, surrounding a high spot that is exposed at low tide, and officially known as Stratford Shoal. There is a lighthouse sitting on the shoal that makes it easy to locate from a distance. Six miles north of Pt. Jefferson Harbor, Stratford (Middle Ground) Shoal (41 03 06N / 73 06 01W) consists of a variety of bottom contours creating all sorts of rip lines and drop-offs anywhere from 15 to 65 feet of water, making it an oasis for bass and bluefish, especially from late August and well into November. Diamond jigs are the top choice when drifting the rip lines, however chunking with fresh bunker while anchored up tide of the shoal will certainly put fish in the box as well.

Just southeast of the shoal is a terrain about a mile in diameter of hard rocky bottom that gets plenty of play throughout the summer and fall. Porgies and now quality sea bass are the mainstay from July through October. Your best bet is to concentrate your focus between 35 and 65 feet of water. Porgies can pile up pretty thick in patches scattered anywhere in the vicinity of the shoal. Anchoring near these schools of scup and doling out some clam chum will draw them under the boat for one stop shopping.
Mid-October through the month of November, the Middle Ground becomes land of the togs as plenty of big toothy critters are taken by sinker bouncers, with some double digit fish in the mix. Green, Asian, white and hermit crabs all contribute to putting a limit of quality togs in the box. The current is swift in this area especially as the current clashes with the shoal, therefore use sinkers in the 4- to 8-ounce range to keep your rig close to the boat.

September into October sees lots of false albacore frequenting the area. Bring along a spinning outfit armed with a Deadly Dick or Kastmaster and you can have a blast with these speedsters before the mosquito fleet arrives.
Always watch the weather - Long Island Sound can change its mood as fast as a flick of a switch and can become quite bumpy so be sure to pay close attention to the marine forecast.

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