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For the first time in four years, surf fishermen will once again have 4x4 access to Gilgo Beach State Park.

By Fred Golofaro  |  March 18, 2019
The opening of Gilgo to beach vehicles provides valuable access to some very productive stretches of oceanfront.

The stretch of state controlled Gilgo Beach will finally be accessible to surfcasters possessing the State Beach Vehicle Permit effective April 1. That’s good news for casters who have been limited to Democrat Point, where the most productive stretch of beach, the Demo Bar, has also been pretty much off limits to 4x4s for the past couple of seasons as a result of erosion and piping plovers. The Sore Thumb access area has been so congested with “non-fishermen” once the mild weather settles in that most fishermen shy away from it except to work night tides. During summer weekends, it is so congested that any serious fishing is out of the question.

The opening of Gilgo should help alleviate some of the crowding at Sore Thumb/Cedar, and Gilgo can be a more productive beach for stripers and blues during the warmer months. One concern with Gilgo is that since this stretch of beach has seen little human activity the past few years, piping clovers have found it more attractive as a nesting area. Last year, 12 pairs of nesting plovers called this area home. The good news, come fall surf fishermen should have the entire length of Gilgo State Park to prowl for bass and hopefully, some bluefish which have been pretty much absent from our fall fishery in recent years. When the surf is up, there will be competition for beachfront with surfers, who also value this stretch of shore.

We can thank the recently concluded dredging project that cleared Fire Island Inlet’s main channel, and the need to provide a buffer to Ocean Parkway, for the return of Gilgo. The beach along Gilgo had been eroded to within 30 feet of this important thoroughfare in some areas, so sand from the project was deposited along Gilgo State Park and west to West Gilgo. The beach is in great shape now, and barring any major natural disasters like hurricanes, we should be able to count on access throughout the season, barring some temporary closures as a result of nesting plovers.

If you plan on accessing Gilgo, Sore Thumb, Democrat Point, Napeague, Hither Hills or Montauk this season and have not acquired your Four Wheel Drive Beach Fishing Permit, you are running out of time. The deadline is March 31. You will need your driver’s license, vehicle registration and marine fishing registry to get your permit. The cost is $80. For permit info, call 631-321-3510.