The Shinnecock Canal, located in Hampton Bays, is a prime fishing area for Long Island’s shore bound anglers. The canal serves as the gateway between Peconic and Shinnecock bays, and is easily accessible via Montauk Highway. It features ample parking by day, with nighttime parking available via the Suffolk County Night Fishing Permit. This night fishing permit is only available to county residents, but don’t overlook the daytime opportunities here.
Flounder are in the Canal by the opening of flounder season on April 1, and remain a possibility until the season closes on May 30. Fresh bank mussels, clams, and sand or bloodworms will all draw their share of action. Keep your rig simple and employ only one hook. The canal is loaded with rubble, and can be a terminal tackle nightmare, especially if you fish when the current is still moving.
Fluke will begin showing up by the end of April, with their numbers building in early May. This is catch and release fishing until the season opens. That date has not been set as of this writing, but will likely be early May. The best fluking is generally as the locks begin to open, and for approximately a 30 to 45 minute window. And, then again, for a slightly longer window of 1-1/2 hours before the locks close. Bucktails tipped with a single spearing and squid strip work great, but anglers in the last several years have used Berkley Gulp minnows and squid strips as well.
Although weakfishing has been very erratic in recent years, May is prime time for the yellowfins if they do show. Bluefish usually make their sweep through the Canal in May also, with repeated assaults through June. Large weaks in the 8 to 10-pound class are a possibility, but most will be in the 2 to 5 pound range. The best time is as the locks open. Try a small ½-ounce jig head tipped with a pink or chartreuse Bass Assassin. When the blues show, they’ll readily chase tins, bucktails tipped with porkrind or swimming plugs.
Speaking of stripers, bass from schoolies to cows upwards of 50 pounds have been caught from the Canal. Bunker, herring, squid and other prime baitfish funnel their way through the ditch, and stripers can’t resist an easy meal. Livelining any of these large baits after dark will give you a shot at some bigger fish. Bucktails also count for their share of stripers hear, as do swimming plugs.
As summer settles in, snappers, porgies and sea robins can help keep the kids busy. Use a small jig head tipped with squid and worked close the bottom for sea robins, while a snapper popper and spearing will put you into the snappers. If you’re feeling adventurous, live-line a small snapper down near the bottom and you might dredge up a keeper fluke or two.
Fall sees the bass activity begin to rebound, and some blackfish are also a possibility. The rock jetty on the north end of the canal is good place to target the tog.
Access to the Shinnecock Canal is by way of Sunrise Highway. Take exit 66 and turn left at the bottom of the ramp on North Shore Highway (a small road). The road will end at Montauk Highway, where you will turn right, go over the canal, and then make your next right onto Newtown Road. Take this to the first right, Holzman Lane, and the canal is in front of you.
There are two excellent tackle shops in the area. White Water and East End Bait and Tackle. White Water is situated adjacent to the canal on the eastern shore at Montauk Highway. East End Bait & Tackle is located a half-mile west on Montauk Highway. Both shops are staffed by knowledgeable and accomplished anglers who can give you the lowdown on fishing this area, and they carry a full assortment of bait, tackle and accessories.