Beach Access Update - The Fisherman

Beach Access Update

Nighttime Access To Hallock and Orient State Parks

Good news from State Parks concerning nighttime fishing access at Orient Point State Park and the most recent addition to the park system, Hallock State Park. Both North Fork parks provide prime surf fishing access in areas where access has been traditionally difficult, especially for non-residents of North Fork communities.

According to acting regional director George Gorman, state parks is authorizing nighttime sport fishing on a pilot basis. It will be in effect Thursday through Sunday from Memorial Day to Labor Day at both parks and will allow anglers to park within the designated parking fields and walk to the beachfront. A state Sportfishing or Beach Vehicle permit will be required to park after sunset. State parks is currently working out details with regard to access through electronic entrance and exit gates, as well as hiring nighttime staff. Access after Labor Day will be considered pending the results of the pilot program.

State Parks did consider 4×4 access but there were environmental concerns from some quarters regarding endangered wildlife, including piping plovers and certain plant species, and the vulnerable nature of these beachfronts.

Reopening Of Gilgo To Beach Vehicles

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

Final Reminder For State Permits

If you plan on accessing Gilgo, Sore Thumb, Democrat Point, Napeague, Hither Hills or Montauk this season and have not acquired your State Beach Vehicle Permit, you are running out of time. Likewise for the State Sportfishing (night fishing) and Camp Hero permits. The deadline is March 31 and they will not become available again until the Tuesday after Labor Day. You will need your driver’s license, vehicle registration and marine fishing registry to get your permit. The cost is $80. They are available at most major Long Island State Parks and at park headquarters in Belmont State Park. For permit info, call 631-321-3510.

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