BSB Hitlist: 5 Must-Fish Reefs - The Fisherman

BSB Hitlist: 5 Must-Fish Reefs

sea-bass
Some great black sea bass fishing is expected right out of the gate this month on the South Shore reefs.

Five reefs guaranteed to produce black sea bass this month.

Long Island is a haven for anglers, offering a diverse range of fishing opportunities. Among the most sought-after species in these waters is the black sea bass from their opening day (June 23) to the close (December 31), known for their ease to catch and excellent fable fare.  Artificial reefs around Long Island have become prime locations for targeting sea bass, providing ideal habitats that attract these fish in large numbers. I’ll explore some of the best artificial reefs along the South Shore for sea bass fishing that will almost guarantee you success in your next fishing trip, particularly focusing on the prime summer months of July and August when these pieces are still loaded up.

Understanding Artificial Reefs

Artificial reefs are man-made structures placed underwater to promote marine life. These structures mimic the characteristics of natural reefs, providing shelter, food, for various fish species, including sea bass. In Long Island waters, artificial reefs are created by agencies such as the Department of Environmental Conservation using materials like rock, concrete, and retired ships, creating hotspots for anglers. These reefs offer excellent fishing grounds and are prime hot spots for sea bass fishing during the summer months.

Shinnecock Reef

Shinnecock Reef, located near Shinnecock Inlet, is one of the most popular artificial reefs for sea bass fishing during the month of June. This reef is composed of various materials, including rocks, concrete, and steel structures, designed to create an extensive habitat that attracts a diverse range of marine life. The reef coordinates are approximately 40.8150° N, 72.4883° W. During the peak summer months, medium to heavy tackle with squid, clams, or cut bait is recommended. Drifting over the reef and using a fish finder to locate schools can be highly productive. Try vertical jigging with diamond jigs on this piece if you want to go the artificial route. Remember to maintain a drift when jig fishing. These techniques allow you to cover more ground and find the schools of sea bass that frequent the reef. If you happen to find a large grouping of fish, anchoring or spot locking with a Minn Kota Terranova is the way to go.

Shinnecock Reef
Shinnecock Reef

Size: 850 acres (2025 x 2025 yards).
Depth: 76 to 84 feet.
Materials: 8 vessels, 5 barges, surplus armored vehicles, 7 steel centerbeam railcars, 1 drydock, rock, Tappan Zee Bridge materials, a steel and concrete tower, steel and concrete bridge rubble, steel pipes, steel beams, and steel bridge trusses.

Hempstead Reef

Hempstead Reef, an artificial reef located off the South Shore of Long Island, is a well-known spot for sea bass fishing. Hempstead Reef includes materials such as steel subway cars, concrete rubble, and rock ballast. These diverse structures create a rich, varied habitat that supports a wide range of marine life, making it a hotspot for sea bass. The reef coordinates are approximately 40.5938° N, 73.5570° W.

The optimal time to fish at Hempstead Reef for these fish is in the heart of summer. Use medium to heavy tackle with squid, clam or soft plastics such as Gulp Grubs or Fishbites strips on a hi-low rig. Anchoring near the reef and casting towards it can yield good results. Use a combination of bait and artificial lures to hone in best on the fish depending on the day and what they want. Also try vertical jigging as well with bucktails, spoons and sand eel-style jigs. This approach can help you effectively target sea bass hiding within the reef structures. Sometimes I like to incorporate a teaser about 2 feet above my jig on this reef for potential at a double header.

Hempstead Reef
Hempstead Reef

Size: 850 acres (3085 yards x 1335 yards).
Depth: 50 to 72 feet.
Materials: 14 vessels, 2 barges, 3 steel power plant turbines, 16 steel centerbeam railcars, surplus armored vehicles, 1 drydock, Tappan Zee Bridge materials, City Island Bridge materials, Mill Basin Bridge materials, steel bridge trusses, and concrete rubble.

Fire Island Reef

Fire Island Reef
Fire Island Reef

This reef, situated off the coast near Fire Island Inlet, is another prime location for sea bass fishing. The Fire Island Reef features a variety of materials, including concrete and rock, creating an intricate underwater landscape that attracts sea bass. The reef coordinates are approximately 40.6200° N, 73.1533° W.

I enjoy using spinning gear on this reef. Something along the lines of a 7-foot medium action rod with a 5000-size spinning reel is comfortable for me. If you prefer conventional tackle you can do so here as well with a combo of about medium power. Drifting over the reef while using a fish finder to pinpoint schools can be very effective. Employ slow, steady retrieves with diamond jigs or larger epoxy jigs and soft plastics like Gulp Grubs for a good shot at sea bass here. This technique helps mimic the natural movement of prey, making it more enticing to aggressive sea bass coming off the structures

Size: 850 acres (3085 yards x 1335 yards).
Depth: 62 to 73 feet.
Materials: 5 vessels, 13 barges, 2 boat hulls, 6 pontoons, surplus armored vehicles, 2 drydocks, Tappan Zee Bridge materials, 16 steel centerbeam railcars, 2 steel miter gates, 1 steel tainter gate, steel bridge girders, steel lift bridge sections, steel pipe, steel lifting towers, rock, concrete cesspool rings, concrete forms, concrete slabs, and rubble.

Moriches Reef

Moriches Reef, located off the coast near Moriches Inlet, is a well-established artificial reef known for its productive sea bass fishing in July. The reef’s composition of rock and steel structures provides ample shelter for sea bass. The reef coordinates are approximately 40.7467° N, 72.7150° W.

Use medium tackle with squid, clams, or cut strip baits. I’ve done very well diamond jigging sea bass at this location as well. Focus on areas with structure since the area is rather large and filled with many different pieces and use a fish finder to locate schools. Drifting and vertical jigging can be productive, along with a slow, steady retrieve of soft plastics.

Moriches Reef
Moriches Reef

Size: 850 acres (2025 yards x 2025 yards).
Depth: 70 to 80 feet.
Materials: 12 vessels, 5 barges, surplus armored vehicles, Tappan Zee Bridge materials, 4 steel centerbeam railcars, steel floorbeams, and concrete pipes.

Rockaway Reef

Rockaway Reef, located off the coast near Rockaway Beach, is a popular artificial reef for sea bass fishing featureing materials such as steel subway cars, concrete blocks, and large rocks. These structures provide excellent cover and feeding grounds for sea bass, making it a highly productive fishing spot. . The reef is made up of concrete, rock, and other materials, providing an ideal habitat for sea bass. The reef coordinates are approximately 40.5667° N, 73.8333° W and it a fairly short shot from Breezy, Rockaway Inlet or even Jones Inlet.

Conventional tackle used in combination with a hi-lo rig baited with salted clams or Fishbites E-Z squid strip pieces has been known to work very well.

Rockaway Reef features materials such as steel subway cars, concrete blocks, and large rocks. These structures provide excellent cover and feeding grounds for sea bass, making it a highly productive fishing spot.

Rockaway Reef
Rockaway Reef

Size: 635 acres (2639 yards x 1173 yards).
Depth: 32 to 40 feet.
Materials: 1 barge, 60 steel buoys, Tappan Zee Bridge materials, rock, concrete buoy sinkers, concrete slabs, concrete pipes, concrete culvert, concrete decking, and rubble.
Comments: Rock rubble is scattered throughout the reef site.

Additional Tips

Sea bass can be found at various depths, depending on the time of year and water temperature. Experiment with different depths until you locate the fish. Using a fish finder can greatly assist in identifying the right depth. If you’re not having success in one spot, don’t hesitate to move – some of the reefs are within reach of others that might be producing better. Keep in mind sea bass regulations this years are the following as well: 16.5-inch minimum size; 3 fish per angler from June 23 – August 31 then is increases to 6fish per angler from September 1 – December 31.

Long Island offers an abundance of prime sea bass fishing spots, particularly around its well-maintained artificial reefs. Whether you’re fishing from a boat or chartering a trip or on one of the South Shore party boats, these locations provide excellent opportunities to catch sea bass and enjoy the beautiful waters of Long Island. Remember to use the right gear, stay informed about local regulations, and respect the environment to ensure a successful and enjoyable fishing experience.

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