It was back in March when we wrote about this Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) access site that was under construction at the time. That site is now a reality and has been open to the public for several weeks. Known as the Hashamomuck Marine Waterway Access Site, it sits on 3.2-acres of waterfront property on Old Main Road in Southold, just east of Port Of Egypt Fishing Station and Marina.
The site includes a double boat launch ramp, a T-shaped fishing/observation pier with a 6-foot wide deck leading to the 10-foot wide “T” end section, canoe and kayak launch, accessible pathway, Port-A-Johns and 37-vehicle parking lot for 31 trailers and six cars. These amenities are universally accessible and available to the public free of charge. A boat pump-out station, washdown station, and additional plantings will be added to the site later this year. The site is DEC’s first and only unrestricted waterway access site on the Peconic Bay and provides easy access for all anglers to this popular and productive body of water.
I was introduced to the outstanding fishing potential of these waters by Capt. John Paduano over 20 years ago. Since then, the Peconic Estuary has become one of my favorite spring and early summer fishing destinations, despite the access limitations previously faced by non-residents. These waters are made to order for light tackle anglers targeting a smorgasbord of popular inshore species, including porgies, fluke, weakfish, striped bass, bluefish and sea bass. Many trips have seen all six of these species hit the deck over the course of a day, all taken while bucktailing with light spinning tackle.
Hashamomuck will provide trailer boat access to some of the best inshore fishing on the Island as it puts you within range of such hotspots as Jessups Neck, Rose Grove, Nassau Point, Robins Island, South Race, Noyack Bay, Rogers Rock, Greenlawns, South Ferry, Gardiners Bay and Plum Gut. Noyack Bay has been hosting excellent mixed bag action for weakfish, porgies, blowfish and sea bass during the summer and fall months. Gardiners Bay usually sees a good summer run of fluke and the fish rich waters around Orient Point, especially Plum Gut, provide steady striped bass and bluefish action throughout the season (the ride from Hashamomuck to the Gut is about 12 miles).
The Department of Conservation (DEC) purchased the 3.2-acre property, the former location of The Old Barge Restaurant which closed in 2009, from the Reiter family in 2012. The restaurant was destroyed during Hurricane Sandy in October of 2012, prior to DEC purchasing the property. The purchase and construction was funded with a Sport Fish Restoration Program grant (excise taxes on fishing tackle, motorboat fuel, and small engines pay into the Sport Fish Restoration Trust Fund) from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), matched by State funding. In addition, a generous charitable donation from the Carl D. and Helen Reiter and Reiter-Denson families helped DEC acquire the parcel.
The site is part of a larger effort and plan of the NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources to improve recreational and fishing access in the area. The project is supported by the Marine Recreational Fishing Access Plan and Generic Environmental Impact Statement prepared by the NYSDEC Division of Marine Resources in 1993, which cited a number of limitations on recreational and fishing access, and is part of a larger New York State effort to improve outdoor recreation facilities across the state.
The site becomes one of only five state-owned and managed facilities that provide access to the waters around Long Island. These areas are critical access points for the public to be able to boat, fish, and connect with nature. DEC successfully used Sport Fish Restoration funding to develop and maintain its other Long Island Waterway Access Sites, including Mattituck Inlet, Oyster Ponds (East Marion), Oyster Bay Western Waterfront, and Moriches Bay. However, this is the first time DEC has used Sport Fish Restoration funds to purchase a marine access site.