N 40 47.60’ / W 72 42.96’
Moriches Bay offers anglers numerous opportunities for a variety of species. You can fish the Elbow area for stripers, triggerfish and fluke. Head over to the mouth of the Forge River for flounder, blues and fluke. Fish the Narrows for big blues, stripers, fluke and flounder. Head west to the “Hole” and catch a few weakfish. There are many other spots too, but one of my favorites is Harts Cove. Since the dredging to the main channel this past year, Harts Cove seems to be even better than in years past.
In speaking with Jay Scott of Silly Lily Fishing Station I learned that this year, the area has been home to some very solid fluke action, with plenty of blues and school stripers also taking up residence in the Cove. Jay feels the dredging has helped by allowing fluke to more easily traverse deeper into the cove from the main channel. Another added benefit to the dredging is there appears to be more bait than in years past. This is tough to imagine since Harts Cove has always attracted an abundance of baitfish.
Harts Cove is relatively shallow, ranging in depth from 2 to 6 feet. The cove, if you are looking at a good chart like Capt. Segull’s SLI107, is located just east of the Moriches Coast Guard Station and west of Seatuck Cove. The channel in the cove is clearly marked with buoys, but be wary as the depths, especially at the low end of the tide will have your prop dredging the bottom just outside the channel markers.
For fluke, the cove offers very good early season action on the incoming tide, but as the season progresses, the outgoing tide will also produce quite well. Although it is not an easy feat, try and drift down the channel towards the base of the cove. Work your bait from shallow to deep on each cast, rather than just drifting along. A trolling motor on the bow, or even a small kicker on the stern, helps control the direction of your drift. Fluke lie on the edges of the channel waiting for bait, or as an easy access point to chase down dinner into the shallows. Fluke are predators and are no different than a ravaging bluefish or striper. I have seen them feeding on the surface, so believe me, they are active predators that aggressively pursue a meal.
For rigs and bait, you cannot go wrong with small bucktails from 3/8 to 3/4 ounces. The Berkley Fusion or Spro are good options, tipped with a large spearing or strip of squid. You need to keep your bucktail moving/hopping along the bottom to discourage crabs. Fluke also at times lie on a bait. I have seen this first hand in the shallows where a fluke comes up and lies on a bucktail, then as it slides out, engulfs it. With this in mind, if you feel dead weight, slowly lift your rod tip and feel for a head shake.
The best time to target bass and blues in the Cove is early a.m. or dusk, especially where bass are concerned. Blues are often most active near the top of the tide and are relatively easy to track down. Just keep an eye out for working birds and work the fringes of the school. Bass can be caught on topwater plugs, bucktails and swimming plugs. For blues, you cannot beat a 1-ounce Crippled Herring or Kastmaster. Remember, these shallows are made to order for light tackle so keep it that way. A 6- to 6-1/2 foot rod, 2500- to 3000- series reel and 10-pound test are ideal for fishing the cove.
GETTING THERE: If you trailer your own boat, access to Harts Cove is easy for Brookhaven residents as the launch ramp on Maple Avenue leads directly into the cove. For non-residents, you can launch at the county ramp at the base of the Smith Point Bridge. From the Smith Point Bridge, follow the buoys through Narrows Bay and head for the Coast Guard Station. Once at the Coast Guard Station, follow the markers into the cove. For those without a boat, Silly Lily Fishing Station can set you up with a rental skiff and it is an easy ride from the station to Harts Cove. You can reach Silly Lily at 631-878-0247.