Located between Gravesend and Lower New York Bay, in sight of the Coney Island Lighthouse, Norton’s Point is part of the Gateway National Recreation Area and is a favorite destination for West End anglers. Whether you fish via boat or shore, this area will have your rod bending on almost every trip. To access Nortons Point, anglers need to head due west from Rockaway Inlet for approximately five miles. Nortons Point is located at N40-34.686 W74-00.793. For shorebound anglers, access is by way for Gateway National Recreation area. For a map of the area, refer to Capt. Segulls Nautical Chart number NYH 114.
In the 1970s, when weakfish were in abundance, anglers headed for this hot spot in droves. Each summer anglers would have a blast with them whether from the surf or by boat. Weakfish to 16 pounds and larger were a common sight, with plenty of fish over 10 pounds in the mix. Although weakfish action has tapered off compared to that timeframe, there are still opportunities worth exploring.
According owner Pat Scaglione at EZ Catch Bait and Tackle on Staten Island, the area is made up of flats, ledges, rips and strong current, which attract bass, fluke, blues, weakfish and more. For starting points, the Coney Island Flats is an especially super area for fluke during the summer. From late June through until the final bell rings on the season, anglers bouncing bucktails and plastic jigs tipped with spearing, sand eels or squid strips do a fine job on quality fluke. In fact, if you use larger baits like Peruvian spearing or whole squid, doormats in the 10-pound class can be found.
The area plays host to scattered winter flounder action and good fluke action as the summer months arrive. However, the spring and fall runs of stripers and weakfish, with some blues in the mix too, but not as abundant as in years past, is what drives anglers to the Nortons Point area. Diamond jigs with red, green or white tubes seem to work best in sizes 27, 47 and 67. For weakfish, drop down to A17 tubes and tip them with sandworms. With the area seeing a solid amount of current, jigs will produce best. Use the lightest jig needed to get it down in the current, without it running away, and never reaching the bottom. As the tide increases; and it gets more difficult to get down, remove the tube and go with a bare hook.
As October rolls in, and stripers begin to put on the feedbag, anglers using live bait during the last of the incoming current and beginning of the outgoing could be in for wild action. Pat feels that the best time for this would be late October through the close of the season. Pat also suggested you keep an eye on the area earlier. If bunker shows early in the fall, stripers and blues will find them pretty quickly. Moving back to the start of the season, school stripers will begin showing in late March, followed by bass in the 10 to 20 pound class. However, once bunker arrive in the area, expect to see larger cows in the 30 plus class in abundance. These fish at that point will be filtering out of the Hudson!
On the bait end, live bunker, spot, legal size porgies, kingfish and live eels will all account for trophy bass. If livelining is not for you, then don’t overlook the old stand-by – frozen or freshly chunked bunker and salted clams. Remember to use circle hooks when targeting stripers with bait.
On the tackle end, a typical 6-1/2 to 7-1/2 rod rated for 15 to 30 pounds matched to a good quality conventional reel will fit the bill. I prefer mono when livelining, but braid when using bait. For hooks, nothing beats a 6/0 to 8/0 in line circle hook from the manufacturer of your choice. They all make great hooks these days, so I personally have no preference. If you are livelining a bait like bunker or other fish (as opposed to eels), use a two-hook rig, with one hook in the nostril area and the second just behind the dorsal.
Nortons Point may not be in the same class as some feel Montauk is, but believe me, if you put in your time, you will be rewarded with trophy stripers, blues and large enough fluke to feed a family dinner.
For info, stop by EZ Catch Bait and Tackle, located at 5 Tysen St., Staten Island NY 10301. You can also call Pat at (718) 727-7373. And, don’t forget, Pat makes and sells some of the finest crab traps around and can set you up for a banner year where and have your crab pot filled for the family barbecue!