Peconic Bay Delights: Keep The Party Going - The Fisherman

Peconic Bay Delights: Keep The Party Going

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Author Tony Salerno with a Peconic Bay fluke from Cedar Point area caught during the month of June on a bucktail jig and conventional tackle.

From May, into the entire month of June, Peconic Bay is a producer for several species.

When it comes to fishing in the Peconic Bays, the month of May has always been an extremely productive time to enjoy the offerings, which include weakfish, bluefish, sea bass, striped bass, fluke, and big sea porgies. Perhaps you may be wondering what makes this body of water so productive so early in the season compared to the later start from the waters that surround this “Diamond in the Rough.”  Well, for starters, the waters inside the Peconic Estuary warm a lot sooner than most of the bays and harbors of both the South and North Shores of Long Island due to many underwater springs as well as the rivers and creeks that spill water in the 57- degree range into both the Great and Little Peconic Bays year round. Secondly, the bottom contour of both bays is tailor-made for the annual spring spawn for many different species of bottom feeders, gamefish, and especially a myriad of baitfish that nest and seek refuge throughout much of the year. And while most of the spawning is complete for each species by the June full moon, much of the forage baitfish, groundfish, and gamesters take advantage of the water temperatures comfort zone as well as the fine dining and accommodations that they often stick around during the month of June, treating anglers to some exceptional fishing with the species of their choice.

Cow Bass Plentiful

Noyack Bay has been one of the hottest weakfish spots during May and June. However what many anglers may not realize is that the area inside Shelter Island Sound between Jessup Neck and the South Ferry Slip off North Haven, northwest of Sag Harbor, has seen the waters paved with giant stripers in the 25 to 50-pound range throughout June, feeding primarily on bunker both day and night.

The Ferry Slip is just around the corner of North Haven Peninsula. Here you will find turbulent current that races to 6 knots and even harder on a new or full moon or a classic Nor’easter. Depths here range from 30 to 50 feet deep and are most productive being fished either by trolling Mojo’s or parachutes or by fishing live or cut bunker. When employing the latter, the standard 3×3 rig is one of two methods that suffice. The hard currents will require sinkers as heavy as 16 ounces to hit the bottom, where most of the cow bass will be. Circle hooks from 6/0 to 8/0 snelled to a 6-foot length of 40-pound fluorocarbon leader is best. When the current is moderate or coming to an end, the Fishfinder Rig uses a 3 or 4-ounce egg sinker slid onto the main line, a barrel swivel to keep the sinker from sliding down the leader, which should also be a 6-foot length of fluorocarbon of 40-pound test.

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You still have a shot at quality weakfish during the month of June. FDNY Chief Dan holds up a Jessup Neck tiderunner caught during the month.

The Return Of The Weakfish

From the 1980s until 2019, weakfish have been relatively absent from the Peconic Bays. Oh, sure, there are always a few fish that make it to the spawning grounds each spring, but nothing to write home about. There were good spurts of the smaller summer weakfish in the 1 to 3-pound class during July and August some years, but those big spring tiderunners never materialized. Then, in 2020, thank goodness the weakies were back with plenty of big fish over 10 pounds in the mix, with fish mainly between 4 and 8 pounds. Judging by the biomass, it seems as if the fish are here to stay for several years.

As for where to fish, the month of June offers a wide range of areas that produce a good weakfish bite. The waters around Greenport have been white-hot at times, while the areas around Jessup Neck and Nassau Point have been red-hot as well. Buoy 16 north of Noyack Bay has been consistent year after year during an incoming tide in 50 feet of water. The 70-foot depths by buoy 17 off Jessup Neck have been quite productive during an outgoing tide. Here at buoy 17, you will find plenty of bluefish on both sides of the tide, as well as a few monster sea bass. Two to 3-ounce plain hook diamond jigs with a red tube teaser tied a foot above the diamond jig have been the true weakfish lure in recent times. Hi-lo rigs tipped with squid strips are also effective if that is your preference. The usual array of soft baits, such as Bass Assassins, Zoom, Z-Man, and Berkley Gulp, are fine when the fish are in the shallow water, but they are a bit difficult to fish in the deep water and swift currents.

In addition, the waters off Nassau Point are an excellent area in June that often produces good-sized weakfish. Depths fluctuate enormously off Nassau Point as the average water depth surrounding the point is between 25 and 35 feet. However, approximately 3/4 of a nautical mile E.N.E of red buoy 22 lies a deep pocket of water between 60 and 70 feet. It is this deep water that has often been overlooked, yet excellent weakfish action can be found here on any moving tide. Generally, however, the start of the outgoing definitely has the edge. Working in this area thoroughly will certainly increase your chances of filling your limit.

Just opposite Nassau Point, Rose Grove gives way to excellent weakfish action that really lights up throughout June. Along the west side of Shelter Island, the area known as the Green Lawns has always been a popular fluke haunt throughout the spring. However, plenty of respectable weakfish also reside with fluke here through June. Also, don’t ignore the southern tip of Robins Island (South Race), which is close to the bell buoy at 25 and the nun buoy at 26, which produces solid spurts of weakfish. This area should be drifted coming on or off the drop-off south of Robin’s Island, where it will drop or rise (depending on how you drift) from approximately 18 feet to 30 feet of water. The current can really rip through here, so fish in this area as the current eases, especially on a tide change. Diamond jigs and teaser tubes, as well as hi/lo rigs and squid strips, will also get the job done at these locations.

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The scup action carries over from May to June at Rodger’s Rock, located inside Peconic Bay.

Porgies Galore

One of the most productive areas when it comes to scup is the area that surrounds Roger’s Rock, which is chock-full of rocks and strewn bottom, which is tailor-made for scup. Since this is a relatively large area, you can run into a pile of porgies at any given time. If you are looking for a starting point, try just east and north of the Obstruction Buoy or along the edges of where the rocks meet the sandy bottom in 20 to 25 feet of water along the north side of the rock. Anyone heading to Rogers Rock for porgies should anchor on the backside (east side) of the rock in the 10 to 15-foot depths and make sure to have a couple of chum pots filled with frozen blocks of clam chum in order to draw the scup to the boat for some fast-paced action.

Keep in mind that although both sides of the tide with moving water will produce shallow water porgy fishing, it is often torrid just after dawn or just before dusk. You may want to plan accordingly; however, plenty of daytime action is available at Rogers. While clams and squid will often work just fine on the scup, having some sandworms on hand can be a day saver as porgies will rarely pass up the red meat, especially when the barometric pressure is high.

The Fluke Of June

Anglers looking to cash in on the traditional spring run of fluke along the crowded waters that surround Shelter Island may want to consider fishing just a tad southeast, along Cedar Point, where this lightly fished area produces some heavy fluke action to the end of June. Located just east of the southernmost portion of Shelter Island, Cedar Point is often overlooked for its potential as anglers concentrate their efforts on the more traditional areas, such as Bugs Light on the east side of the island and the Green Lawns along the west side. Cedar Point is located at the end of a peninsula that is just between Northwest Harbor and Gardiners Bay. Boaters can easily identify Cedar Point by the lighthouse located approximately 200 yards just west of the point on Cedar Island. Shallow water surrounds the peninsula of Cedar Point, with depths varying from one to 10 feet during low tide. Just past the lighthouse, a pocket of deepwater runs approximately a mile north and south of Cedar Point. The water depth along the pocket ranges between 25 and 45 feet and plays host to fluke throughout the month of June.

Schools of squid, spearing, and bay anchovies move into the area during June with fluke on their tails. As the month of June arrives, so do the sand eels, attracting even more omnivorous predators. By the end of the month, the main concentration of fluke will depart from the area and head for the deeper cooler waters inside Gardiners Bay.

Bluefish and porgies will then pick up the slack as July and August arrive, along with some kingfish and summer weakfish. The currents move swiftly through the area; therefore, consider beefing up the tackle a bit. There are times when 2 or 3 ounces of lead will hold the bottom.

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Hitting the Shelter Island ferry slip area in Sag Harbor during the month of June will set you up for striper success.

June is also the ideal month to fish in the area known as the Green Lawns, which is located along the west side of Shelter Island between Shelter Island Sound and Little Peconic Bay. The name is derived from a pair of mansions that were side by side, each with lawns of identical size, distinguishing the location. Moreover, while the landscape and scenery may be impressive, it is certainly not the reason why anglers cluster around this area each season; rather it is the spring runs of fluke, bluefish, and weakfish, as well as platter-size porgies and jumbo blowfish that settle here during May and June that draws the attention. The bottom contour consists of gravel and sandy bottom as well as some rocks and plenty of hills and slopes. In turn, this particular habitat attracts a myriad of forage, including squid and spearing, that look to avoid being ambushed by fluke, weakfish, and bluefish. Combine the elements, and it’s no mystery as to why these species of fish see this place as one grand buffet. The water depth varies between 10 and 65 feet, with a moderate current at most. Drifting by the lawns requires sinkers or jigs ranging from 1 to 6 ounces depending on the stage of the tide, lunar phase, and wind conditions. Most anglers start their fluke season here at the lawns at the start of the season opener. However, the past couple of years have seen some of the best fluke fishing here throughout the month of June, with plenty of keepers and limits abound. When fishing the area, it is best to drift both the upside and downside of the shoals in 45 to 65 feet of water on either moving tide. Fresh long strips or whole squid would be feasible using plain standard fluke rigs, which usually produce the biggest fluke during June. The fluke action will hang on until early July, at which time they will move off towards Gardiners Bay.

Lastly, bluefish round out our barrel of opportunities and since they are an insatiable species always on the prowl for their next meal, it would be safe to say that the choppers will find you before you find them. Should you want to have fun with them, small diamond jigs or any shiny lure and a light spinning rod will be sufficient.

Well, there you have it. Be sure to spend a day or two this June in the waters of the Peconic. Believe me, it’s an experience like no other.

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