Planning The Season: Freeport Fishing Primer - The Fisherman

Planning The Season: Freeport Fishing Primer

freeport
The boating and fishing capital of the east.

A month by month and species by species guide to one of the hottest ports in the Northeast right now.

Freeport, NY – Although it’s no secret, many anglers overlook Freeport’s legitimate world class fishing that’s all within a stone’s throw of some of the best beaches, culture and city in the world.  The Freeport waters have bountiful striped bass to well over 50 pounds, limits of fluke with many jumbos, crazy inshore exotics like cobia, giant bluefin tuna, mahi and easy access to top-tier midshore and canyon fishing.

Truth be told, I live in the area and my circle of fellow captains and sharp friends are literally slaying lifetime catches across all species. However, I still can’t figure out why I hear from people that “fishing in Freeport isn’t that good compared to other Long Island destinations.”  Seriously, we’re catching huge fish with many limits consistently—not just every once in a while. This has been especially true over the last five years—the fishing has just been lights out.  On top of stellar ‘normal fare’ species, we are catching cobia and giant bluefin to 100 inches. What more can anyone ask for?

Maybe it’s less noticed because there is a lower concentration of charter and head boats compared to other areas thus receiving less attention. Professional fishermen and sharpies are consistently dialed in. And with fewer of these boats in Freeport, there are fewer steady catches, limits and info.  To be clear though, the pros are leading the charge in Freeport just like they do in other parts of Long Island.

In order to have your shot at limits and personal bests, the hot hand is pursued and with preparation done well in advance.  Know the timeframe of what you are looking to target, plan your trip and be ready. This includes booking a trip with your favorite Freeport charter captain/head boats or gearing up and prepping your own boat.

Below is the schedule Corazon Fishing generally follows.  Common sense applies and we will move to a bite that heats up since nothing is exact with migratory patterns.

cobia
A great pair of cobia caught off Jones Inlet. Photo courtesy of Adam Ross.

April

BEST BET – STRIPED BASS

Big striped bass is the ticket—make the run along the beach and the fish are in the Romer Shoal, Staten Island, Raritan Bay area. Tony Maja Mojos are the staple in these spots too.  We fish the tandem rigs—one mid-depth and the other on the bottom using Accurate Valiant 500 reels. The water is less than 30 feet and the fish are abundant. Blackfish is open for the month also—this is the time of year to use clams at the local wrecks outside.

May

BEST BET – STRIPED BASS OR FLUKE (IN THE BAY)

Big striped bass to the west is still hot and they’re starting to move along the beach. By the end of the month, they will be outside Jones and Deb’s inlet. As you make the run look for gannets—if you find them stop and deploy Flutter Spoons.  This is potluck angling with schoolies to large breeders in the mix. If you make it into the NY Bight, look for the bait and fish on your sonar.  We utilize SIMRAD electronics with a 1KW CHIRP HW transducer. There will be enormous amounts of bait—rainbait, herring and bunker.  Fish live bunker if you find them. If not, go back to the MoJo’s. The bass will also start to show in the Freeport bays where plugging, soft baits and clam chum are other good options.

Fluke in the bay during this time of the year can be a blast.  Light tackle and light bucktails in the back bays of Freeport—concentrate on 4 feet of water on the edges of deeper water. Best times are the second half of the outgoing tide on a sunny day.

June

Best Bet – Striped Bass, Sea Bass/Fluke

Striped Bass are out in front of Debs and Jones in June—look to the front and back side of the new and full moons for the most likely times to come across a blitz. There may be bunker around—if so, you can try livelining.  The better bets are Tony Maja Bunker Spoons or Mojos in 40 to 50 feet of water.  Look for the bait and you likely will hook up with slots and jumbos.  Fish your lures staggered—one mid-depth the other as close to the bottom as you can. Striped bass are also loaded in the bay—soft baits and clams are preferred lure of choice here.

Get in on opening day for sea bass at the Hempstead Reef.  These fish will be picked fast and after that go to your ‘secret’ blackfish spots to continue picking away at more sea bass there.  Hi-lo rigs or slow pitch jigs both works well.

Fluke in the bay is still hot but they will start moving out to the inlets during the month of June.

Thresher sharks may start moving into the area as well.

DOUGDJ
Capt. Doug and Mate DJ with a yellowfin tuna caught on the mid-shore grounds.

July

BEST BET – MID SHORE TUNA, FLUKE/SEABASS, COBIA/GIANTS

Fluke have moved to the all the local reefs. Fishing is great with lots of action and you’ll need to work at it to get the limits. A fun day can be had with the potential for a mixed bag with sea bass mixed In. Hi-lo rigs in structure are the norm.

Cobia have been on the schools of bunker that settle into our area the past few years.  Also mixed in are catch and release sharks including blacktips which can be exciting using topwater plugs.

Mid-shore tuna in the 30 to 70 mile range should have started making an appearance around Father’s Day. The bluefin show up first and as the water warms up the yellowfin have been filling in. You need to be dialed into the offshore scene to figure out where to go.

Giant and mid-sized bluefin may make an appearance in local waters—know these rules well around this federal fishery.

Threshers are around in the 20-fathom curves and moving east.

August

chart

Red = Best Fishing

Green = Extremely Good

Yellow = Good

BEST BET – FLUKE!

This is our month to shine for fluke.  Limits and jumbos are the name of the game. We also typically see another body of sea bass also show up.  Find the fish between 50 to 70 feet of water. And once you find them dial in using electronics.

The small pelagics also make an appearance in the shipping channels—mahi, bonito, Spanish macs and maybe a school bluefin.

The Hudson Canyons may start to heat up and remember to pay attention to the mid-shore bite which may be fire or nonexistent.

September

BEST BET – FLUKE/SEA BASS/PORGIES AND KEEP AN EYE ON INSHORE AND OFFSHORE PELAGICS

This month is the hardest to predict. Sea bass and porgies are the surest bet. Fluke at the beginning of the month is likely—fish your blackfish spots for your shot at the double-digit as these fish exit!

Inshore Pelagics are always fun with bonito, Spanish macs during September. False albacore will also start to move in.

Hudson and mid-shore tuna could be good but the weather window is typically the most challenging part.

diana
The author’s wife with an upper 40-pound class striper that was safely released this past fall on a spoon.

October

BEST BET – CHUNKING TUNA, BLACKFISH (BRIDGES), LOOKOUT FOR STRIPED BASS

The past few years have seen banner yellowfin tuna on the chunk mid-shore scene.

Also, the Hudson Canyon will likely also be in full swing.

Striped Bass should make an appearance—2022 saw action at the beginning of the month which was early from past schedules. You need to figure out what the bite is on—it could be livelining bunker, jigging Flutter Spoons or trolling in the 50-foot depth. And sometimes all of the above.

Blackfish are in the bays at the local bridges.

Hudson and mid-shore tuna could be really good. The weather windows should increase but daylight is getting shorter.

November

IG – @CorazonFishingCapt. Doug Topack owns/operates Corazon Fishing with his son as first mate and has over 30 years of fishing in all NY waters.  He specializes in lifetime personal best inshore/offshore fishing and has 2 IGFA records sailing out of Freeport, NY on their locally rebuilt 35-foot Duffy Downeast.

BEST BET – STRIPED BASS, BLACKFISH

This is typically the height of striped bass season—like October, figure out what the bite is on.  We’ll cover this in the future article.

Sea bass and porgies are around in good numbers but moving to the deeper water.

Blackfish are also starting to light up in earnest.

The Hudson Canyon can still be good but the weather is a factor.

December

BEST BET – STRIPED BASS, BLACKFISH

Striped Bass winds down but goes out with a bang with endless slot-sized fish and schoolies on Flutter Spoons and plugs under the gannets.

Blackfish should be in full swing to close the season out as we get ready to wrap our boats up and review 2023 adventures.

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