Quogue Canal (West End) - The Fisherman

Quogue Canal (West End)

Funneled between the confines of Moriches and Shinnecock Bays, the Quogue Canal was once notorious for its exceptional early spring flounder run that began by mid/late February, and usually lasted until mid-April. Although the flounder fishing isn’t a stitch of days gone by, weakfish have done a fine job in recent memory of filling in the gaps that were once flounder territory. In fact, come late April and the first weakfish are beginning to make their presence felt. Count on them to stick around through May and depending on water clarity, they may attack offerings up to the full moon of June. At the time of the June moon, feeding is minimized as spawning becomes their first priority, which is done primarily along the shallow waters of Moneybogue and Quantuck Bays that are fed by small freshwater streams of groundwater origin on the mainland. This complex also includes tidal creeks and marshes feeding into Moriches and Shinnecock Bays. The ground water feeding into the canal is a solid 57 degrees year round, making it ideal early spring habitat when combined with dark muddy bottom, and marshes and creeks populated with grass shrimp and spearing. All of this translates to ideal habitat for early arriving weakfish and fluke.

Chart courtesy of Navionics.
Chart courtesy of Navionics.

There are many shallow areas along the Quogue Canal, but also many stretches of relatively deep-water with numerous holes that attract early season weakfish. Navigation through the canal can be tricky, therefore be certain to have a reliable GPS or paper chart to help you maneuver through these waters. Keep in mind that there are many speed zones going through the canal that are strictly and frequently enforced. Shore bound opportunities are extremely limited due to widespread parking restrictions. However, there is legal parking just north of the third bridge (Post Lane) where you can park and walk. As for the best tidal stage, both the incoming and outgoing will produce as long as there is a steady drift.

Weakfish feed on many different types of bait and that broad diet makes them susceptible to a wide variety of artificial lures and baits. Bucktails, soft plastics and jigs are a few of the more popular choices. When it comes to soft baits, it’s hard not to include Berkley Gulp and FishBites. Not only are they fluke killers, weakfish have a fondness for them as well. With Gulp, the 5-inch Jerk Shad in New Penny and Electric Chicken are my favorites, and FishBites Dirty Boxer was a hot bait for weaks last season. Light action spinning outfits in the 8- to 10-pound class are ideal for the task at hand providing you match it with reel featuring a smooth drag. Sticky drags are a nightmare due to the weak’s delicate jaw and will result in a lot of lost fish. Lastly, don’t forget the net and remember the one fish possession limit of 16 inches or better per day.

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