South Shore: Wash Winners - The Fisherman

South Shore: Wash Winners


Here are my wash winners for the south shore sand beaches of Long Island.


If you find a bite to be picky, don’t be afraid to add a feather or hair teaser into any of these lures listed above. I like to use a dropper loop about 16 to 20 inches ahead of my lure, with the dropper loop being about 3 inches long. Teasers can be the key to cashing in at this time of the year.


The month of November can see some dynamite fishing along Long Island’s south shore beaches. You still have a shot at some larger fish, but smaller ones will be numerous and an absolute joy to catch on proper tackle. These fish can often be found right on the beach, meaning long casts aren’t always necessary to reach them.

Combine some bait (sand eels) and a bit of southerly wind—that leaves you with a “washing machine” like scenario where disorientated bait becomes easy pickings for hungry stripers. But what do you use when presented with these conditions and slender baits as the main course for the bass? Here are my wash winners for the south shore sand beaches.

Tsunami Sand Eel

These slender paddletail baits come in four sizes and a couple of different colors, giving you a wide range of options to choose from. They start with the 6-inch model and go all the way up to 9 inches. Of course, they all work but knowing the right size to throw at the right time is the key. Personally, I found my favorite and most versatile model to be the 7 inch, although the 6 inch has done well for me on days where the wind is at a minimum. I’ve actually had more luck fishing the larger models in the back bays mimicking a larger American eel over a sand eel that you would find on a sand beach during the fall run. I haven’t found the color to matter much when using these baits. Both options do an excellent job at matching a natural pattern and produce similar results.

Savage Sand Eel

When most anglers think of the Savage Sand Eel they think of the largest model, which has quickly become a Cape Cod Canal favorite. And I can attest, from personal experience, these baits are a killer in the Canal. This bait is available in over a dozen patterns and five sizes, giving you almost endless options. I’ve grown quite fond of the smallest 5-inch model for matching sand eels on the beach. Though these baits have a lighter head, it’s unique design allows it cut through the water column and reach the strike zone quickly. The only thing that will hold you back from utilizing the lighter 5-inch model is higher winds. Another bonus is the tails are detachable from the jighead, which means if the soft body gets chewed up, you can swap it out for another body without having to throw away the whole lure.


Fishlab Mad Eel

The Mad Eel was introduced in 2020 and found its place immediately alongside the other slender profile paddletail baits. The larger versions also proved themselves as worthy options for targeting large stripers in the Big Ditch. Their vast range of sizes, from the small 5 inch to the largest at 8, allows them to excel under several conditions and scenarios. Earlier in the season, I found extreme success with the 7-inch model catching fluke off Montauk Point. This article isn’t about fluking, but this trip did demonstrate the effectiveness and versatility of this excellent bait. This success carries over into the surf. The 5- and 6-inch models have ‘sand eel’ written all over them. A wide array of beautiful colors rounds out the reasons why the Mad Eel is a proven winner in the south shore surf.


Joe Baggs Sand Eel

One of the newer lures from Joe Baggs happens to be another option for mimicking sand eels. Joe Baggs Sand Eels feature lifelike holographic bodies combined with a strong hook and perfect sizes make this one an excellent pick for working the wash. For the calmer days, the 4.5 inch, 5/8-ounce model can be finessed through the troughs to gain the attention of stripers. The largest 6.5-inch, 2-ounce-lure can be thrown through a stiff wind and features a bigger profile that stripers may find easier to find in the wash. The Sand Eels are also available in a 5.5 inch, 1 ounce size, and a 6 inch 1.5 ounce model.


Premium Bucktails

Another technique I’ve adapted into my arsenal over the last few seasons is snap-jigging the wash with light bucktail jigs. In combination with round head Premium Bucktails, this method has proven itself deadly for catching striped bass when they settle close in. These jigs are popular in both 5/8 and 3/4 ounces for the sand beach. The one you choose will depend on the ocean conditions that day. All the patterns work exceptionally well, but I’ve found myself leaning on the ‘sand eel’ pattern during this portion of the season for no other reason than matching the hatch.


Super Strike Needlefish

Most surfcasters associate the needlefish with after-dark fishing but don’t rule it out during daylight hours. The 5.25-inch, 1-, and 1.7-ounce models can be deadly when sand eels are around. Casting one out, allowing it to sink, and working it through the trough is a great way to find the fish. Also, remember this lure casts extremely well, so you can probe distant structure. Natural colors will always get the nod from me, but a white, green, or yellow needle  can be just as effective on certain days.


Ava Jig

The Ava Jig (Diamond Jig) probably is the most common lure used on the beach during the sand eel run. Its simplicity, availability, and effectiveness are the reasons why so many anglers rely on them. But you can’t count on them to always be easy to get, most tackle shops will sell out of them during the peak of a run, giving the lures listed above more opportunities to shine. These jigs have extreme castability, and using them is extremely simple. Don’t rule the Ava Jig this fall—I’ve personally witnessed some spectacular catches on this longtime favorite.




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