A small lighthouse with big fishing opportunity around it.
Up until last year, I had only fished the Bug Light area a handful of times, and it was many years ago. I remember the area being full of life, with porgies, fluke, sea bass, weakfish and blues quite abundant. Last year my son-in-law Isa Muqattash invited me to head that way as he fished it with a buddy the week before and had a blast.
Off to the “Bug”
After traversing through Shelter Island Sound and past the famous Greenlawns we headed straight into the Long Beach Bar Lighthouse (Bug Light). In case you were wondering, it is called Bug Light due to how it was originally built in 1870. The Lighthouse was built on screw piles which left an opening below the structure and inspired its nickname “Bug” Light, because when the rocks were covered at high tide, the Lighthouse looked like a giant water bug.
The area is loaded with a rock strewn bottom, some sandy areas, deep to shallow water and humps and drops all over the place. There is so much bait life in the area, it is no wonder the action is rock solid.
Although the area offers great action on many species, this trip was all about a lot of fun with my son-in-law and grandson Andrew. So for this outing, and for all those anglers just wanting to bail fish for an entire tide, we were going to pick on sea bass, porgies and hopefully a few weakfish.
Catch ‘Em Up
Two of the three species we were looking for were going to be easy targets—sea bass and porgies, with the weakfish a tad trickier.
Depending on where you begin your drift, or anchor up, you could be in water from 10 feet to 80 feet. We found the fish quickly by drifting over various depths and structure. Our best action was anywhere from the 43, down to 21-foot depths, from the center of the main channel to the edge of Bug Light.
We decided to drift, and from the time the first clam bait hit the bottom it was non-stop action with porgies and sea bass. Most of the action was on porgies, but we found if we drifted an area where the water rose sharply, the sea bass action was a lot better. Bouncing between the depths, we had a boatload of porgies and fine-eating sea bass in no time. And, best of all, my grandson was all smiles, all day long!
As I said earlier, the weakfish were going to be a bit of a challenge but we found a few smaller ones closer to Bug Light in the shallower waters (under 14 feet). We worked the area from Long Beach Pt, to the Light, to the shoal just south of the Light. Small 007 jigs with red tubes worked well on the weakfish. Based on local reports, the weakfish bite is best on the top of the flood tide, and can produce keepers to 10-pound fish on a blend of jigs, soft plastics and sandworms.
I wanted to get more local knowledge on the weakfish bite in the area so I reached out to Craig Jobes of WeGo Fishing Bait and Tackle. Craig let me know anglers can see weakfish on both tide stages in the waters surrounding the Bug. As with most weakfish haunts around our island, early a.m. or dusk is better to ease the boat traffic. Weakfish are wimps, and like it quiet for the most part. In some areas, the turn of the tide is good but according to Craig, you can see good action mid-tide, and he said you should concentrate your efforts on any ledges you pick up on the Electronics. The last advice Craig offered was on the tackle side. He feels white or pink hi-lo rigs tipped with local fresh squid is a killer!
Gear Up And Score
From my very first weakfish caught, which was a fat 12-pound fish in the early 70s, spinning gear was my go-to rod and reel setup. There are tons of rod and reel companies out there, and all make quality gear. I like a few rods, namely the Penn Battalion II inshore and the KastKing Estuary. They are both in the same price range, with the Penn a 7 foot, 6 inch, medium light, fast, rated for 8 to 15-pound line. The similar KastKing rod of 7 feet, 6 inches is a medium, moderate fast, rated for 8 to 17. Either of these rods will give you the tip sensitivity to feel light bites, but enough backbone to turn a fish in the tide/current.
With some great bait and tackle shops in the area of the NY Stater launch ramp—WeGo Bait and Tackle (right after) or Blue Water Ventures (before) fishing this area is going to be a breeze.
The ramp is located in Southold just east of Port of Egypt Marina on Old Main Road. The ramp offers two super nice concrete ramps with dock, a kayak launch, and a fishing peir, plus ample parking. The ramp is free to NY State Residents, and accessible 24 hours per day. From the ramp, anglers have easy access to the entire area including prime fluke grounds on the north side of Shelter Island, Gardiners Bay, Noyack Bay and the south side channel of Shelter and North Haven which is a prime fall striper hot spot and of course Bug Light!
WeGo Fishing Bait and Tackle
64355 Route 25
Southold, NY 11971
Blue Water Ventures
Southold, NY 11971
Hashamomuck Marine Waterway Access Site
750 Old Main Road
Southold, NY 11971
As for reels, again, what do you want to use? How much do you want to spend? The choices are endless as Abu Garcia Revo X, Penn Battle III, KastKing Kapstan Elite Spinning Reels, Daiwa Procyon LT in size 3000 will all fit the bill along with others. The key is making sure whatever reel you decide on, the drag is super smooth. Fortunately for all anglers out there, today’s reels basically all come with solid drags.
On the line end, I want 12-pound braid with a trace of fluorocarbon in 12 to 15 pounds. This combo will allow you to cast well, use minimal weights due to less resistance and have all the sensitivity you need in the no-stretch braid.
On the porgy and sea bass, a 6-foot, 6-inch to 7-foot conventional rod rated for 10 to 20 pounds is best. The old reliable Abu Garcia 6500 C3 is one of my all-time favorite reels. The rod will enable you to use sinkers of 2 to 5 ounces easily.
With the new launch ramp, Bug Light is now easily accessed for all Long Island anglers. The ride is nice, but depending on how late you fish, you may be tied up a bit on the way home due to North Fork wineries. Make sure to stop at either of the local shops in the area to grab the necessary essentials to tackle Bug Light.