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Posted By Fred Golofaro, May 25, 2020
Weakfish have been slow to start on the South Shore but Brian Spreckels got into some good yellowfin action in a Long Island Sound harbor this past week.

Bluefish finally arrived in force with good action reported from Brooklyn to Montauk and into Long Island Sound. The blues added to an already impressive inshore mixed bag of species, including stripers, porgies, fluke, blowfish, kingfish, flounder, cod and to a lesser degree, weakfish. The weaks have been slow to start although some good reports came from the western Sound this week. East winds and NOAA’s closing of the recreational giant bluefin category took the steam out of that bite by the end of last week.

On another note, it is looking like we will have an opening of for-hire boats in some form, possibly as soon as Wednesday if Long Island does indeed meet the requirements for a phase one opening.

On the East End, porgies are thick and chewing hard from Robins Island in the Peconic’s to Cherry Harbor in Gardiners Bay. With that said, scup will be this week’s East End best bet. Fluke fishing has been ranging from okay to slow depending on the location. It seems that right now, the east and west side of Shelter Island are producing the best fluking. Weakfish to 4-pounds, bluefish to the high teens and bass to 42-pounds have all been caught inside the Peconic estuary this week. If that is not enough, reports of bluefin tuna to 450 pounds have been taken southeast of Block Island. Speaking of Block Island, some nice cod and even some snowshoe flounder to 4-pounds were taken from the area this week. Shore bound anglers will be delighted to learn that the Shinnecock Canal is like an aquarium with fluke, weakfish, striped bass, bluefish, porgies, kingfish, blowfish, and sea robins all available once the locks are shut.

Along the South Shore, the two best bets for this week are looking like bottom bouncing for blowfish in Great South Bay or bluefish in Great South or Moriches bays. For the blowfish, find an impression (slightly deeper hole than a flat bottom) and chum them with clam chum. On the hook, bloodworms or clams will have you bailing jumbos in no time. For the blues, large fish to 12 pounds are roaming both bays and inlets and taking poppers and diamond jigs with tubes. There were a couple of impressive fluke of 12 and 13 pounds weighed in at Smiths Point Beach, Bait and Tackle, but most anglers are seeing shorts with some keepers to 6 pounds.

To the west, bass activity is holding steady. They are responding to clam bellies at local bridges such as the Atlantic Beach Bridge and the Wantaghs, while on the outside they are being trolled on Mojos and bunker spoons. Clam belly action at the bridges has been hot on the outgoing tide. In the back bays and marshes don’t hesitate to toss a swimming plug, popper, paddle tail or swim shad. Porgies are coming on strong, especially in Jamaica Bay. Head out there with bloodworms, sandworms or clams. Fluke are holding up their end of the bargain in the bays and back bays but be sure to work the warmer shallow waters. The summer flatties are also providing nice catches at the Wantagh and Meadowbrook bridges, and at Tobay in the State Channel.

Up on the North Shore, bass activity remains solid with no shortage of fish - just not many keepers. Bass have been chasing bunker pods and shad in the harbors. Anglers targeting buoy 9 scored bass to 30 inches. In the western Sound, slot size bass (28 to 35 inches) were plugged in Pelham Bay. Weakfish are beginning to cooperate in the back areas of the harbors and at Matinecock Point. Offer them small plastics. Short and keeper summer flatties are being caught at Cranes Neck, in Huntington and Centerport harbors, off of Crab Meadow, outside the Nissequogue River and further west in the Sound. Porgies in the 2-pound plus range are being taken at Cranes Neck, Centerport, Marshall Field, and Eatons Neck Coast Guard Station.

In the surf, lots of northeast and east winds this past week did nothing to deter the surf action as bluefish, including slammers to 18 pounds, finally showed up in force around the Island. From Brooklyn to Montauk, bluefish easily dominated the surf scene, and the first blues also appeared along the Island’s North Shore. Their late arrival had me beginning to worry that we might not see a spring run this season as that fishing the last few years has been growing shorter and less intense each season. Their return has put smiles on the faces of tackle shop owners who have seen their business crippled by the coronavirus. Stripers are still very much in the picture but getting at them was difficult at times due to the abundance of blues. There has definitely been an uptick in the number of keeper bass finding their way into the action.
Speaking of keepers, despite all of the talk and coverage of changes in striped bass and bluefish regulations prior to the season, I’m discovering many anglers are still not aware of the new regulations. So, again, we now have a slot limit for striped bass. Here in the Marine District, only fish measuring 28 to 35 inches may be kept. Less than 28 or larger than 35 they go back and we still have a one fish bag limit. The season runs from April 15 through December 15. The bag limit on bluefish has been reduced to three fish for recreational and five fish for those fishing aboard party or charter boats, and that includes snappers. There is no size limit or season for bluefish.

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