The last schools of stripers have migrated past our shores, blackfish season is done on the North Shore and there is little life left on the South Shore where Saturday is your last shot at tog. So is that any excuse to stop fishing for the next three months? Not if you don’t want to. I know – it’s cold and it’s windy – but not every day. And with the high tech clothing available today you can remain surprisingly comfortable in some pretty extreme weather.

If you are into the bottom scene, porgies and sea bass have moved off to the deep but you still have the rest of the month to target them before the seasons closes if you board one of a handful of open boats making offshore wreck trips. We will have to wait and see if a cod run develops this winter, but is there anything better than fresh cod fillets in January and February?

On the lighter side, we are blessed to have Connetquot River State Park Preserve smack in the middle of Long Island, and while I believe the trout fishing is not what it once was (world class), it’s pretty darned good again thanks to the efforts of a lot of people. And if you are new to the fly fishing game, there is no better place to get started. The park is open year round but closed on Mondays, and if you have never wandered its paths, you are missing out on a great outdoor experience right on our doorstep. There aren’t too many places where you can have a reasonable expectation of connecting with trout up to 4 and 5 pounds in this part of the country. To book a 4-hour session or for more details, call 631-581-1005.

If you want to stick to your spinning rod and shy away from the $25 fee to experience the Connetquot, a number of local lakes and ponds that received fall stockings are worth exploring. Places like Massapequa Reservoir and Upper Twin Pond in Wantagh, Argyle Lake in Babylon, West Lake in Patchogue and Upper Yaphank Lake receive healthy numbers of trout each fall that can provide action through the winter months.

Just a little north of the metro area are places like Kensico Reservoir where brown and lake trout can be caught through the winter providing they remain ice free. The following link will provide permit info, regulations and maps of the reservoirs should you want to explore this option. Traveling to them on weekend mornings is a breeze but I do not recommend trying it during the work week unless you enjoy sitting in traffic. http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/watershed_protection/maps.shtml

Our tidal rivers and creeks can provide some unique fishing opportunities through the winter months and into early spring. Sea run trout are a viable target in place like the Nissequogue, Connetquot and Carmans rivers. White perch prowl in many of the smaller creeks along the South Shore and on the East End, as well as in the bigger rivers. Caught on ultra-light spinning tackle, these close relatives to the striper put up a scrappy fight. They can be caught on worms, killies or grass shrimp, but small twister tails on tiny jig heads of 1/16 to 3/16 are also very effective.

A fair number of tackle shops remain open throughout the winter months and are a good source of local information for any of these winter options. If you pick your days, winter fishing can actually be quite comfortable, so get off the couch, grab a rod and explore some of the opportunities available to us during the “off season.” You just might discover a new way to help ease the wait until your favorite inshore species settle in this spring.