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LI Fishing Report

The fall run has not disappointed. Striper fishing is steady and improving, albies abound, along with some gator blues in the mix. When weather windows allow, tuna are anywhere from 5 to 150 miles off our shores, the sea bass bag limit has ticked up and, in a few weeks, the togzillas will be coming over the rail.
The abundance of offshore sand eels that fueled one of the best yellow fin bites in years have made way closer to shore to the applause of inshore anglers. Montauk is still living up to her moniker as the mecca. If you haven’t gotten out there to fish the time is now. Blitzes of albies and school size bass to cast at by fly or spin popped up consistently through the end of September and have continued to date. With rapidly cooling waters they will be gone by month’s end. Larger migrating bass are making for a great diamond jig bite as well in the rips and over hard structure.

Bottom fishing throughout the region remains solid. In terms of seabass, cod, porgies, and ling along with some hake, the reefs and pieces have been producing well. Some phenomenal yet sporadic fluke fishing continues as we get into the bottom of the 9th for flattie season.
The highlight of October for many anglers is the start of blackfish season. October 11th for the sound, 15th everywhere else. Recently while casting off the jetty on the east side of Shinnecock Inlet, I crossed paths with some spear fishermen and not by hooking them. Like other pre-season reports I’ve gotten as far west as Manhattan, there are plenty of keepers to target. Expect the better known and easily accessible spots to get fished out the first week or so of the season and in need of replenishing while other spots are worked. Don’t ignore shallow water spots. My personal best at 17.1 pounds was taken in just 8 feet of water in the western sound ten years ago.
While not always feasible in deeper ocean spots, I’m a huge fan of using jigs. The thrill of victory and agony of defeat often boils down to going as light as possible with gear without going too light. I’ve underestimated the chafe of rocks on leaders that led to heartbreak many times, and quite a few times limited out because of dialing down leader and line strength. The frustration of losing rigs is all part of the game. For the purists that prefer braid to a 3-way swivel, don’t waste leader material or rigs on your sinker loop. Something that will easily break off your sinker on a nasty snag and save the rest of the setup will save time, money, and peace of mind. I can feel the peck peck peck and fighting the urge to swing on a fish as I’m writing this.
One of my favorite parts of this month are being able to target multiple species on one trip. I get a bit obsessed with stripers off the beach, and the shores of the back bays along with run and gun chasing blitzes. Last year, thanks to a local buddy with a lifetime of local knowledge we would dedicate slack tide to dropping green and Asian crabs and getting a few tog in the box. Our signal to pivot to bass fishing would be signaled by our anchor slipping as the tide would build. It’s no secret that small blackfish are striper candy and typically we did well in the same area with diamond jigs and bucktails. West of Jones Inlet to Breezy provides and abundance of opportunities to target tog and bass. I gravitate more to artificials for bass fishing. Trolling spoons is really effective during the day, and with the integration of flutter spoons the last few seasons there’s no reason to have to have the Midas touch on the throttle and beefed-up gear if trolling isn’t your thing.
Playing the weather never seems more in play than this time of year. Newly created post storm bars outside south shore inlets and off the beach are havens for our migrating striped friends. Contending with waves, wind and tides can be tricky and no fish is worth compromising safety. But when it lines up right, casting a dressed bucktail or paddle tail into white water is in my top few things of why the fall is the best time to be on the water.
Catch ‘em up!