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LI Fishing Report

All is right and good in the world again with fishing being part of my daily routine. Just to clarify though there’s a lot of baseball practices for two teams my son plays on. I have a 7ft spinning rod matched with a Van Staal VR50 with 20-pound braid, and a downsized spring surf bag with mostly jig heads and soft plastics in the truck at all times. One of my favorite parts of early spring fishing the past few seasons is scouting large marshy, fishy areas with an abundance of creeks and estuaries northeast of Moriches Inlet. Even when I don’t catch, the insight on what baits are around is priceless. So many birds pecking away at small crabs and spearing and flying overhead. So many small baits swimming in gin clear shallow water. The expectations for size in April are low for most of the month. It’s a month of changing the mindset from off season to go time, to really be paying attention to what’s going on around typical structure and discover new ones.
There are never enough spots on firm ground to fish but enough to make do. What always surprises me in April is how many 12–23-foot skiffs and center consoles are still in shrink wrap, many of them that have a trolling motor. I get it with kids’ sports schedules and that I get to live year-round where the population come Memorial Day doubles. To be able to set up on the point of a marshy island that’s the perfect ambush point for bass to pick off baits the outgoing tide is pulling out is a slice of heaven. When I get the nod from a buddy for that to come together a 6-foot fast action spinning rod with 2500 or 3000 reel spooled with 15-pound braid is the perfect weapon.

The bunker have been around to the west and in Raritan Bay for anglers making the run over. Outgoing tide has produced more fish than incoming. Yet, these are the first of the hungry migrators so don’t let a tide stop you from heading out.
The typical spots to throw the cast net for them can be great one day and empty the next so if heading out have a backup arsenal of artificials if you’re unable to get your hands on fresh dead ones. Friendly reminder that the regulation remains the same this year that when using live or dead bait while targeting base you need to use a circle hook. Not a regulation but makes life easier for landing the fish and the fish itself is having a single tail hook on plugs instead of a treble. My go to spring plugs for fishing ocean bunker pods are docs, large pencil poppers, flutter spoons, and large soft plastics such as No Live Bait Needed 5- or 8-inch paddle tails on 1–3-ounce jig heads depending on the current.
Further east in my neck of the woods, as they do every year, adult bunker are in the back bays enjoying themselves without a predator in sight for the last few weeks. There have been some schoolies and in the back bays at outgoing on bright sunny days. That action will only get better from as we get further into April. An early new moon on April 8 should set the stage for some real solid fishing. The full moon aptly named the Worm Moon, at the end of last month marks all sorts of smaller baits starting to move throughout the bays, creeks and estuaries across the island. Bright clear sunny days will warm the dark bottom of shallow waters providing welcomed higher water temps to both resident and migrating bass. Outgoing tide by far is the better tide when fishing the flats and shallows as that bait is pulled out to lurking bass ready to ambush.
Weakfish are also a welcomed spring species from Jamaica to the Peconics. If that worm moon lives up to its name, worms are a perfect bait to use when targeting these unicorns. I prefer artificials and while I’ve caught on white and yellow bucktails and soft plastics, pink is the preferred color that has consistently caught. Focus on areas with moving water as slack tide hardly ever takes credit for a weakfish catch.
I wish I could talk about the flounder bite next, but sadly I just have to rely on the stories of a fishery that disappeared from our waters years ago. Maybe it will come back. As recently as 2017 most people thought weakfish were gone for good. It was a pleasant surprise to see them appear again and at times in good numbers.
Careful with those soft plastics…. The big spawning gator blues could show up a bit earlier than their scheduled May appearance!
Want to wish everyone a great season, I’m so excited it’s finally starting!