Freshwater fishing remained strong with yellow perch, bass, and pickerel. Pickerel reopened on May 1st. We also started to see more reports of trout becoming available as restocking programs are well underway. The main targets continue to be trout (brown and rainbow), white perch, and carp. The Connetquot River and Belmont lake are consistent producers. The season is open year-round catching trout. Bass is release only and will close in May. Fly Fishing the Connetquot River is usually best using subsurface flies. Dry flies and others have worked, but remember to keep them small, and “match the hatch”. If you do decide to explore some freshwater fishing make sure to have the proper license.
Flounder season opened on April 1st and will run for 2 months. Regulations allow 2 fish per angler 12 inches or larger. Flounder have had a tough time rebounding to past stock levels. So only take what you can eat and preserve the resource. The bays have had decent fish (Jamaica bay, Shinnecock Canal, Quogue canal, Lloyd Harbor, Little Neck Bay, and Cold Spring Harbor). Worms and chum have been the ticket. Blackfish also opened up in April. The 1st week saw a slow start, but as the water warmed things seemed to get better. Regulations for blackfish allow for 2 fish per angler with a minimum size of 16 inches.
Striped bass regulations have been finalized. Circle hooks are required when fishing with bait. Bait is defined as any marine or aquatic organism, alive or dead. This includes but is not limited to the whole, strip, or chunk baits. This does not apply to any artificial lure with bait attached. If a striped bass is caught in any unapproved methods it must be returned immediately and without unnecessary injury. The circle hooks required can not be offset they must be straight or inline. Incidental catches must also be released. Meaning if your intent is targeting a different species with a “j” hook and you incidentally catch striped bass, it must be released. Using circle hooks is believed to decrease the mortality rate of released fish. Prevents gut hooked fish. Remember just because you see a released fish swim away, doesn’t mean that it necessarily survived. Studies have shown a higher than originally thought mortality rate on fish released from “j” hooks. With a little practice, everyone can get used to and will most likely prefer circle hooks. Bass season did open in the ocean on April 15. Slot fish measuring between 28 and 35 inches are the only size you can keep.
Just like 2020 bait seems to be everywhere and this season setting up early. This is great news as it gives larger fish a reason to take up residence off the Long Island waters. Bunker started showing up in Jamaica bay and some of the shallows and back bays in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Stripped Bass started the month hard to find. NJ anglers had the first shot at them as they migrated north into the warming waters. They showed up on cue at Raritan bay. With some really large cows reported. Later in the month they also started to show in their usual spots to the east. The early arriving fish seemed to have lockjaw as they were tough to entice a strike. But as the waters warmed they responded well to chunks, live bait, and poppers.
To the North, May is always a great time to target true doormat fluke. They slide into the Green lawns area and respond to whole squid and spearing squid combos. Orient point is a great place to grab a charter or head boat to target these fish. They also have a boat ramp for trailered boats. Porgies came in early and offer a great deal of fun for anglers of all ages and experience levels.
Bluefish started showing up in limited numbers late in April. They should continue to show throughout May. Bluefish numbers have been depleted over the past few seasons. They are definitely in trouble, so remember; 3 per person per day limit. This doesn’t mean you have to take 3 per person, please only take what you need.
Midsouth shore we continue to see good catches of cod, ling, pollock, hake, and sea bass. The wrecks are starting to get crowded as more and more boats are launched for the season. Party boats sailing from Captree, Freeport, and Montauk have all been scoring well. Out of Moriches, Joe Tangel runs the King Cod an open boat 6 angler charters. He sails all year round, weather permitting. April saw strong cod fishing. He had many trips where anglers scored between 8 – 10 cod per person. They started scoring on tog as well. Mostly on green crabs. May will bring summer founder. They will show up inside Moriches. Bucktail jigging and bait drifting are always consistent methods to hook up. The boat sails at 6:00 AM and reservations are a must. Another option is Captain Joe DeVito on the Laura Lee out of Captree https://www.captree.com/. They also require a reservation as they limit the boat to 25 anglers. They have had amazing mixed bag trips. Pollock, hake, cod, sea bass, porgies, and others all mixed in. Make a reservation and watch the weather and their website for cancelations and postponements. The weather can change on a dime and they put safety and comfort first. Reef fishing for mixed bags of seabass, bluefish, and bass were well underway. May should see plenty of fluke and weakfish. Inside by fire island lighthouse, and as the waters warm the ocean fishing will heat up too.
Offshore Regulations: Don’t forget to sign up for or renew your Highly Migratory Species fishing permit. You can do this online @ https://hmspermits.noaa.gov/. This is required to fish for and retain tuna. Be mindful to check their site before trips to check for updates and closures. It’s important to log your catch post-trip as required by NMFS. If you don’t log your catch they have no way of accurately monitoring recreational fishing progress. This can lead to misinformation looking as though our stock is smaller than originally thought which in turn can prompt earlier closure and forfeiture of our quota. I am hearing that they will be monitoring social media to compare actual catches with reports. So if you’re going to post, make sure you log the report too. If you potentially may fish for sharks in 2021 make sure you add the shark endorsement. There is no additional fee, but you are required to watch a video and take a quiz regarding your knowledge of shark fishing regulations. Makos sharks must be released if they are male less than 71 inches or female lass than 83”. Males have claspers underneath. Remember if you don’t know, let it go.
There is a tremendous eddy parked just off the edge. It extends from the Hudson to the tails. I have personally spoken to a handful of boats mostly from NJ that have caught bluefin in this water. This is great news. Fingers crossed that this water keeps pushing inshore and in range of more anglers. I would expect an early season this summer if it does. The Viking fleet out of Montauk started their deep-water tilefish trips. They had immediate success getting their fares onto plenty of tasty tiles, with cod and ling mixed in.
Please remember that there has been tremendous pressure on our fishery over the years. You make a difference, practice catch and release, only keeping what you can personally eat.