When the weather cooperates there has been plenty of action throughout Long island. The name of the game has been warmer than normal air and water temperatures coupled with an abundance of baitfish. Bunker and sand eels have been in the bays, inlets, and all along the beach. The trick to catching striped bass on the troll is to ascertain what they are feeding on. When bunker is present, live lining, chunking, trolling mojos, and bunker spoons are the best methods. When they are on sand eels you need to scale it down. Trolling umbrella rigs (especially in red, or dark maroon). Casting thin plastics and diamond jigging are all great methods. In November there was plenty of bass in all sizes caught. The beginning of the month saw plenty of 40-50 pound fish released. As the month moved on the schoolies showed up in force. Again there were plenty of opportunities for slot fish to be kept.
I spoke with Mark McGowan from Cow Harbor Bait and Tackle. Smith town reef and the rocks by the triangle have been very productive. Best baits have been Asian and green crabs on jig heads, or blackfish rigs. Bluefish and striped bass have also been cooperating. Just about any method has been working. The bite seems to be early as the afternoon winds make the fishing conditions tuff. Sunset and nighttime should not be overlooked (when conditions allow). Porgies tailed off as the weather cooled. The false albie bite was few and far between for all of November. Squid fishing at night strengthened off the docks in the channels by Stonybrook, Huntington, Northport, Coldspring Harbor, and the Nisssequogue River.
The North Fork was awesome this fall. Large schools of bass moved in. The false albacore bite picked up toward the end of October into mid-November. Blackfishing in 15-35 feet of water was just lights out with crabs and jigheads at the beginning of the month. As the month moved on the fish pushed into deeper locations, but were still readily available.
Montauk had an incredible month as well. Paulie Bruno on the Elizabeth II reported steady catches of blackfish well into December. The Viking fleet and the Miss Montauk have been fishing the radar arch and east to Block Island for mixed bag trips. Targeting codfish, sea bass, and blackfish. The striped bass fishing off the beaches and along the rips was mostly dominated by schoolies and smaller fish. The huge bass seemed to push down towards New Jersey and large schools of smaller fish replaced them. The good news is there are still fish being caught off Cape Cod so this season is far from over! My Joyce II has been fishing off Block for great mixed bag trips of seabass and blackfish. Easily limiting out his fares. Codfish are starting to also show, and catches are expected to increase into January. Migrating bluefin tuna started making their way thru during the month. Smaller to medium fish in decent numbers. Some giants were caught during the limited open window. The Reaper out of Montauk weighed a 900-pound 112-inch bluefin. Trolling and live bait fishing was most productive.
Shinnecock was on fire this fall. Migrating bass along the beaches kept anglers from the surf and boats busy. For the most part, it has been a jib bite. The reef 1 mile south of Shinnecock has been producing good numbers of blackfish with seabass mixed in.
Moriches to Fire Island. The Captree party boats have been working hard locating and catching plenty of fish for their customers. It seems no 2 days have been alike in December. The bite has been constantly changing between morning, afternoon, and evening. The party boat fleet has been working as far east as the breach and has been spotted working Davis Park, Ocean Beach, Fire Island lighthouse, and the needle. That’s a huge distance and a good amount of fuel burned, kudos to those captains putting in the effort. Inside schoolie bass on surface plugs and black fishing along the Robert Moses Bridge columns and rip raft has been excellent. The View Stripped Bass Tournament was a huge success this fall. Mike onboard the Sasquatch took first place with a 14.8 pound slot fish. Jake on the Hot Dog weighed a 12.4 pounder for second place. Third place went to Jake on the Sister with a 10-pound bass. Surprisingly this tournament had no bluefish weighed. Many anglers complained about the huge numbers of dogfish that have been mixed in with the bass.
Offshore: The mid-shore tuna bite slowed in the middle of November. Once sea surface temperatures hit the low sixties the yellowfin moved on. Bluefin was hit or miss in the 20-fathom areas namely, Butterfish Hole, Cox Ledge, etc. Deep Dropping Swords was consistent as well. The only issue is the days are getting shorter and the weather can change on a dime. So be careful to pick your weather windows. The action is all off the edge between 1,400 and 1,700 feet of water. Billy Altiman did a fall run to the edge boating a 150-pound fish. The Capital Princess out of Freeport had a few very successful tilefish trips. Many trips boating 100+ tiles with some yellowfin mixed in. Fred Sopper had a late-month trip that yielded 3 swordfish and a nice 68-inch big eye. Joey Lamonica from Joey Rods in Oceanside took a run to the Hudson. They had a huge trip boating a dozen yellowfin and albacore, a huge big eye, a bunch of golden tiles, and a nice daytime swordfish. Other than nuisance blue sharks in the canyon and threshers harassing bunker pods the shark season has seemed to come to a close as well.
January hosting shorter days and questionable weather is always a challenge for anglers. For the true diehards chasing ghosts will be the name of the game. Bluefin tuna will migrate through as they head south. Historically they gouge themselves up by the Cape and just swim on a migratory mission past Long Island. With blinders on they are close to impossible to hook up with. However with the good amount of bait still present there should be opportunities to find feeding bluefin that will hit lures and bait. The big mystery will be what path they take. If they migrate in 100 fathoms very few people will make the trek. However, if they take the 30-fathom line or hug the beach we may get some reports of successful trips. If you go be safe.