As we approach the end of May, I have one word to describe the fishing: inconsistent.
Monday night (the 15th) a buddy of mine had a stellar night, with fish to 36 inches on topwater during last night in the islands. I grinded it out Wednesday-Friday and had really slow results and lots of wind to contend with. Finally on Sunday things turned on and I had some nice fish on topwater in the skinny water. Nothing like big fish in the middle of the day. I also caught some big bluefish this week, which seems early. Surface water temps ranged from 56-60 degrees this weekend. Another friend of mine had a productive evening fishing a marsh outflow with fish at sunset from 25-30 inches. Shore based anglers still have a really good shot at big fish, and the best is yet to come. Bunker are around in the harbors, although the numbers vary greatly depending on the day and time. This is likely what’s contributing to the inconsistent fishing. The fishing in the big rivers is pretty much shutting down for the season, and you will do better focusing your efforts out front on the sound.
Other reports show the fishing to the west (Greenwich and other points west) are yielding some really big fish. A 48 pounder was reported this weekend! Fishing in the middle of the sound by 11B or 28C will yield more consistent results this time of year, as they are prime migratory points for bass. Local guides are doing well casting artificials in early morning around bunker schools out there. The bunker is thick in Hempstead harbor, and lots of big girls are being taken there. Those chunking deep water over the weekend did well, and there were lots of big bass being fileted at marinas on Sunday.
Just a quick pitch to all striper fisherman out there: only keep the bass you will eat, let the big ones go, and don’t put any in the freezer, that’s just a waste. Practice CPR (catch, photo, release) on the biggest bass (38″+) which are likely breeders. Bigger bass also have worse quality meat. These fish are more valuable as a gamefish than they are on the table. Plus I think you will find it really rewarding to revive a big striped bass and watch it swim away. They’re beautiful creatures that grow slowly and travel distances. Keep in mind that a 28 inch bass is on average 6 years old. That’s a long time to end up on your dinner plate for one meal (or in your freezer.)
While the fishing is good now, and you have a shot at a real monster, the best really is yet to come. In a few weeks thing should really turn on both in the shallow rips of the islands as well as the deep water behind them, and we should get a level of consistency. Tight lines all…