It’s mid August, and we’re in late summer mode. Weather wise, we had a really hot stretch a few weeks back, and it’s sort of stabilized. The ‘spring run’ ran pretty late this year into mid to late July. Bunker schools getting whacked and fish being really aggressive. That has subsided for now though. It doesn’t meant there aren’t fish to be caught, you just have to modify your tactics. There’s a few things you can do. You can wake up early and fish sunrise when the water is coolest, and plug the shoreline and islands, throwing anything from flies to topwater to jig/soft plastic combos. At the very least you should find schoolies, small annoying blues, and maybe even big blues. We had a stretch of big blues (like 15 pounds and heavier even) in the middle of the sound since late July/early august, ‘tailing’ around on calm hot days, and if you throw a plug in front of their nose they would whack it. Sight casting to these bruisers was really, really fun. Some say they’re digesting food. I observed some groups of 2 fish swimming in circles together; hard not to assume they were mating but I don’t pretend to be a fish biologist. Blues of the same size can be found eating small bait in the middle of the sound this past week, really aggressively. They were pretty much eating anything you would throw at them. A lure With single hook is recommended for ease of the release and health of the fish (as well as your hands). Another tactic you can do is throw swimming plugs (think Bombers, SP Minnows, Yo Zuri mag darters) at night amongst the same shoreline / island shallow structure. Things can really turn on at night. Keeper bass can be caught all summer this way. It’s an old school technique and it works. You can always Chunk morning or night too. Shallow or deep. You can also drift sandworms over structure, with a long 6 ft leader. This is another old school really productive technique that’s fallen by the wayside amongst fishing circles. Or you can skip fishing for bass and bottomfish. Fluke are in deeper water (50+ feet), and there’s less of them, but bigger ones. Porgies are always abundant and are tasty. And keeper sea bass are generally on deeper wrecks. Or, you can give up on local fishing and go to montauk / the Race for generally better fishing. Tight lines
Well the water is warming up finally, although it’s still a good bit behind average (hovering about 64 compared to July avg. of 69). The amount of bunker around is starting to get to a normal level for this time of year: They’re plentiful behind the islands. We have had some good bites on these bunker schools the last few weeks. All the way out in the middle of the sound, usually around sunset, or an hour beforehand. The bite on artificials in the islands has been spotty for me, but there’s been a few good days, and some nice keeper size bass inside have been taken. When it’s on, it has generally been a visual sight fishing bite for me. And the sand eel thing has wound down unfortunately. Guys west of us in Greenwich to Pelham and the New York Bight are still catching quality fish, and so are we in the eastern part of the county. I’m hopeful for this summer, I think we may have a mid to late summer strong bite with lower water temps and (finally) good big bait presence. When It gets really hot the bunker will start to move into the islands and eventually the rivers I believe, after their spawning rituals. This is going to get the bass really fired up, and give them an opportunity to ambush in the local rips. Get out there and see for yourself. Let me know how you’re doing, and tight lines !
I like to tell is how it is on this blog. With the nature of social media these days and the ‘sharing/liking/upvoting’ culture, good news tends to get shared/posted more often than bad. And fisherman tend to share more pictures of fish than of sunsets for a reason.
That said, this has been a slow start to the season, at least for me and across the board with guys in my ‘fishing network’ locally. The worst I’ve personally had in my last 7 years at least. Inconsistent, and the usual quality stripers, I’m talking 30+ inches, have been really hard to come by. The little guys are also in less numbers, and less spread out than usual. My usual spots that are generally producing two weeks ago, are for the most part dead. Some folks attribute water temperature, others point to the heavy rain this year. My sister works at a farm, and she tells me this is the most rain we’ve had in 5 years, and also one of the warmest. Generally colder temps bring drier air, which means less moisture in the soil and in the trees and plants. This winter was warmer and wetter, meaning more freshwater in the soil, trees, and also the water bodies from ponds, lakes, tributaries, streams, larger rivers that flow to the sound, and of course the sound itself. For a farm, this really hurts their crops by over-saturating them. I think in the sound its hurt our fishing by infusing more brackish, stained, coffee-colored water. Water clarity has been pretty poor in the early season spots, surprisingly clear in open water behind the islands. And we are 2-4 degrees behind average temps for this time; not a huge margin, but not insignificant either. To add to all that not-so-great news, there’s also a noticeable decrease in the amount of bunker/pogies/menhaden this year.
But I’m not here writing to tell you to hang up your rod and reel and take up golf. It’s not all doom and gloom. We have a unusual arrival this year, sand eels. The last time I can remember seeing them in numbers was 2011. This is triggering an open-water bite that feels like fall fishing. Terns diving, small fish on the surface and some nicer ones lower in the water column. And a good fluke bite!
The fishing in general, and weather, is looking up big time. I’ve had my best outings over the last week. Wind is laying down and sun is coming out. They’ve had a good bite in North jersey/new York Bight, and guys are still catching big fish way upriver in the Hudson. This means a lot of the fish have not left their spawning grounds or wintering grounds. There have also been fish up to 40-50 pounds caught in the western sound, off Fairfield County. Jamaica Bay has had a killer run of big bluefish. So we’re probably just a few weeks behind schedule and dealing with murky water. If I could offer any advice, it would be to find clean water, keep your eyes and ears open for visible signs like bait and birds, and don’t be afraid to fish unusual, lower tides when the water isn’t running as fast and is cleaner. Get out there and find out for yourself. And send me a report telling me how you’re doing at firstname.lastname@example.org . Tight lines Sheeple.