It’s was hurry up and stop for fluke fishermen this week. Opening day, new regulations and rumors of a ton of fish close to shore already had a lot of fluke hunters oiling their skillets in anticipation of some fresh fillets on Tuesday night. Alas, Mother Nature had other ideas. What a drag.
By Wednesday I’m sure most fishermen will have made up for lost time and we’ll know after the weekend exactly how good of a season opener it is going to be. Limits should be easy to come by if the fish are in residence so I would expect the fleets off Montauk and Shinnecock to be huge over the weekend if the weather cooperates.
There are also plenty of other options for putting fish on ice now too. Weakfish have put in a bit of an early season showing already, primarily in the Peconics and even on the Gardiners Bay side of Shelter Island. As usual, little pink rubber things have been the ticket for sticking a tiderunner.
Porgy season got an early start this year too thanks to a liberalized quota, and word is there are plenty of nice pork chops in the usual haunts off Culloden and Robins Island. A healthy amount of clam chum will help get the bite going as the fish are not carpet thick quite yet, but they should be arriving in droves with each passing day now.
Keeper striped bass are also getting a little easier to come by finally, though they are still pretty scattered. The showing of good fish in early April got a lot of our hopes up that the season was going to get into full swing in a hurry but that hasn’t really happened. It being the first week of May, we’re hardly behind schedule to have a reasonable shot at a keeper fish in a lot of places but things have definitely not developed as quickly as expected. The sand beaches and bay side inlets are the best place to look for a good striper right now and small lures—bucktails, rubber shads and little swimmers—are the way to go. The fish will be right in the wash and on channel edges so don’t worry about casting too far.
What has kept our fishing in check, I believe, is once again the robust schools of bunker well to our west. For the fourth year in a row now the New York Bight is chock-full of adult bunker, whirling about in massive schools a mile or two off the beaches of the Rockaways and western Fire Island. You could hardly blame a school of striped bass for not passing them up, and the abundance of bunker has created a logjam of sorts in the bass migration. The last couple years this backup has all but robbed us of a spring fishery for the sort of quality fish—20, 30 and 40 pound fish—that we had been getting accustomed to. It’s putting a hurting on the bass too since the area where they are pausing is within easy reach of huge populations of fishermen who are taking liberal advantage of New York’s two-fish limit to take a lot of big fish out of the mix. Perhaps this is the unexpected downside to the growing bunker populations as regulations on their harvest by reduction companies.
Regardless, we’ll be getting more and better fish in our waters daily and mixed with the fluke, porgies and even a few flounder, there should be plenty of fish dinners on the table this week.
Catch ‘em up. See you out there.
Inshore Fishing Seminar
Do you love fishing? Join Captain Jerry McGrath for a FREE discussion and demonstration of catching many popular inshore fish species from striped bass to blackfish to fluke at the Hampton Bays Public Library on Wednesday, May 9, at 7 p.m. You may choose up to 4 programs when you register in person. Telephone registration began on April 30. For information about registering, contact Nancy Cariello at or (631) 728-6241 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or visit http://hbay.suffolk.lib.ny.us/index.htm.