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Angling

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Experts have blamed nitrogen runoff for problems of hypoxia and dangerous algae blooms in coastal waters. File photo from Angelo Peluso

By Angelo Peluso

September marks the beginning of meteorological autumn. It is a time when we bid farewell to summer and embrace the magnificence of the fall migratory run of local game fish.

This is a time eagerly awaited by all Long Island anglers, as amassing baitfish and pursuing game fish move into high gear. The stage has been set all around Long Island for the grandest spectacle of the fishing season. Although no place is more representative of this activity than the fabled waters of Montauk Point and the beaches of the South Shore, the open Long Island Sound and the beaches of the North Shore can give anglers a solid opportunity at some terrific fall action.

While North Shore fishing may not be as frenzied, concentrated or sustained as it is at the end of Long Island, there is, nonetheless, some fine fishing to be had for those who put in the time and are willing to move about to find fish.

Angler Craig Scail with a fine brace of local, Long Island Sound black sea bass. Photo from Angelo Peluso
Angler Craig Scail with a fine brace of local, Long Island Sound black sea bass. Photo from Angelo Peluso

A decade or so ago the North Shore of Long Island would boast respectable spring and early fall runs of striped bass. Conditions related to cyclical weather changes, baitfish movement and the migratory patterns and behaviors of game fish, most notably striped bass, have somewhat altered the landscape of the fall run in the area of the central Long Island Sound. It seems as if the last half dozen years or so have brought stronger spring fishing than prolonged fall runs, especially those runs that occur close to the beaches, whereas the fall run would often last a few weeks. Now, some of the best late-season inshore bass fishing can often be measured in days, not weeks. The exception to this is that whatever bass remain in the area congregate off many of the deep-water drop-offs to bulk up on bait that follows the same path. At this time of year, diamond jigging is king.

But all is not lost to the shore-bound angler.

One of the keys to scoring bass and big blues from September to the end of the season is mobility. A body in motion should stay in motion until such time as fish are located. Too many anglers spend too much time remaining stagnant, waiting for the fish. There are many time-tested spots where the probabilities are high that fish will move in as certain phases of the tide or current movement, so spend time fishing those locations.

Obviously, these situations vary with the seasons, but time on the water and consistent previous successes are good barometers of future potential. That said, from September until the end of the season, any of the central Long Island beaches from those in and around the Huntington Harbor/Eatons Neck area, out to the beaches of the North Fork, can turn on any given day with bass headed east and close to the edges of the surf line. Many of the bass that linger west of Huntington in Nassau County tend to move west and back out into the New York Bight, but those movements are not always easy to predict as they are on the South Shore, where fish move east to west. Bass and some large blues can be seen in the Sound moving both east and west, so who knows how the fish decide to leave the Sound.

That movement, though, argues for the angler to remain in motion and to keep tabs on the whereabouts of fall bait. While not all parts of the Sound enjoy prolific concentrations of bait throughout the season, the cooling down of water temperatures and the shortened hours of daylight in September will stimulate various baits to amass into large rafts. Sand eels, spearing, bay anchovies and white bait like finger mullet will motivate the bass and blues. Most bait will be found along deep-water drops, moving out from the harbors or cruising the surf line. All scenarios present productive fishing opportunities.

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Sea bass will continue to remain on the North Shore in August. Above, Angelo Peluso and Adrian Mason show off their catches. Photo from Angelo Peluso

By Angelo Peluso

As we move into late summer, fishing has hit peak strides throughout the entirety of the Long Island Sound. Despite the sweltering heat that often accompanies August, the eighth month of the year contains National Smile Week, and if you play your fishing cards right you just might smile broadly while finding some of the best local fish of the year.

August brings many surprises along the North Shore of Long Island. Many anglers take time off during the often scorching days of late summer, relenting to the call of the beach and BBQs. But succumbing to the myth of the dog days is a big mistake. August brings with it numerous and exciting fishing opportunities. The cool depths of the Long Island Sound and abundant bait can keep fishing vibrant and at times hectic. This is especially true of the central regions of the Sound where, striped bass, bluefish, fluke, porgies and seas bass can be caught with a high degree of regularity.

Water quality in the Long Island Sound is at its finest along the central portions of the North Shore. The month, named in honor of Augustus Caesar, also brings with it the strong possibility of visitations by some highly anticipated pelagic species: Atlantic bonito, little tunny and Spanish mackerel. With conducive bait and water conditions, those highly coveted light tackle gamesters should show in numbers sufficient to warrant expanded time on the water. All significant recreational species are in season and several ocean-roaming species visit local waters.

Summer flounder, also called fluke, have been in abundance and will continue to be caught through to the season’s end on Sept.  21.  Although it appears at times that anglers need to weed through dozens upon dozens of undersized fluke and sea robins to be rewarded with a limit of keeper summer flounder, bigger fish are still around and patience pays dividends. August usually also witnesses some of the largest striped bass catches of the season. Nighttime moon tides and drifted eels will typically relinquish some of the finer specimens of bass. While some of the largest bass will succumb to large natural baits, casting artificial lures early and late in the day will yield bass.

All the other popular summer game fish species will also continue to remain along the North Shore: bluefish, scup and sea bass. Bluefish have been prolific, but beginning in July, larger pods of marauding “choppers” began moving inshore to feast on snappers. That predation pattern should continue through August and into the fall. This is a great time to cast large top-water plugs to snag what just might be the largest bluefish of the year. Porgy, aka scup, fishing is now as hot as the weather. There are lots of these tasty scup around, but finding the jumbo porgies will take some searching in deeper water. At this time of year, smaller scup can be found well inshore and often well within reach of shore anglers fishing around jetties, rock groins, boulders and other structures. Porgies are the most democratic fish that swim in the Sound, and they can be caught by just about anyone who fishes for them. If you’d like a little different kind of fun with porgies, try feeding them small artificial baits. Scent-infused plastic lures work wonders on porgies, as do small flies. Sea bass will also present themselves this month.  To date, there have been some impressive catches of quality sea bass, and those results should continue for the remainder of the season. Deep water structure is the key to this form of bass fishing. So get out there and have a great, safe month on the water. The fish will be waiting.