LI Fishing Report
Bass season opens next month. That felt really good to type. This time last year I was panicking over the Yamaha motor shortage. I ended up going with the new 350hp Suzuki’s. I certainly don’t have any complaints after putting nearly 400 hassle free hours on the engines last year. So instead of pacing around the living room stressing over the engines, I’m already pumped for the boat to be splashed in a couple of weeks. I’m so excited I decided to already mention tuna in my monthly column. Let’s talk about spring time striped bass… When bass begin to show up in late April it seems like they invade the bays in the cover of darkness. They come in searching for adult bunker. The adult bunker enter the bay and try to head for the many small rivers and canals along the south shore. Don’t be afraid to go into these places and find the bass feeding on the bunker. It is very difficult to “snag and drop” bunker while bass fishing in shallow areas. A lot of times the bunker that you snagged with your treble hook ends up quickly sinking to the muck filled bottom. Once that happens you don’t stand much of a chance hooking up with a striped bass. So when I chase bass into shallow rivers and canals I don’t bother with trying to use live bunker. I have two go to lures. When I want to target bass that I’m marking towards the bottom I will use a 6 inch Tsunami Swim Shad. I like pearl color. The other go to lure is a Danny plug. This is a surface plug that needs to be worked slowly. The action of this lure is almost irresistible to nearby hungry bass especially if you fish it in low light conditions. To be honest I don’t start looking for bass on the outside until the bay water really begins to warm up. As temperatures rise in the bay, bass will begin to leave the warm bay for the cooler water along our beaches. These fish will be heading from West to East. This is the time that you want to be out front fishing those big pods. Last year I got on them just east of Fire Island Inlet. As the days went by I was able to follow these fish all the way to Shinnecock Inlet.
Let’s talk bluefish… It’s amazing how many people turn their nose up to catching bluefish. I happen to be very lucky to befriend an older gentleman on my canal that loves to catch these yellow eyed demons. Despite my canal buddy Bob being in his mid-70’s he often out fishes me. For the most part, we use poppers with single hooks on them. Whether it’s raining or the sun is shining you will find us somewhere in the Great South Bay hooting and howling as we watch big spring time bluefish smash our poppers. There are plenty of days that we will run two trips. The bite really heats up at first light, then again right before it gets dark. You may not see signs of bluefish but that doesn’t mean they aren’t there. Don’t be afraid to get in 3 or 4 feet of water and cast your lures in all directions. If there are bluefish around I promise you are going to find out real quick. We once came across something that I had never seen before. We came across acres of bluefish tailing in shallow water. There were 100’s of them. These were big double digit fish. The only way to hook up was to drag the popper directly across its path. If your cast landed behind them they just kept on swimming. So get ready because these fish will be here in late April-early May.
Let’s talk tuna lures… It’s hard to believe that tuna season is only about three months away. Bluefin tuna usually begin to show up around Father’s day. There are two lures that you must have. One is for trolling and the other is for casting. Last year I had great success using a fairly new product. It’s a new twist on an old idea. A few people took a spreader bar and added a “rudder” to it. These new bars are referred to as directional bars or wide trackers. Because of the rudder on these bars, it allows you to fish them in clean water. Keep in mind that based on the rudders direction it will dictate which side of the boat you need to fish it on. I purchased one for each side of the boat. Not to sound overdramatic but these bars are a game changer. We caught half of our tuna last year on these bars. If you don’t have outriggers these bars are a great way to increase the size of your spread. I actually fish these bars forward of my console. I went from a seven rod spread to a nine rod spread. That’s a lot of fake bait being dragged behind my boat. When it comes to feeding tuna on top I don’t leave the dock without something that mimics a sand eel. On my boat, you will find three very popular and effective sand eel type lures. Hogy Harness Jigs, RonZ’s and Lunker City Slug-Gos. I have talked about it many times before. It’s very important to match the hatch. Trust me, I have thrown poppers into a tuna feeding frenzy in which the tuna show zero interest because they are feeding on sand eels. Once I switched out the popper for a fake sand eel it was game on! If your boat is in the water during March I would use this time to fill up the bait freezer if the weather permits it. If you target bass, bluefish, tuna, mahi or sharks March is a great time to head out and look for herring and mackerel. All of the fish I mentioned can be caught using herring and mackerel chunks. When I shark fish I use whole mackerel on my hooks. All that is needed are a couple of mackerel rigs or Sibiki rigs. Along with filling your bait freezer, you may enjoy eating them as well. Besides herring and mackerel if you have the weather you may be able to put together a decent catch of cod, porgies and ling. If you happen to catch a few ling make sure you get them on ice quickly. The longer they sit in a water filled bucket the mushier their filets will become. As always check out Fishgaak.com for in season honest fishing reports from the Great South Bay to the northeast canyons and everything in between.