What a wonderful month June is. It’s the month in which I got married, it’s the start of summer and most important (don’t tell my wife) it’s the month that tuna will reappear on our mid-shore grounds. This month offers so many choices. With the exception of blackfish and flounder, all species are in season.
Black seabass opens on June 23rd. It’s a 3 fish bag limit at 15 inches. By far this is my favorite fish to eat. I’m excited to see if all of the rubble that was dumped from the Tappan Zee Bridge has started to attract life out on our reefs along the south shore. If you want to weed out the small seabass don’t use natural baits (squid or clams). I like to use a diamond jig. Yep, the same type of diamond jig that I use for striped bass. However, I fish it different than the way I use it for striped bass. Once you hit the bottom just raise the rod tip up to the sky and then drop the rod tip back down until you feel the jig hit the bottom. This steady motion will have you limited out in no time. Besides being very effective it’s a nice clean way to fish. If you have ever used clam I’m sure you understand, especially in the hot sun.
June is a month that the fluke finally arrive in good numbers. On top of that, water temperatures are conducive for fluke to feed aggressively. This is a good time to head out in the ocean and fish around structure. Wrecks, reefs and drop offs along the ocean floor will hold a lot of fluke. Some of the same spots where you are targeting seabass will also hold big fluke. When it comes to natural baits it’s hard to beat a squid strip/spearing combo. My largest fluke (11.25 pounds) that I have ever caught fell to a squid/spearing combo. If you prefer not to use natural bait then a bucktail and some gulp are hard to beat. Fluke of all sizes will be found together in a school. So if you are catching shorts you may not want to leave. Those fish are likely holding in a spot because there is something they are feeding on. You know the old saying “don’t leave fish to find fish.”
June is Long Island’s biggest month for shark tournaments. If you boat along the south shore from Staten Island to Montauk you can participate in several shark tournaments. The granddaddy of them all takes place at Star Island Yacht Club in Montauk. Last year over $500,000 in cash and prizes was awarded. This year once again there was a change to mako regulations. You are now able to harvest a 71 inch or above male mako. Females still need to be 83 inches. There is no need to run deep to find these toothy critters. If water temperatures are ideal (mid 60s) you can usually find plenty of action 15-20 miles out. I usually use bluefish filets as my go to bait. I like to use those big ocean blues. A live one can’t be beat but it’s not the easiest thing to use. You will need to make sure the bluefish doesn’t tangle your other lines. Don’t forget you need to use non stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks while sharking. Bring the kids and newbies, seeing sharks outside of an aquarium is a pretty awesome sight.
If you are looking for bass it’s time to fish the bunker pods on the outside. If history once again repeats itself big bass will be following bunker pods from west to east. Most people fish these pods with the use of a weighted treble hook. A lot of hook ups will occur on the backside of the bunker pods as you drift away. Be patient, I usually drift about 50-100 yards behind the pod until I motor up and do the drift over, snagging a new bunker. It’s a very effective way to catch bass however it’s a very destructive way. The reason for the destruction is a lot of times bass will swallow a snagged bunker causing the bass to become gut hooked. If you have your one keeper please keep in mind striped bass stocks are in decline. It’s best to snag a bunker, reel it in and place it on a different rod that has a circle hook on it. There is no need to kill a bass that you must release. Keep in mind you are allowed one fish at 28 inches and above.
Here come the tuna. To be honest, before June even starts tuna will have already hit the docks. However, the month of June typically ushers in a great bluefin tuna bite that can take place anywhere from 20 to 60 miles out. These fish will range from 30 pounds and up. Last year we had a great bite with fish in the 100 to 200 pound range. When it comes to bluefin tuna I’m not overly concerned with water color or temperatures. They can be found in blue and green water. They can also tolerate a wide range of temperatures. So, what it comes down to is finding “life.” Whales, dolphins and birds are usually a sure sign of bait. Find the mammals and birds and you are likely to find the tuna. When you find the tuna there will be a good chance that they will be gorging on sand eels. So make sure you match the hatch if you plan on jigging/popping for these fish. That means you will need something that imitates a sand eel. On my boat, I carry a bunch of Hogy harness jigs and RonZ lures. Casting either one into a feeding school of bluefin tuna will get you a bite. Places like the Coimbra, Bacardi and the Chicken Canyon have historically held tuna. If you plan on trolling pick yourself up a couple of wide-tracker bars. These bars are a game changer. I like purple and pink. You don’t have to fish them from outriggers. In fact, I fish mine from rod holders that are just forward of my console. Along with wide-tracker bars I also troll several Joe Shute lures rigged with ballyhoo, regular spreader bars, daisy chains and cedar plugs.
Don’t forget you need a Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit if you plan on fishing for tuna, sharks, swordfish or billfish. If you wish to shark fish you will also need a shark endorsement. This endorsement is received after a video and a quiz is completed. All information can be found at www.hmspermits.noaa.gov.