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LI Fishing Report

September 24, 2020

Summer has ended and the fall is upon us. Days get shorter and the weather gets cooler. Boat traffic seems to dwindle as kids are back to school and boaters try to get ahead of winterizing their boats for the winter hibernation. The fall is one of my favorite seasons to fish. Large pelagics start to migrate to their winter homes and give us one last shot. Striped bass fishing is normally off the hook from Montauk to the Rockaways and all along the North Shore too.
As August ended and September began the mid shore tuna bite remained red hot! This summer’s bite will go down as one of the best we have seen in a long time. For anglers that were dialed in it was literally like shooting fish in a barrel. There were definitely fish located in the large fleets that formed in and around the hot spots (Triple Wrecks, Bacardi, Coimbra, and Ranger). For the anglers that didn’t fish latitude and longitude numbers, and understood the signs of actively feeding fish, they found consistent hot bites. Not fishing the fleet (especially when chunking) was the way to go. There were schools and pockets of feeding tuna all along the 30 and 40 fathom lines. Getting away from the fleet and finding your own fish was the best way to increase your odds of landing both yellowfin and bluefin.
The middle of Septembe
r we saw the false albacore invade the 30 fathom spots. These fish were trolled, hit jigs and chunks. This was great news for surfcasters and inshore fishermen because latter in the month they invaded the bait present all along the beach. Both sides of Montauk Point and into the Sound saw good action. Fly fishermen love these speedsters as they hit top water bugs hard and pound for pound put up a tremendous fight. Also, mixed in with them were smaller to mid teen bluefish. Both shores saw a decent showing in September, and I would expect them to be available throughout the month of October. Live lining peanut bunker, diamond jigs and trolling umbrella rigs are all proven methods for bagging fall bluefish.
Striped bass have started to show in numbers on both shores. Finding the feeding birds is key to finding these blitzing fish. Use binoculars and your boat's radar to locate and confirm their presence. The trick for using radar; when you visually locate the birds tune your radar and adjust the range to see how they appear on the screen. When finished for the day as your heading home, adjust your radar to show the birds. As you travel away adjust your gain and increase your range to verify the best settings and how the marks appear on your personal radar. Stripers have fallen to live bunker, mojo trolling, jigging and popping. Be sure to have a few methods in your arsenal before heading out.
In the beginning of the month smaller to midsized fish were reported on both shores. As we roll into October the larger fish will show. Be mindful that 2020 DEC regulations allow for 1 slot fish per angler between 28 and 35 inches. This means each angler is allowed 1 fish per day (not trip) that is not smaller than 28 inches or larger than 35 inches. The season closes on December 15th.

 Fluke fishing was solid in September. The number of fish was intense, however, the keeper to short ratio was huge. Many anglers reported catches of 25 to 50 fish a day with only a handful of keepers. Drifting spearing and squid strips accounted for most fish. Larger fish were caught on larger baits. Namely; whole squid, live snappers, and peanut bunker. Bucktails tipped with squid strips or fluke ribbons were also a fun way to jig up a bite. The skinny water action in 5 -10 feet of water in the bays accounted for most of the larger fish. The Hampton Lady out of Shinnecock reported many fish between 5 and 9 pounds with a few in the low teens.
Weak fishing remained strong. Light tackle jigging along channel edges as tides pushed bait around was your best bet. The Great South Bay had the best and most consistent action.
The reef fishing was very productive with seabass in September. There were plenty of annoying dogfish present as well as cocktail bluefish and sea robins. Light tackle with either hook baits or jigs was the way to go. You have to be over the structure to catch the fish! A few feet off in either direction and it’s off. Double anchoring and adjusting for tide changes or short drifting the wrecks and lumps are the best ways to stay dialed in.
Porgies have been reported all around Long Island for the entire summer and September did not disappoint. The Celtic Quest out of Port Jefferson put together some great mixed bag trips that included a ton of porgies. Many party boats to Montauk and including the South Shore have focused specifically on porgies with great success.
Mahi mahi were everywhere this month. Anything floating held these fish from the edge to the beach. Lobster pots, weather buoys and even channel head buoys held these fish. The gaffers grew into decent fish toward the end of the month. They responded well to jigging and popping. When the bite slowed using chunks and live bait to turn them back on worked well. These are fast growing and reproducing fish that can withstand the constant fishing pressure. They have saved many trips for anglers that were skunked on the tuna grounds. As we move into the fall they can and will stick around. Keep a keen eye on your chum slick if your shark fishing as they will dart in and out in water temperatures down to the mid-sixties. Keep in mind they make great shark baits too, match the hatch.
The Canyons south of Long Island had a very interesting season. Big eyes and yellowfin made an early presence as warm water eddies way to the east and another to the south came into range. September was disappointing, as this water really never came west enough to light up the Fish Tails, Dip, and Middle Grounds. The south eddy parked outside of the Hudson way in the deep and just off Tom’s Canyon. For boats with the range to get to them there were plenty of big eyes, large yellowfin and this year we saw albacore tuna. Wasn’t a lights out bite, but for the boats that put in their time there were plenty of rewards. Ocean Vue out of Captree put together some great mid shore and offshore trips throughout the month. They did great with the tuna and mahi, so well that they often turned their sights on tilefish and marlin to mix things up.  White and blue marlin fishing remained good in September, but as the water-cooled, reports of these species declined. These fish along with wahoo will be fewer and far between in October. Closer to Long Island the deep waters gave up plenty of swordfish. The Mouth of the Hudson and the Claw approximately 1,500 feet of water saw good numbers both day and night deep dropping. Belly skirted strip baits with lights worked well. There were many reports of boats having multiple hookups. The best is September was Teddy Pragger who went 4 for 5 deep dropping during the day. Using belly strip baits they found themselves constantly hooked up. Catching the fish, restarting the drift and bam, fish on.
If you have any reports, stories or pictures you would like to share, please feel free to reach out to me at amgatto@optonline.net.

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September 24, 2020

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