Fishing on Long Island is one of the ageless pastimes that has created local culture and shaped our Island all the way from Montauk to Manhattan. It is always here, right under our noses. You may have wondered about the vehicles passing on the highway adorned with rods, reels, and bumper stickers reading "The End". Or it could have been the casual walk on the beach where suddenly a flurry of activity rose to the waters' surface captivating ones mind. The curiosity factor is what brings most people into a local bait and tackle shop for the first time to discover a variety of colorful lures, rods and reels of all sizes and shapes, and a vast selection of baits to choose from.
At this point for those who are beginning, the most important facts are that fishing is a lot of fun, a terrific recreation for young and old, and a great activity to share with family and friends. For those of us who have fished before, this time of year can be the most exciting of all as we think back to last year and years before, rehearsing what tactics worked best and what each week of the month had produced. The many approaches one might take can be narrowed down pretty quickly by finding out a few simple things:
- What fish are in season?
- Which are biting the best?
- What are they feeding on?
- In what areas are they being caught and why?
One of the most locally revered and sought after game fish is the Striped Bass. In the months of May and June some of the biggest Striped Bass are landed in our local waters as they enter our temperate bays and estuaries to feed. Stripers like water that is less than 70 degrees, much like how we keep our homes to be around 68 degrees. When water temperature rises in summer months, they leave the shallows and head into deeper parts of the bay where cooler ocean water will flow through as the tide turns throughout the day.
Feeding on bait fish that have come into our bays to spawn, Striped Bass will strike at soft plastic baits that resemble Spearing, Killies or Bunker. Top water fishing with plugs that splash across the surface when retrieved can be very productive in the early morning, evening, or on a cloudy day. In light of trying to think like the fish you are trying to catch, using surface plugs is more effective when the sun isn't shining directly down onto the waters surface for the simple reason that Striped Bass don't like to look up into the sun any more than we do on a bright day.
Fishing with bigger bait like Bunker can be a less active approach as the effort is to relax and patiently wait for the bait to be taken, but when the bite is on, these fish may have you running to re-bait your hook faster than you might think. The size of these fish can range from a keeper 28" fish weighing in around 10 pounds, all the way up to 40 and 50 pounds that a handful of anglers may claim each year. Those who land the biggest fish of the season often have learned to understand the patterns and behaviors of the Striped Bass to the point of a symbiotic relationship.
With that being said, beginners luck seems to hold its weight in fish each year as well. With these fundamentals covered and a few tips from your local bait and tackle shop, a day by the water can lead to fishing success. A successful day of fishing often leads to a memorable dinner with family and friends as the very freshest Striped Bass is served, celebrating the days catch as Long Islanders have been doing for centuries.