Long Island Sound Striper Fishing
By Manny Luftglass
What: Southwest Long Island Sound.
Species: Striped bass, fluke, flounder, weakfish, bluefish.
Public launches: Launch at Manor Haven Park.
Techniques: Fish mossbunker/menhaden, live eel for stripers.
Information: R&G Tackle (516-883-3958)
PORT WASHINGTON, N. Y. — Serious anglers inhabit the southwestern corner of Long Island Sound, and that’s because the fishing can be superb.
One of the top places around to get information from is R&G Tackle (516-883-3958) and if you can’t find Rich Tenreiro in, he’s probably out fishing, so ask for Mike instead.
Both guys know Long Island Sound quite well and in particular, the fishing that is in their backyard.
As the water cools down in this southwestern corner of Long Island Sound, stripers return in earnest.
There are several places that are particularly good in and around Port Washington.
If you have a friend who docks his boat nearby, all the better, but a fine boat launch ramp can be found close by the tackle store only a mile or two away, at Manor Haven Park.
Adequate parking is present for your vehicle and trailer.
In addition to the launch, the town of Port Washington has a dock that is only a block away from the store.
It’s not particularly well lit, but a few street lights illuminate the area adequately.
As we find ourselves in the middle of September, a wide variety of fishing becomes available.
Some of these critters will either be on the way out or in, but all are distinct possibilities.
Bluefish are the No. 1 fish targeted as September starts to wind down and October gets closer and closer.
And while fluke fishing will remain legal until the end of October, many of them will have already started the slow swim eastward, out of the Sound eventually, and off to their wintering waters.
You may have a good shot though at bigger doormats at this time. And next comes winter flounder.
We haven’t had particularly good years in our area for quite a while but they might make a comeback any year now.
What with size, bag and season limits, this protection could bring some nice flounders back to our backyard.
Let’s get back to the town dock. Mike told me that snapper bluefish are among the main attraction here but you can never tell when one of their far larger relatives, a big bluefish, will make an appearance.
Weakfish make a nice appearance in this area and they are open all year.
They must measure at least 16 inches in length to be a keeper and you are allowed up to a half-dozen in the cooler.
I saved what most anglers view as the best for last — striped bass.
The past few years have seen incredibly fine striper fishing, and Long Island Sound has had a wonderful supply of these fish each season.
Many winter over in the Connecticut rivers, and some stay right in the bays of Long Island Sound’s North Shore.
Still more may start to semi-slumber in the Sound itself if the winter is mild.
The bottom line, though, is that striped bass reign supreme in the Sound, and guys who work the waters in and around Port Washington are gearing up now for some superb fall fishing.
Mossbunker/menhaden are what most of the serious bass guys use for bait and, of course, some anglers prefer one part of the baitfish or another.
Without doubt, if you can get some live “bunker,” you have the best bait going.
And if your bunkers are too big, at least in your mind, give a whole, live one a shot at live-lining anyway.
A 20-plus-pound striped bass can gobble a full pound bunker in one swallow and be ready to eat again in a few minutes.
To fish for stripers requires either good heavy tackle or plenty of room to fight a fish.
If you are on a crowded boat and near obstructions like a pier or buoy, you have a very good chance at getting hung up and losing your trophy.
However, in open water, either by day or night, if you have the time, room and skill, nothing can beat the fun you will have while trying to deal with a lineside that thinks it can beat you and your gear up.
Striped bass enthusiasts also like to use live eels as well as whole sandworms but rarely, if ever, will anything beat live bunker.
A close second will be a chunk of fresh bunker and here again will we cause a debate to take place.
The guys who eat, sleep and drink striped bass seem to prefer using a whole bunker head, dead-sticked, on bottom, with a fish-finder rig.
An anchored boat is critical to their success and having it hang over a dropoff is another fine way to try for top results.
If you are not in a crowd, anchor up and tie a second line in from the stern. If your boat is 20 feet long, that line should be 15 feet in length.
After your boat is securely anchored, with sufficient extra line out, tie a loop knot in the main line and fasten the end of line two to it.
If any kind of tide is running at all, your boat will drop back into a flat sideways anchorage, called a “bridle,” and a whole side of the boat will face downtide.
This way, if you want to fish a half-dozen guys on the boat, each will have a good lie straight out.
Stick a chum pot overboard on the uptide side of the boat. It should be filled with frozen, ground bunker.
While stripers are your goal, a pile of bluefish could find their way to your baited hooks this way too.
Properly positioning your boat on bridle works very well if you have a combination of adequate skill and tide.
Another method is to anchor up forward in the traditional manner, instead of trying for a bridle. Have your partner fish up forward in the boat.
Truth be known, 90 percent of the fish will be caught downtide of the stern and since you are there and he isn’t, you will beat him up, big time, even though you gave him/her the best spot in the boat.
Tenreiro likes to do a lot of his striper fishing nearby in Manhasset Bay.
Nearby Little Neck Bay as well as Hempstead Harbor are also places that lots of stripers will visit, along with blues.
You will be fishing in an area that offers ease of reach from four counties in New York state.
Besides Nassau, guys from the Bronx will come here as will anglers from Westchester County along with Queens residents.
Not far away either are folks heading southwest from Connecticut.
If you see a boat that has a town in Suffolk County showing as its home base in the stern, they may be lost so just point them out east to the sea, please.