By Tom Schlichter
It’s hard to believe that summer’s almost over but September 23 marks the end date this year.
While we’ll all no doubt miss the warm waters and fun in the sun, the arrival of fall usually brings with it a big improvement in local fishing prospects.
Ushered in by freshening breezes and dropping water temperatures, September is a transition month for many inshore predator species like striped bass, bluefish, false albacore, black sea bass and even fluke, the latter still a legal catch through the end of the month. As the waters cool, baitfish rush for estuary exits including river mouths, harbor mouths and inlets. Initially, they stack up inside these exits and around serious bottom structure that can be found in route.
“Once that bait starts moving around a bit, it doesn’t take long for the predators to zero in and get excited,” notes Gaige Simon, sales manager for Freedom Boat Club’s six Long Island franchises, “August may see the dog days of summer but September brings the first hints of what’s to come later this fall. From porgies and sea bass, to fluke, bluefish, false albacore and even stripers, the action should build steadily over the next few weeks until reaching a fall crescendo sometime in October. If you are a Freedom Boat Club Member, you’re in great shape right now because you have quick and easy access to most of the better fishing getting underway.”
Indeed, Simon is on target. With Freedom Boat Clubs in Port Washington, Glen Cove, Northport, Port Jefferson, Freeport and Lindenhurst, club members have the opportunity to launch close to the action which saves time and gas while increasing the fun quotient of each trip. Members are able to choose a vessel out of any of these ports and, with nothing more than a phone call, have it ready to rock and roll by the time they get to the dock.
If you are unfamiliar with Freedom Boat Clubs, they operate a total of 16 locations within our Coastal Angler coverage area where you can join-up, be your own captain and head out on your own schedule to find the best fishing or on-the-water adventures. Become a member at one Freedom Boat Club location and you have access to the boats at all 180-plus Freedom Boat Clubs across the country – including over 150 vessels between Long Island, Connecticut and the Rhody coast alone. Freedom Boat Club has also recently opened several European locations for members to utilize at no additional cost!
Looking around the Island as we went to print, Simon identified several late summer runs that club members might want to investigate. For any of these, one of Freedoms’ Tidewater, Key West or Cobia center consoles ranging from 22 to 24 feet in length would be ideal to get to the action in short order. If you want something that drives more dry, consider choosing one of the club’s dual console models. In other words, you have the ability to match up your boat to the conditions you’ll be fishing in whether on the North Shore or South Shore.
“Right now we have some real good bites getting underway,” notes Simon. “Anglers running out of our Port Washington club can head over toward Execution Rock or the Throgs Neck Bridge where stripers are hitting bunker and swimbaits. Porgies here are plentiful there, too, with 30-foot depths right outside the harbor producing limit catches for those who are willing to put in a little time.”
Not too far away, Freedom Boat’s Glen Cove location has anglers positioned just right to head to Matinecock Point where the porgy bite is currently ferocious in 25-foot depths. Head out a little deeper and you’ll still find some keeper fluke along the ledges or work just outside the harbor if you want fast action with mostly short fluke to just get the rods bending for kids and novices. There have also been plenty of cocktail blues around the Glen Cove jetties, plus plenty of snappers caught from local docks and beaches.
The Northport location, by comparison, has tons of school blues and snappers feeding on spearing and peanut bunker right inside the harbor. Porgy action here is also about as good as it gets off nearby Cranes Neck in 25-foot depths, and few keeper fluke are still being hauled from ledges in 40- to 70-foot depths.
“I think the best fishing for our North Shore locations is out of Port Jefferson right now,” offered Simon. “There, it’s a half-hour ride to the Long Island Sound Middle Grounds. Simply anchor up in 35- to 50-foot depths near the lighthouse and you should be on stripers to 35 inches along with plenty of big blues. Just before we went to press, the first false albacore of the year showed up outside of this port as well. In fact, club member Arthur Boshnack decked on aboard our 2019, 24-foot Cobia 237 center console so that action should be coming to life real soon.”
On the South Shore, the late summer fluke action has sizzled for those sailing out of the Freeport Club location. “The Cholera Reef was on fire with the summer flatties over the last two weeks of August,” stated Simon. “Our members have been fishing in 80- to 90-foot depths about 10 miles offshore and some of the fluke there been true doormats weighing 8 to 12 pounds. There are plenty of black sea bass in that area, too, plus tons of snappers in the bay waters. Fluke and sea bass action has also been steadily building out of our Lindenhurst club.”
No doubt the flexibility of a Freedom Boat Club membership offers plenty of opportunity when it comes to fishing, but you’ll also love the hassle-free operation says Simon. “All you do is just call up and tell the staff you are coming. Your boat is ready when you arrive and you step aboard and go have fun. You don’t even have to wash down your vessel at the end of the day. It’s all the benefits of boat ownership without the hassles.”