Western Sound Fishing Report: Sept. 2014

The summer is coming to an end, vacations are over, school has started; but September is my favorite month of the year. The water and air temps are still warm, the crowds have diminished but some of the best fishing of the year is coming our way. Fluke, Porgies, “gorilla” Bluefish, False Albacore and Bonito will still be in our area with the Blackfish season a few weeks away!

Live lining Snappers and Peanut Bunkers for Fluke can be quite productive at this time of the year and that means “Doormats”! Catch some snappers before leaving the dock; a Sabiki rig will make it easy to get what you need. A small cast net thrown over a school of peanut bunker should give you plenty to fish with, put them in your live well and head for your favorite Fluke spot. Tackle is the same as usual, light spinning outfits with twenty to thirty pound braided line with four feet of thirty pound mono at the end to make terminal tackle connections easier. I like to keep it simple, make a dropper loop a few inches above your sinker and attach three feet of thirty pound Fluorocarbon leader with a 4/0 Gamakatsu Octopus hook. Hook your bait through the bottom lip and out the top so it can swim naturally. You can also use a small bait bridle made by the Ultimate Bait Bridle Company, they have really increased my hook up ratio this season; they can be found at your local tackle shop or ordered online. Make sure you have a good net, it will be necessary to land any big Fluke you hook!

Porgy fishing is hot this time of the year and you are allowed to keep more. Remember to bring frozen Clam logs for chum, it makes a big difference. Fresh Clam for bait will work great; make sure each piece has a little belly attached as the bigger Porgies love it. The Porgy gives a great fight and are also great table fare. I especially love them cooked whole on the Grill; with garlic, fresh Oregano, Olive oil and Lemon.

Find the Bunker schools and you’ll find some big Bluefish under them. Throw Bunker chunks near the school or throw swimming plugs and hang on, these fish put up a great fight, just remember to use a wire leader or you will lose a lot of gear. Bluefish have very sharp teeth and can take a finger if you’re not careful. If you want to keep some to eat they must be bled, iced immediately and eaten that night to enjoy them the most.

Light tackle and Fly fisherman will be excited to find False Albacore and Bonito in our local waters as they are a real challenge to catch! They are part of the Tuna family and fight like their bigger cousins! Light spinning outfits with Fluorocarbon leaders attached to small “Deadly Dick” lures work very well when retrieved quickly for either the False Albacore or Bonito. Just make sure the drag on your reel is smooth and not too tight because it will be tested with these fish. Fly fisherman should use a small clouser retrieved very quickly to get in on this bite, it’s the ultimate challenge for a fly fisherman in our waters. A good supply of Peanut Bunker in your live well can also help turn these fish on; throw a few dozen of the live peanuts in the water behind your boat and watch these fish erupt under “your school “and cast in to them. False Albacore are not great table fare, but Bonito that are bled out and iced immediately are great!

The Blackfish season starts on October 5 in New York and is some of the best fishing the Western Sound has to offer. Blackfish also known as Tautog is the hardest fish to catch, give the best fight and taste incredible! These fish like rocks, wrecks or any sticky structure that are numerous in our area. They feed on Green, Hermit, White and Asian Crabs, which are easy to catch in crab traps or bought in your local tackle shops. In our area I prefer to use the Asian crab, with the Green Crab a close second. When buying a trap, get one with a small mesh so the Asian crabs will not escape. Bait your trap with the rack of a fish you have filleted, Bluefish work well because they are very oily.

Drop your trap near your dock or rocks, and overnight you should have plenty of bait. Early in the season these fish are usually found in shallow water and move deeper as the water temperature drops. I like fishing with a six and a half foot medium heavy spinning rod, my reel loaded with braided line with a three foot length of forty pound Fluorocarbon tied to a Tidal Tails Blackfish Jig. These jigs were developed by John Knight of Hudson Park Bait & Tackle in New Rochelle and have caught many huge Blackfish over the years. They can be bought by going to John’s website and in most tackle shops, order now for the season so you’re not caught short. Once you’re ready to fish, look for rocky spots in ten to twenty-five feet and fish the drop-offs, you must be in the right spot and not swinging around, double anchoring is the norm for successful Black fishing. Once you’re anchored, use the lightest jig you can bait with a crab; make sure you crack the top shell of the crab or take it off completely, place your hook in a leg socket and out another with the hook exposed. Drop to the bottom; bounce a few times than hold your jig still. DO NOT attempt to hook the fish on the little bites you will feel, wait until the tip of your rod starts to bend then set the hook HARD! This technique works well until the fish move deep and then you will need to switch back to conventional gear.

There are endless spots in our area to target Blackfish, always be on the lookout for new structure, it could hold that ten pound Blackfish you’ve been dreaming about.