Hempstead Harbor Anglers Club

 

   

 

Fish Facts

   
   
   
   

Click on Photo to take you to the fish facts and helpful hints

 

 

The Striped Bass is the most popular game fish on the east coast, as well as one of the best tasting. Stripers are called "rockfish" in the southern states, and can reach weights of over 60 pounds.

East coast striped bass stocks suffered serious declines in the 1980s but stringent management measures involving severe sacrifices by fishermen contributed to a major rebound. Today striper stocks have been declared fully restored. Striped bass spawn during the winter, mostly in the Hudson River and rivers feeding Chessepeak Bay. In the spring stripers move to the coastal waters and migrate to the North and East. We fish for stripers from late April to early December and we fish in many different ways. In the bay we cast rubber lures day or night during the spring, summer, and fall.

Fishing Tips:

Bay Casting:

            A lot of stripers casting rubber lures like "bass assassins" on jig heads. We do most of this fishing in the evening or at night. This fishing is usually best with light or moderate wind. Week nights and late trips are usually best because of the lighter boat traffic. The people who cast the furthest from the boat usually do the best. The bow and stern seem to do the best when we are drifting and the middle of the boat when we are anchored.

            Braided line like "Power Pro" works well for this fishing because you can cast a bit further and feel the hit better. When you feel the hit, jerk up on the rod immediately and hard to hook the bass.

Clam Chumming:

            clam chum we anchor and put a chum pot up tide, usually in the bow. The current carries the ground clam away from the boat. The stripers taste the chum and start swimming toward the boat and eat the first clam bait that they come to. The rougher the better the fishing. Depending on the strength of the wind and current, the lines and chum usually run toward the stern, making that the best place to fish. Now, often there is enough breeze to cock the boat causing the lines and chum to run a little bit off one side. Fish on this side and cast out a bit with a spinning rod to do best. For stripers never fish under the boat. Monofilament line is much better for this fishing. When you feel a bite, just start reeling.

Diamond Jigging:

            In November and December when the wind is Northwest the inshore ocean waters of Long Island are relatively calm. Peanut bunker, herring and other baitfish inhabit the 40 to 60 foot depths and the Southwest migrating schools of stripers feed on them. Spinning or conventional rods are both ok and monofilament or braided lines are fine. Just cast away from the boat and reel in slowly or jig slowly until you feel a hit, then lift up quickly to hook the fish.

 

HINT ON SNAGGING BUNKER  Snagging bunker is a great way to get bait for striped bass. And many anglers make the mistake of using and old rod with bad line to snag bunker and sooner or later their snagging bunker and catch the right fish and their gear is not ready for it.

Tackle

We always want to make sure that we put the right line, reel and rod. Use a very stout 7′ rod with 30lb braid and a 5000-8000 size spinning reel. A setup of this size has enough muscle to fight any fish that you might come across. Our preference is to use a naked treble in to 10/0 or 12/0 size. These trebles without weight are actually going to be more effective than a weighted one.  When fishing from a boat you can usually get close enough to the bunker that your going to have enough casting distance especially when using braided line.

Sometimes you might need a little extra casting distance, especially when using a smaller hook like a 10/0. What we do is keep some sodder on the boat and tightly wrap it around the shank of the hook as many times as need to get the weight we want.

The retrieve is something that many anglers get wrong. I refuse to say that there have been countless times I see angler taking wild swings to snag, that is because I see it every time. We simply cast it out let the line sink and hold it tight, once we feel a gentle tick we take the swing and were hooked up.

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Fluke, also  known as summer flounder, are easily recognizable because they are flattened from side to side, allowing them to lay flat on sandy or muddy bottom partially burying themselves while waiting for unsuspecting bait fish to come by.

During its larval stage the fluke's the right eye moves to the left side, the upper side, of the fish. This upper side can change from light brown to almost black, allowing the fish to blend in when it is lying on the bottom. The right, or lower, side is white, making the fish difficult to see from below when it is up in the water column. 

Fluke are known as voracious predators. They have sharp teeth and are adept at feeding on smaller fish. Large fluke, known as "doormats" for obvious reasons, can reach upwards of fifteen pounds but the most common size is two to four pounds.

We fish for Fluke drifting with spearing and squid. Fluke bite best when we can drift at about 1 knot. When we fish in the Sound we can fish different areas  at different parts of the tide to find the right amount of current for a good drift.

            Fluke are one of the most abundant fish in our waters. Their stocks have increased to four times what they were just 15 years ago. In spite of their abundance fluke can be a little tricky for some beginners to catch so weíve included some tips that you might find helpful.

Fishing Tips:

Basic:

         Fluke grab the bait half way between the tail and head and hold it for about 5 seconds before they try to swallow it. You should wait about 10 seconds after you feel the extra weight on your line to start reeling. The mistake many new fluke fishermen make is to lift the rod when they feel a bite. Now try to picture your line going down to the sinker and the three foot leader at nearly a right angle. When you lift the sinker two feet off the bottom the hook and bait only move a few inches, not enough to hook a fluke. This two foot lift of the rod works for sea bass, porgies, and blackfish because we fish with a twelve inch leader.

            Now you have lifted the rod two feet, experienced fishermen have learned to keep the rod up and start reeling. This hooks the fish. Almost all beginners lift the rod two feet, feel the weight of the fluke, lower the rod and then start to reel. When you are lowering the rod the hook is no longer pulled tight against the inside of flukeís boney mouth. The fluke senses something is wrong and opens his mouth. When you start reeling the bait and hook come out of his mouth.  The best way to hook a fluke especially for a beginner is to wait for that extra weight on your line, this is the fluke swimming along with your bait halfway in his mouth. After about five or ten seconds he will flip his tail a few times for the extra speed, open his mouth and swallow the bait and hook. After waiting a few seconds or feeling a few sharp tugs (the fluke flipping his tail and chewing the bait) donít move the rod, just start reeling. The constant pressure of the hook in the flukeís mouth will hook the fish almost every time. Also, if the fluke is not hooked it can still catch and eat the baited hook.

      Here are a few tips for fishing when drifting conditions arenít perfect. With a slow drift, the side of the boat with the lines going under the boat is best because these baits get to the fish first. With a fast drift the side where the lines go away from the boat is best because as the fluke are trying to catch up to the bait and they get to these baits first.

Advanced:

        On days with little wind a slow drift, jigging with bucktails and fluke balls is most effective. When  fluke fishing with a lot of wind and a fast drift braided line offers less resistance and your sinker and bait stay on the bottom better. If you have any doubt about your sinker size use a heavier one. Your line must be on the bottom!

 

 

Weakfish is another one of the species that is extremely popular with consumers and sportsfishermen. Found in inshore waters and estuaries from Cape Hatteras to New England, the weakfish is one of our most sought-after species of finfish. 

Reaching a weight of 15 pounds and above, they are more often seen between 3 and 8 pounds. They are abundant in Long Island's bays between May and October. Weakfish are called weakfish because of their weak mouths that can tear if you try to lift them into the boat without using a net.

Fishing Tips:

We catch some weakfish on clams, but most of them are caught casting rubber artificial lures, like "bass assassins", on jig heads using spinning rods. Weaks bite best in the evening and at night. Fishermen do best moving the lure or bait slowly near the bottom. Braided lines like "power pro" work well when casting artificial lures because they cast a little further and have less stretch when hooking the fish. When we are drifting, the bow and stern seem to do best and when we anchor after dark the middle of the boat is usually best.

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Sea bass, also known as black sea bass, are a mild tasting fish with a firm, white fillet that support a major fishery in New York.  Sea bass are protogynous  hermaphrodites meaning they are females when they are born and at three to four years of age and about  3lbs. they change sex. You can identify the dominant males by the blue bump that develops on their foreheads.

Sea bass have a range that extends from New England to Florida but they are most concentrated off Long Island and New Jersey. They can weigh upwards of five pounds but are most commonly available in the one to three pound range. 

Primarily bottom dwellers, sea bass are fond of frequenting wrecks rocks and reefs. They migrate to deeper offshore waters in the fall and return to the shallower waters as they warm in the spring. We fish for sea bass with clam bait while anchored or drifting very slowly. They are often mixed with porgies and blackfish. Fishing season runs from May to November. Sea bass are easy to catch and double headers are very common when fishing is good.

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Blackfish, also known as tautog, (Tautoga onitis) ranges from Nova Scotia to South Carolina. It lives along the coast in rocky areas and may be found near pilings, jetties and wrecks. It is commonly taken at fishing reefs in the Atlantic Ocean just south of Long Island. Tautogs can grow to 3 feet or about 22 pounds, but most fish are between 2 and 8 pounds. Blackfish feed mostly on mussels, clams and crabs and only feed during the day. The greenish coloration in the fins is caused by this fish's diet, primarily blue mussels. And yes, they are a delicious food fish! We fish for blackfish with crabs anchored over ocean and bay wrecks. Blackfish like to get inside wrecks or between rocks and at night they sleep with their heads down and their tails up.

Fishing Tips:

Blackfish separate the good fishermen from the beginners. They are a tricky fish to catch. A blackfish first grabs a crab with itsí front teeth. You will feel a light tap on your line and if you lift up then you will pull the hook out of his mouth. Next the fish bites down to crack the shell. You feel a tug on the line. Donít swing now, but wait for the second or third tug when he is chewing and swallowing the crab. Now lift up hard on the rod pulling him out from between the rocks or wreckage. Then keep the rod up until you have reeled in at least 10 feet of line to prevent the tog from getting into the wreckage.

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Bluefish In the warmer weather the bluefish is one of the most common inhabitants of the inshore and near coastal waters in the Mid-Atlantic region. Ranging in size from small "snappers" of under a pound in weight to giant "slammers" weighing over twenty pounds, bluefish provide recreational opportunities and first-class table fare to millions of people each year. 

Bluefish are commonly found in the estuaries and the coastal waters of every state from Maine to Florida. They are in Long Island waters from May until November.

Fishing Tips:

We catch most of our bluefish casting rubber artificial lures at night or diamond jigs during daylight hours. Bluefish often bite best in the early morning, evening, and at night. Fishermen do best with a fast retrieve of the lure off the bottom. Braided line like "power pro" works well casting artificial lures because it casts a bit further and has less stretch when hooking a fish. When drifting and casting the bow and stern are best. When anchored after dark the middle of the boat is usually best. Some night trips we will catch bluefish in the ocean in 60 to 100 foot depths using bunker chum and mackerel bait. If anchored or drifting with bait the side of the boat with the lead, or where the lines run away from the boat, and to the fish first is usually best.



 

 

 

Porgy, which is also known as scup in the Mid-Atlantic region, is a common, bottom dwelling species that supports large recreational and commercial fisheries. Pound for pound it is one of the hardest fighting fish in  the sea.

Porgies have a range that extends from New England to Florida but they are most abundant from Long Island to Massachusetts. They can weigh upwards of five pounds but are most commonly available in the one to two pound range. 

Primarily bottom dwellers, they are fond of frequenting wrecks and other undersea structures. They migrate to deeper offshore waters in the fall and return to the shallower waters as they warm in the spring.

We catch porgies with clam bait anchored or slowly drifting on bay and ocean wrecks and reefs. They are most abundant in our area from July through November and are often mixed with sea bass and blackfish. Porgies are easy to catch and when fishing is good, double headers are common.

Fishing Tips:

Porgy bites are often relatively light, for that reason fishermen with lighter more sensitive rods and line often do the best. 20 lbs test line, either braided or monofilament, is about right. Spinning rods and light conventionals are good.

Porgies have small mouths and are usually hooked in the lips so the hook can easily rip out if you reel too fast or hook them too hard. The best porgy fishermen hook these scrappy fish by lifting the rod slowly about 3 feet then reeling them in slowly. When they reach the surface, they should be lifted into the boat by lowering the rod tip to within one foot of the water, then with one motion lifting the fish out of the water, over the rail, and into the boat. Actually this method of boating a fish should be used whenever you are not going to net or gaff a fish.

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Hempstead Harbor Anglers Club

P.O. Box 172
Glen Head, NY 11542-1954

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