When anchoring in the inlet for bass, I have proven success when using a chum bucket filled with ground up frozen clam or bunker chum logs. These are readily available at most bait shops. I use salted whole clam bellies and cast them directly in the chum slick. This is a very effective method and a very enjoyable way to fish the area. When at anchor, you can relax, save some fuel and be pretty sure to find consistent striper and bluefish action. There are strong opinions on fishing the inlet on the hook, as the drifting boaters feel the anchored boats block their drifts. Everybody has a right to fish this technique, but when anchoring in the area you need to stay out of the navigable channels and stick to the areas that are out of the channel itself and out of harmís way. When fishing with clams I have become a convert to the circle hook. I like the Gamakatsu 6/0 blood red circle hooks and I use the same rod, reels, and line setup that I described for chunking bunker. Circle hooks may take the hook-set excitement out of fishing, but it decreases the fish mortality rate significantly, as bass tend to inhale a clam in one full swoop. Clam chumming will yield a lot of schoolie-size bass, but don't be surprised when a huge bass takes a run with your clam. Last year my brother Bob and I landed over eighteen bass fishing this technique. In the mix, we had eight very nice keepers, taking only our limit.
Fluke fishing is also very popular in the area. My son and I have caught many fluke drifting the inlet and along the sand bars on the east and west cuts. When fishing for fluke in the area, don't forget about the options you have both in the bay and the ocean. In Moriches Bay I like using 1-ounce white bucktails with small squid strips worked straight up and down off the bottom. There are some very productive areas when the fish are in the bay, and sometimes the weather will prevent you from fishing the ocean. When fishing the ocean, you will need to experiment by targeting depths from 20 to 80 foot of water. Fluke seem to have a mind of their own and the key to finding them is to use your sounder to locate where the bait is stacking up on any given day. When fluke fishing in the ocean or in the inlet itself, I believe in big bait for big fluke, so don't be afraid to rig a whole squid to your hook. This is especially important with the new fluke regulations of larger and fewer fish in 2007 and maybe beyond. When using whole squid, you will want to use a tandem hook rig to ensure a hook is at the tip and near the bottom or head of the squid. If you go the single hook route, you are bound to lose your bait regularly. I like to use a medium action conventional setup for fluke, and a Penn 310 reel with 20-pound braid has been a good choice so far. I also like to incorporate teasers when fluke fishing. I tie a pink, white or chartreuse teaser about 18 to 24 inches above the bait and in many cases the fluke hit the teaser first.
If you fish this area you will need to know the distinction between current and tide, as it can mean the difference in quantity of fish you catch. Current is the vertical movement of water, whereas tide is the horizontal movement. The difference in an inlet is how the ebb and flood of a very large body of water move. When the bay starts to ebb, it can't just hit the breaks and stop moving water in an instant. In Moriches Inlet there is a time delta where the water is actually raising or falling, but the water is still coming in or moving out. Not to confuse the matter, but add a stiff wind against the tide scenario, full or new moon, and even what I tell you here may differ by as much as a half hour or more. It takes approximately 2.5 hours for the current to come to dead slack after the high or low tide. So, for example, if you read the tide predictions for Moriches Inlet and high tide is predicted at 1500 hours, you can be pretty sure that slack will occur at around 1730 hours. When anchored in the inlet, it always fascinates me to watch the rip come directly towards the boat as the ebb and flood battle for supremacy over the tide.
As for structure, the inlet is full of it. Whether you are drifting over the boulders alongside the jetty walls or the humps and dips on the bottom, use your sounder to identify the great opportunities below the surface. For the brave of heart, there are many sandbars both inside and outside the mouth of the inlet that hold all your favorite species at any given time. The breakers can be a nerve racking experience and I recommend that only boats with a shallow draft mess around near the breakers as the water can go from 5 feet to 1 foot very quickly. If you choose to fish the breakers, then stay in the deep troughs far enough away from the waves and make sure somebody is always at the helm. The ocean side of the inlet just beyond the breakers offers a great opportunity for top water plugs with a spinning outfit. Here, the fall blitzes of bluefish and bass will slaughter your surface plugs providing you with some great action.
Fishing Moriches Inlet can be a productive and exuberating experience. The area is no different than any other when it comes to putting in your time. Donít simply read the reports, but go out and make your own. My fishing log has shown that six years ago my catch rate was pretty poor in the area. Now my results are significantly better and more consistent because I studied the area, learned the tides and put in my time. So grab some fresh bait and a friend, check your safety equipment, and find your way to Moriches Inlet, an ďAnglerís ParadiseĒ for sure.