John Skinner is the author of Fishing the Bucktail and A Season on the Edge. He’s the creator of the fishing log software FishersLog. He’s a consistent producer of trophy striped bass and holds the current New York State false albacore record.
A nice thing about this time of year is that there is a lot of bait in close. The warm waters might have the striper bite off, but the conditions are perfect to do some fluking from the beach. Most of what you'll catch are shorts, but there are keepers, and you might be surprised by what is swimming in two feet of water along the beach lip. The fish in the picture measured 27 inches and weighed 7.8 pounds. This is a lazy convenient fishery where you can head out with a few Gulp baits in a Ziploc bag and a light bucktailing stick. It's a nice late summer pursuit as we wait for the stripers of the fall run.
Last week was the hottest in a couple of years on Long Island, but at least there was some good fishing to be had near the cooler air at the water's edge. I won't lie, bass fishing from the shore has been tougher this season than a few years ago, but there are still some quality fish to be had. The key now is to target cooler water. This means ocean beaches, incoming currents in the inlets, and the eastern parts of the forks. Late night and first light when the waters are at their coolest are also typically the best time to pursue stripers this time of the year. It was a first light trip near last week's Full Moon that produced the quality striper in the picture. It took a Guppy Pencil Popper, which is about as good a casting pencil as you'll find. As is often the case in the summer, the bite, if you could call it that, was short and confined to four consecutive casts at sunrise. The other fish landed were only small schoolies. These days I'm much more likely to be chasing fluke than stripers, and that action has been excellent. Last week I found 5-pounders from shore and kayak, but the highlight was my first ever partyboat fluke trip. I blame the Hampton Lady's Facebook page. Capt. Jim is wise in his use of technology, and the cell phone video he posted during last Monday's trip was too much to take. It started off with a 10-pound fluke being netted, and then the video moved toward the stern, passing another doormat on the deck, to net yet another big one. "No reservations. Just show up," the post read. That was enough to win me over. It was a great call as I boated a limit plus of mostly big fluke on a 20-pound-class baitcaster and a 3-ounce bucktail. It was a great way to beat the heat of the 90-degree air back on land! We still have what is often the hottest month of the year ahead of us, and it will be interesting to see what develops given all of the bait in our waters. There are more peanut bunker on both shores than I've seen in more than ten years, and I'm hearing the same from many other anglers. The ocean has a load of big sandeels not far off the ocean beaches, and there's an unusual concentration of mackerel a mile or so off. On a recent kayak trip in the ocean I was surrounded by adult bunker for hours. Things could get interesting when the weather starts cooling later this month. In the meantime, enjoy what August has to offer!