Long Island Fishing: The Complete Guide

Aug 1, 2022 | 10 minute read Comments
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Reading Time: 10 minutes

It’s no surprise that the largest island on the US mainland offers incredible angling opportunities. But that it can all be explored just a stone’s throw from one of the world’s greatest metropolises adds another dimension to fishing on Long Island. Take a short ride out of New York City and you could find yourself a whole world away from the hustle and bustle. Kick back in stunning seaside towns, on beautiful beaches, or out on the water, and cast your line for rich rewards!

A view of Long Island's south shore from the air

Wherever you are on “the island,” as New Yorkers like to call it, you’re not far from sterling fishing action. The bays and creeks towards the city are full of inshore favorites, with bights and sounds all around, too. And don’t forget that the Atlantic Ocean is also on your doorstep! From inshore trips learning the ropes to offshore adventures battling it out with monster fish, everything is possible! So let’s dive in and see what Long Island fishing is all about.

What fish can I catch on Long Island?

Before choosing your next fishing destination, you want to know what’s biting where. Despite harsh winters, Long Island is a 365-day-a-year fishery, so there’s always something ready to take your bait when you visit. Whether looking to fill the coolers inshore or for that dream catch offshore, there’s something for you. Here’s our pick of the top species to target on Long Island.

Fluke

A group of anglers all hold Flukes after fishing in Long Island

Long Island Fluke fishing is legendary. Winter Flounder, Summer Fluke, and Yellowtail Flounder all inhabit these shallow waters. Sound confusing, read our guide on the difference between them! As with most creatures here, Fluke are heavily regulated, so you’ll only be able to keep them between May and early October. But that’s plenty of time to fill your freezer with fish fillets for the whole year!

You won’t want to miss out on the season. These delicious creatures are seafood favorites all along the East Coast, and the whole country! They’re fun to target, as they crawl along the muddy bottoms, requiring strength more than technique to hook ‘em aboard. The whole family can target them – just make sure to bring plenty of live or dead bait, and you’re sure to get your fill!

Seabass

An angler holds a Black Seabass caught in Long Island

While Fluke is a delicacy across the US, Seabass is a worldwide table fare fish. However, the East Coast variety is actually a member of the Grouper family. That just means more good news! They’re incredibly exciting to target and offer up plenty of delicious meat! These creatures love to feed along the bottoms, much like Flounder, but promise a real battle to get off the end of your line once hooked.

Hit any spot where there’s some structure and, chances are, there’ll be a Seabass biting. The season is open from June through the end of the year, when you can try bottom fishing with live bait to attract their attention. When you hook one, get ready for a real fight! Once you do get them aboard, make sure to snap a picture with your jet-black fish, before cooking up a delicious dinner.

Cod

Atlantic Cod stacked on top of each other on a boat

Speaking of dinner, the most notorious fish dish – Fish and Chips – is usually made with one of Long Island’s most-coveted creatures. Cod is one of the most sought-after creatures in the Atlantic, and it comes close up to shore in the north of Long Island. The Long Island and Block Island Sounds are the most productive areas, so a trip out of Montauk promises the greatest prizes.

While not as fun to catch as Seabass, it’s definitely just as, if not more, rewarding. And the better news? You can catch it year-round! Well, in theory. There’s no seasonality restriction for Cod, however, you’ll most likely only be able to target them in winter and early spring. Troll the deeper spots or bottom fish where you know they’re biting and get your fill of tasty fish fillets!

Striped Bass

A group of anglers hold a Striped Bass each while fishing in Long Island

Without a doubt, the most coveted fish on Long Island, however, is the Striped Bass. Rockfish, as they’re commonly known here, grow to incredible sizes and promise a real fight along with plenty of delicious rewards to take home. In fact, Striped Bass fishing is so popular on Long Island that we’ve dedicated a whole blog post to it.

All around the island, you’ll find these creatures looking to gobble your bait, so put your line out there and get ready to do battle! They’re available to take home from April onwards, so there’s no excuse to miss out on the action. Use any technique you like – trolling, bottom fishing, and even fly fishing can yield great results!

Tuna

A group of anglers pose with a Tuna caught while fishing in Long Island

So enough about inshore fishing on Long Island. Now it’s time to turn our attention to deep sea fishing. Tuna fishing in the Atlantic is not just a pastime for Long Island anglers, but rather a source of pride. And so it should be! Montauk was home to New York State’s record Bluefin Tuna catch back in 1977, weighing in at an incredible 1971 pounds! 

But it’s not all about Bluefin. Yellowfin Tuna are just as much a part of the offshore fishing scene during the summer months. Chances are, if you head offshore during the season, you’ll be targeting both prized Tuna species. Not only do both grow to huge sizes, but their food qualities – well, they need no introduction. Get ready for a serious upper body workout, as you spend upwards of 10 hours on the water trying to get your name in the history books!

And More!

A man and some young boys pose with a Shark caught in Long Island

On top of the prized species we’ve mentioned above, there are plenty more to sink your hooks into. Inshore, Tautog (or Blackfish to the locals) and Scup make for equally-tasty table fare as Flounder and Seabass, while Bluefish and Weakfish are a worthy supporting cast to Stripers. You can also try crabbing most of the year, to set up at least a two-course meal.

Head to the deeper waters and the list of fish you can target is almost endless. Mahi Mahi often rub shoulders with Tuna, while Kingfish and Amberjack often come close to shore. Wherever you are, keep your eye out for Sharks, as Threshers nearshore and Makos offshore are sure to get your adrenaline levels racing!

How to Go Fishing on Long Island

So you know what you want to catch, now it’s about getting the biggest bang for your buck. Fortunately, Long Island really makes the most of its fishing potential. From wade fishing in the creeks, to casting off a designated pier, all the way up to large offshore sportfishing vessels – there’s something for all kinds of angler here.

Long Island Surf Fishing

A sole angler casts into the Atlantic Ocean from Long Island

While we know there’s more to fishing than just sitting by the water all day, sometimes it’s just what you need. What better way to get away from it all and focus on what’s important – fishing? Try the beaches, grassy flats, creeks, and even some structures sticking out into the water. Wherever you go, all the inshore favorites are on the menu!

The bays on the north side of the island make for excellent shore fishing action, allowing you to get right up close to the fish. Meanwhile, the south shore is where you’ll find the best shallow creeks. Don’t forget about Captree State Park and its dedicated fishing area, nor Fire Island with over 30 miles of beaches for you to cast from.

Long Island Pier Fishing

A view of a fishing pier on Long Island at sunset

Any inshore fishing destination worth its salt makes the most of its surroundings. Long Island is no different. Wherever you are on the island, you won’t be far from a fishing pier to get you out on the water. These structures get you closer to the fish, provide you with a great view of your target species, and give you that extra bit of purchase when reeling ‘em in. And they also do a job in attracting the fish! Fish from any pier on Long Island, and we’re sure you’ll be successful.

Captree State Park is again a hotspot for pier fishing, with no fewer than four fishing piers. Long Beach, closer to NYC, has its own pier, while Babylon and Fire Island also have their own structures on the south shore. In the north, head to Cedar Beach, Stony Brook, or Port Washington and get in on the action. Meanwhile, Shinnecock Canal, Sag Harbor, and Navy Beach also boast piers further east.

Long Island Party Boat Fishing

A large party fishing boat makes its way to the bay out of New York

If pier fishing is the “done thing” in inshore waters, then party boat fishing must give it a close run for its money. A favorite way of fishing all along the East Coast’s bays, this way of fishing has been seized upon by local captains and businessmen, turning large fishing vessels into party boats for recreational anglers.

The boats are slow, so you won’t go further than the bays, but that’s where some of the best action takes place! They’re a great option for solo anglers on a budget. However, companies can hire an entire vessel for team-building exercises, or you can hire them for private parties! Whoever you go with, you’re in for plenty of fun.

Long Island Charter Fishing

A fishing charter in Montauk is leaving the marina

The only thing that can beat fishing on a boat with a load of other people is fishing on a boat with your nearest and dearest. In fact, it blows it out of the water – pun intended! Spend your time exploring a range of fishing grounds, going after the fish you want. And, of course, it’s the only way to get offshore!

Your professional captain will be happy to give a helping hand to beginners, while they’ll also provide the latest gear for those who want to catch ‘em all. Montauk is famous around the world for its fishing charters, while Captree and Babylon boast the largest fleets. But you can’t go wrong from Long Beach via Huntington and Fire Island to the sea. 

Long Island Freshwater Fishing

Cherry Blossom trees overlook the water in Babylon, NY

With so much on offer in saltwater, you may think it’s no surprise that freshwater fishing on the island is often overlooked. However, we’re here to tell you that’s a mistake. If you’re a freshwater fanatic or just fancy mixing things up, Long Island has plenty of options. Fly anglers, in particular, will relish the chance to escape the crowds and get their fish on…

The island’s lakes and ponds are stocked with all the nation’s favorite freshwater fish. Largemouth Bass, Trout, Perch, Catfish, Carp, and a whole range of Panfish are sure to keep you entertained. There may even be the odd Walleye lurking about! Nassau County around Hampstead boasts some of the best spots, while Lake Rankonkonen – the largest on the island – is full of rewards, too.

Long Island Fishing Spots

A view across the bay from Long Island

So we’ve talked about the what and how. Now it’s down to the “where.” No matter if you’re on foot, looking for a pier, or wondering which body of water to hit, you deserve to know where the honey holes are. Here’s our pick of the best places to go fishing on Long Island.

  • Fire Island: The 31-mile stretch of beach speaks for itself. It’s the ideal spot for surf fishing, with access to the bays, inlets, and Atlantic.
  • Robert Moses State Park: Linking up to Fire Island, this is a prime surf fishing spot for Fluke and Bluefish, as well as crabbing. There’s a golf course, too, so you can take a break from fishing whenever you want!
  • Shinnecock Bay: Possibly the best fishing spots in the Hamptons are along this rich body of water. Hit the canal that links the north and south shores or head out onto the bay itself. Pier fishing, surf fishing, and charters are all possible here.
  • Montauk: We couldn’t talk about the best fishing spots on Long Island without mentioning this town. It’s the gateway to some of the island’s best fishing grounds, with the Block Island and Long Island Sounds, along with the Atlantic within reach.
  • Atlantic Ocean: Speaking of the Atlantic, we couldn’t not mention it, either! You may think we’re cheating by including such a large body of water, but the offshore action in summer simply can’t be beaten.
  • Lake Ronkonkoma: If you’re looking for freshwater action, then look no further than Long Island’s largest lake. Shore fishing, pier fishing, and boat ramps mean that you can tackle the lake whichever way you want, as you look to land a prized fish. 

Anything else?

A bird has landed on a fishing pier in New York where regulations state that only two rods are allowed per angler

Fishing on Long Island – and, in fact, the whole of New York – is pretty straightforward. If you’re fishing on a registered boat, you won’t need a license at all. However, if you’re fishing from shore or aboard your own vessel, you’ll need to register with the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry. Don’t worry though, it’s absolutely free!

If you’re thinking of hitting the freshwater fishing grounds, you will, however, require a license. Find out how to get yours with our handy guide.

When it comes to other regulations, we’ve already let you in on some of the species’ seasonalities. However, most fish are also subject to bag and size limits – and they can change depending on the season. Find out everything you need to know at the NY DEC website

And You’re Good to Go!

A view towards Montauk lighthouse with the sea on the right-hand side

You should now be all set to go fishing on Long Island. Whether on a short hop from the Big Apple or spending a whole vacation, the island has plenty to keep you entertained. Settle in for some thrilling angling action and reap the rewards over a delicious fish dinner at the end of the day. We’re sure that, once you come to Long Island once, you’ll come back time and time again!

Have you ever been fishing on Long Island? How was it? Share your experiences with us in the comments below. 

Comments (30)
  • Joe

    Aug 7, 2022

    Hi All,
    I’ve been on a bunch of party boats fishing, but I have never done it on my own. My 4 year old son has been asking recently to fish and my father in law bought him an ugly stick. I would like to bring him to Cedar beach to give it a try. So question time.
    1. Can anyone tell me what I can catch over there and is an ugly stick sufficient?
    2. Ill also need to get us some bait and hooks so recommendations would be great.
    3. Time of year? I may not get a chance to go until early September, is that too late?
    4. Lastly do I need a permit?
    Thank you!

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      Rhys

      Aug 8, 2022

      Hi Joe,

      Rhys here from FishingBooker. Thanks for reading and for your questions. Come September, you’ll be able to catch some of the best nearshore species out of Long Island, with Seabass, Tautog, Fluke, Bluefish, and Striped Bass all in the cards, so it’s definitely not too late. Depending on the size of your son’s gear, there’s no reason why an Ugly Stik setup wouldn’t suffice, either.

      When it comes to bait, there’s a range of bait fish that can do the trick for most of the creatures that you’ll be targeting. Squid, shrimp, crab, and clams are the most popular, but worms and mullet can also work well. As for hooks, I suggest a three-way hook on a 30 lb leader to get your bait down to where the fish live. Just beware that circle hooks are a must when fishing for Striped Bass.

      Oh, and the good news is that you’ll be completely covered aboard a party boat for your licenses!

      I hope this helps.

      Tight lines,

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  • RAMZY HANIEN

    Jun 26, 2022

    I’m new to the fishing sport. I appreciate any advice from anyone who has experience.

    Thanks

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      Rhys

      Jun 27, 2022

      Hi Ramzy,

      Rhys here. I’d be happy to give any advice about fishing in general and especially about fishing on Long Island. What is it that you’re interested in?

      Tight lines,

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    • Reply icon

      Tal

      Aug 2, 2022

      Hey Rhys,
      Was wondering if there are beachworms or bloodworms anywhere on Long Island? Can I go to any beach and catch them ?

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      Tanya

      Aug 2, 2022

      Hi Tal,
      There are both sandworms and bloodworms around Long Island. The Long Island Sound side is home to good sandworms, whereas the South Shore side of Long Island is more famous for its bloodworms. You should be able to dig them out from the beach using pitch fork or any small garden rake. But, before doing it might be a good idea to take a look at these regulations and consult with the officials on whether you need any special permit depending on the area you’d like to focus on.

      Hope this helps.
      Let us know how it went.

      Tight lines!
      Tanya

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  • mikki J

    Jun 2, 2022

    Nice article. I’ve been fishing the south shore for months now. Is there at public beach or area at north shore that we can fish? I’m not asking for a specific spot, because I know its private.

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      Lisa

      Jun 2, 2022

      Hi Mikki,

      Thank you for reaching out. Have you considered Cedar Beach fishing pier area and Stony Brook Fishing Dock near the Stony Brook Yacht Club? There’s also Glenwood Landing, Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington Bay, Jamesport.

      Let’s see if we can get more suggestions from the locals here in the comments.

      I hope this helps,

      Lisa

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  • Tim

    Apr 27, 2022

    What are some good fishing spots in shelter Island

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      Vuk

      Apr 27, 2022

      Hi Tim,

      Thanks for getting in touch. Some good places to start fishing Shelter Island would be Hay Beach on the northern tip of the island as well as Jennings Point that’s out on the western end. Both of them are known to be good for dawn and dusk casts. Hope this helps!

      Tight lines,
      Vuk

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  • David

    Nov 24, 2021

    Great article, and I truly love this place! Born and raised, we have an amazing sport fishery for sure! Sometimes as a local, we take what we have for granted, but you did a super job in calling out the fishing highlights of our beautiful place we call “home”.

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      Lisa

      Nov 25, 2021

      Hi David,

      Thank you for reading and your comment. We’re glad you enjoyed the article!

      You’re right, Long Island is indeed a wonderful place. Can’t wait to fish there!

      Lisa

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  • Donald

    Sep 25, 2021

    Author of post should learn how to spell geographic names.

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      Rhys

      Sep 27, 2021

      Hi Donald,

      Thanks for reading. Could you please point out which names I misspelled? I’d be happy to amend them right away!

      Tight lines,

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  • Moe

    Aug 22, 2021

    Don’t forget about full and half day charters departing from Montauk. I had an amazing time on Lazy Bones last week. They provide the bait, rods, and the mates went above and beyond to make us feel like pros. I got 2 nice Black Sea Bass and some Porgies. They filet the fish before you leave the boat. Most affordable at 60$ for a half day. Moe

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      Andriana

      Aug 23, 2021

      Hi Moe,

      You’re right, there are some great fishing charters in Montauk that are professional and will go out of their way to put you on the fish.

      I hope you get to enjoy more of the excellent fishing Montauk has to offer in the future, Moe.

      All the best!

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  • Frank Schiff

    Aug 19, 2021

    Fished NYC & LI since mid-60s, a lot less fish today than yesteryear. I’ve read cod fish were caught on the LI beach shore line 100 years ago.

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      Mosses perez

      Jun 7, 2022

      I used to catch them at night along with whiting or silver hake as thier also called off of coney island pier at night in the winter in the late sixtys.

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  • Rafael Stoklosa

    Jul 30, 2021

    It’s all wrong. Seems you never fished.

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      Lisa

      Aug 3, 2021

      Hi Rafael,

      Thank you for reading and reaching out! Could you please tell us what made you think that Rhys, the author of the article, never fished? We’d appreciate it.

      Thanks!

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  • Donald Quick

    Jun 25, 2021

    You fish ON Long Island, not IN. eg. You can fish in Montauk on Long Island.

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      Vule

      Jun 25, 2021

      Hi Donald,

      Thanks for reading and pointing that out. You’re absolutely right, and we’ve made changes to reflect that. Thanks for reaching out!

      Tight Lines,

      Vule

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  • Aminul

    Jun 23, 2021

    This is such a great and informative page! I am from Queens and was wondering if there are local guides who could help us (6 people) to rent a boat and assist us for fishing.

    Thanks,

    Aminul.

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      Vule

      Jun 23, 2021

      Hi Aminul,

      Thanks for reaching out! There are many local captains who can help you out, you can take a look at our charter offer here. Hope you have fun!

      Tight Lines,

      Vule

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  • Ray

    Apr 21, 2021

    The correct name and spelling is……………RONKONKOMA. 😜

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      Rhys

      Apr 22, 2021

      Hi Ray,

      Thanks for reading and for spotting that mistake. I have no idea how that slipped through – must have been thinking of something else at the time! Thanks for catching it and I can assure you it’s updated!

      Tight lines,

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  • Chris Fiammetta

    Feb 21, 2021

    What size striped bass are you catching on that day

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      Rhys

      Feb 22, 2021

      Hi Chris,

      Thanks for your question. As with throughout the year, you can catch good-sized Striped Bass around Long Island, currenyly. However, you should be aware that the season is closed until April, so you must practice catch and release on these fish if targeting them in the coming days or month.

      Tight lines,

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  • Warren

    Jan 17, 2021

    I want to go cod fishing on my boat off Long Island. I usually do inshore fishing and have never gone out for cod. Can anyone tell me how far offshore you need to go to catch them?

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      Rhys

      Jan 18, 2021

      Hi Warren,

      Thanks for reading and for your good question. You’ll need to go pretty far out to catch Cod, as these creatures love the deep water out of Long Island. You may have some luck around Block Island, especially when the season hits, but you may need to go even further. Please let us know how you get on!

      Tight lines,

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