With diverse, abundant fisheries that can only be described as “unrivaled,” Long Island should be first on your list when it comes to your New York adventure. Get ready to travel beyond the tourist hotspots of Manhattan, the hipster paradise that is Brooklyn, and even the foodie fanatics’ favorite, Queens. Long Island Striped Bass fishing is something that beats even the most magical of visits to the Big Apple!
Why Striped Bass, and why Long Island?
There are many reasons why Striped Bass, also known as Striper and Rockfish, has remained such a staunch favorite in the Northeast. Let’s start with the obvious: the pure abundance of them!
Thanks to their ability to inhabit salt, fresh, and brackish waters, this species can be found pretty much everywhere in Long Island. But Long Island Striped Bass fishing is most popular in saltwater by far!
This island has a jaw-dropping variety of fisheries, including the Atlantic and the many tributaries that lead into it. There’s also plenty of shallow, rocky fishing grounds that Striper love. To top it off, Long Island is smack-bang in the middle of the Striped Bass annual migration route. Depending on when you visit, your chance of hooking this fish goes from “great” to “won’t go home without one”!
And why would you want to go home without one? Striped Bass here can grow to seriously impressive sizes, are plenty of fun to catch, and taste incredible. It’s a grand slam of top angling action!
Who can fish for them?
Although it’s a favorite target among the Northeast’s most hardcore fishermen, don’t be fooled into thinking that Striper fishing is only for the pros. This is a real “people’s fish,” thanks to its history as Long Island’s top market fish, and the variety of ways you can catch it.
Basically, Long Island Striped Bass fishing can be completely tailored to suit your skill level. It can be as simple or as complex as you’d like it to be. This is why this species is so irresistible!
Where to go
Long Island is surrounded by some world-class waters. There’s Long Island Sound to the north, the Atlantic to the south, and Gardiners Bay at the very eastern tip. Think this sounds intimidating? Don’t worry! Local anglers have had plenty of time to discover specific Striper hotspots in these vast fisheries. We’ve compiled them here for you.
Funnily enough, from an aerial view, Long Island looks a bit like a large fish. Montauk is located on the very tip of its “tail,” and is often called “The Last Resort” by locals and tourists alike (tongue firmly in cheek, of course!) When it comes to Striper fishing, there’s plenty of reasons why this resort town should be first on your list. The majority of Long Island fishing charters depart from here, for one!
In New York State, the name “Montauk” has become almost synonymous with saltwater fishing. This is all down to the area’s many state and world records, and direct access to the Atlantic. You’ll be able to reach deeper waters if you’re fishing from a vessel, but the locations below are great options when it comes to shoreline fishing, too!
- North of the Point. This easy-to-access part of the coastline is home to plenty of fast-sweeping currents, which often lead to huge Striper “blitzes.”
- South of the Point. Striped Bass love rocky fishing grounds, and can regularly be found inhabiting the wilder waters here, so come test your skills and endurance.
- The Elbow. This secret spot is home to some pretty turbulent waters, but it’s definitely worth a visit. Striper weighing up to 40 pounds are regularly caught here!
Although south shore fishing often conjures up images of Montauk Point, there are some other “can’t-miss” locations we’d like to highlight, too!
- Shinnecock Bay. Montauk’s inshore waters are world-famous, and Shinnecock Bay definitely helps contribute to this! If you’d like to try out chasing Bass at nighttime, the bay’s inlet is a great starting place.
- Fire Island Inlet. The waters here are pretty turbulent, which might put off some fishermen. If you’re up to the challenge, Fire Island Inlet can yield seriously impressive results. One thing to note: you’ll need a good boat that can withstand these rough waters!
In general, “North Shore” refers to the entire stretch of Long Island’s northern shoreline, which boasts direct access to the Long Island Sound.
If you’re looking for some literary history to accompany your angling, then this is the place to visit. “The Great Gatsby” was set in one of this area’s wealthy hamlets. You’ll get to take in some seriously stunning property as you cast off from your boat or the shoreline.
We think F. Scott Fitzgerald got it slightly wrong: You don’t need to be a wealthy socialite to fit in here. All you need is a rod, reel, and some determination!
- Little Neck and Hempstead Bay. Located along western Long Island Sound, these are springtime hotspots for Striper. They also offer up a truly traditional Northeastern fishing experience. In fact, it’s often said that anglers in this area practically fish in each other’s backyards!
- Lloyd Neck/Cold Spring Harbor/Center Island. This cluster of locations provides Striper action that’s perfect for expert anglers. Generally, fishermen around here pursue Bass under the cover of darkness. You can cruise the boulder-strewn shores for this fish’s favorite hiding spots!
Looking for a secret spot that remains relatively untouched by other anglers? Mattituck Inlet is somewhat hard to access, but the pay-off is incredible! It’s nearly impossible to reach these waters by boat, so we recommend fishing from the shoreline at night. Just don’t tell anybody else!
How can I catch them?
So remember when we said that Striped Bass is the “people’s fish?” Here’s why. You can use pretty much any fishing technique to hook them, and with the guidance of an experienced angler, even brand new fishermen will soon be chasing Striper like a pro.
In fact, we think this is what makes fishing for Striped Bass in Long Island so special. It’s likely that you’ll witness hardened, local fishermen casting off alongside tourists who’ve never wielded a rod and reel before. They’re all united by their drive to hook this long-standing American tradition! All you need to do is pick your favorite technique from the options below, and join them.
Before we even get into the technique itself, it’s important to know that Striped Bass are not picky when it comes to what they eat! Herring, menhaden, flounder, crabs, worms, squid, eel…the list goes on! This might be bad news for these bait fish, but it’s good news for you. It really widens up the techniques and bait you can use. Nothing is off limits!
If you want to hook Striped Bass from a boat, chances are you’ll usually be trolling. This species is responsive to live bait, rigged baits, jigs, spoons, and plugs. But the real winner is the lowly sandworm! A traditional and popular method is trolling sandworms behind your boat as you slowly navigate your chosen fishing grounds. Not only is it a successful technique, but it’s also a pleasant, relaxing experience, too!
Because of this, trolling for Striped Bass can be an excellent option for newer anglers. However, make sure that you choose to travel with an experienced guide who will show you the ropes. If you’re more experienced, feel free to head out alone and troll to your heart’s content!
If you’d prefer to stay on land, and want a more “hands-on” experience, why not give surf casting a try? This technique is really popular in Long Island, especially near Montauk, which is home to stretches of Striper-friendly shorelines. It’s also the perfect option if you want to venture out to less-fished spots, which usually aren’t accessible by boat!
Surf casting will generally see you using a spinning rod with live, cut, or artificial bait attached. You’ll patrol the beach looking for shallow, rocky fishing grounds, as well as bird activity on top of the water. These signs can indicate if Striper are lurking below! Once you’ve spotted your desired location, you’ll fix your rod into the sand and wait for the Bass to bite.
If you’re an avid fly fisherman, or want to take the next step in your angling career, give chasing Striped Bass on the fly a go. New York is known as the birthplace of fly fishing in the US, after all, so where better to test your skills?
The most common approach to fly fishing for Bass in Long Island is on foot, in shallow, rocky waters. Bring your best fly fishing gear, and get ready to wade for your Striper!
These hardy, adaptable fish will gladly eat almost anything, and flies are no different. A top tip from local fishermen: use fast-sinking lines and heads to help your fly reach (and stay at) your fish’s preferred feeding level.
Preparing for your visit
When can I catch them?
This species is subject to closed and open seasons in New York, so make sure you plan your visit carefully. When it comes to Long Island Striped Bass fishing, visit between April and mid-December, when these fish are abundant and can be legally hooked!
If you’re looking to surf cast, then the spring and fall months are the best times for this. If you’re lucky enough to be visiting during the fall, make sure you head to Montauk to catch the “Striper Fall Run!”
What do I need to bring?
If you choose to fish alongside a registered guide or charter, you won’t have to do anything except step aboard your vessel for the day. Your fishing license will be covered, as well as rods, reels, a variety of bait, and tackle. Fly fishing gear is the only exception – but we’re guessing that you probably have your own trusty rod you’d like to bring along, anyway!
If you’re looking for a traditional East Coast angling adventure, what could be better than targeting the fish that’s often called the “aquatic equivalent” of the American bald eagle? Striped Bass has already earned a name for itself in Long Island’s history books. Come and make yourself part of the story!