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Pulled this up from last season:

Well gentlemen, my boat has been floating since yesterday morning (HOORAAH!!! and a HUGE thanks to my many friends who turned out this Spring in my "hour of need" to prep/paint/wax my boat - while enduring all sorts of abuse from the "G.C." - me! You guys know how much I care about you all!).

I'm now doing a final fitting out and finessing of the inevitable few small issues that always appear after Winter layup. Right on schedule, and quite naturally, my thoughts are moving towards catching my share of the little flat ones.

And yes, of course I've read all the recent posts about throwing these fish back - or not even targeting them; closing the season and what not.

Sorry to say, I do not agree.

These fish are still here, albeit in smaller numbers, if you know where to look. And I am crazy enough to believe that I still have enough game to put together a decent score, nearly every trip. Certainly its not an easy task. But with a limit of a mere ten fish/man, it IS very possible. Even probable, if you pay attention to weather/location/tides/baits.

I will say this though, our local Jones Inlet area bay fishing will be much, MUCH tougher than the later ocean fishing that comes along in about 3 weeks or so.

I intend to break up this topic into two sections - a very few words about what we've been up to lately "floundering-wise" on the Lep, coupled to an in-depth overview of inside Bay fishing from Jones Inlet to Massapequa Cove. And then a later add-on covering fishing "to the West." I will give some specific locations in both cases, none of them are particularly secret, but all can and will produce fish, tide/weather permitting.

With the way this fishing has skidded, soon the majority of my local fellow fishers will all be too young to remember much of this spectacularly popular fishing, let alone the many preferred spots we used to regularly hit. So I think a small recap of what I can recall, and of the locales I'd still go to locally, would be a good thing.

Let's get started - and this is a bit of an amalgam of several other posts I've written. So if you've read some of it before, please keep in mind that there's only so many spots I know well. Only so many bullets in my gun, so bear with me. I'll be interested to see if this thread develops much in the way of a response, if only to gauge the current level of interest in fishing for these fish - given that its no longer a "fish-in-the-barrel" type of fishing.

The area under discussion in this post is actually my home stomping grounds and I've fished it for flounder for the better part of 40 years, so I DO know the history, and am very sad to have lived through this specie's collapse...

Gone are the days that we can go out after work for the very few hours before dark and expect to pull a pail of flounder between a pair of anglers. Its almost unbelievable how prolific this species once was. Easily the most steady of all the many local fisheries we enjoyed here on the Island's South Shore.

But that was then and this is now. I must admit that the last time I've fished flounder locally was probably 4 seasons ago - since then we've pretty much given up on the local scene and done our flounder fishing WAAAY to the West.

Nothing secret about where to fish to the West - either run out Jones and down the beach and then up into Jamaica Bay - which we RARELY do, or over to Raritan Bay, towards the Keyport Flats (early), or to Roamer Shoals in the middle of the run. Last, but most certainly not least, to the various Sandy Hook ocean beach areas at the tail end of the Jersey flounder run as they turn the Hook and head south. At least I think that's what they're doing.

Maybe not though, becaause I understand there has been some recent evidence that the fish we see off the Cedars and Nudie Beach are actually ocean fish that have not migrated out of Raritan Bay.

We've done very well with this ocean floundering the last two weeks of April or so every season for the past 8 or so. It definitely is weather dependant fishing - it takes very decent weather to make that 27 mile run from the tip of the Jones Inlet jetty. We certainly do intend to make a few of those trips in the coming weeks as that ocean fishing develops. As best as I can recall, the very worst trip to the West we've had in all that time is 16 fish for 3 guys. But in general, if you know a bit about the fishing over there, you should have no problem achieving the per-man limit of 10 each.

Its rapidly becoming too rich a trip for my blood - has to be an 80 mile round trip dock/Inner Raritan Bay/dock - what with the cost of gas, three 3.5-gal blocks of chum, a bushel of bank mussels and maybe a box of sandies if we're feeling particularly frisky about our prospects. So I would conservatively say its gonna be close to $60 each for a three man trip out there.

For that kind of money, I'll put it plainly - I'm lookin' for blood. On a mission, as it were.

Anyway, pardon the tangent, I got side tracked there for a moment and jumped ahead a few weeks. Naturally our local Bay fishing is not what we had 12-15 years ago. But as I've already written, given the pitiful state of floundering, 10 fish per man is about as good as one can expect to do these days in the tri-state area. Other than maybe the late May/early June run of Flounder in the lower end of Moriches Bay, which I guess is now just about verboten, given the shortened season that will now be closing just as that bay's fishing really gets going.

So lets talk about my local bay flounder scene, which I already said I considered running from "the Cove," meaning Massapequa of course, to Jones Inlet to the west. O.K., so here's what I think - there are several spots to look, if I were to go looking for flounder in this area.

First and foremost, if I had to stake bettin' money on such a trip, (which thank the good Lord I do not); I would put my bux on the SW corner of Massapequa Cove, roughtly in the area of the first pole. First try the deeper 22' hole just to the NW of that pole - right up along the boat docks, and if that doesn't pan out move slightly (JUST slightly) east of the pole and set up on the sandy/muddy flats about 50-100' E of that pole in about 12-15'.

This absolutely, positively REQUIRES double anchors to keep the boat from swinging and draging your baits and chum pot. Plus heavily chumming with crushed mussels/ground clam/whole yellow corn, any or all being fine. You can also bring along a bathroom plunger on an extended pole to stir the bottom if you wish - but this cuts both ways, stir too much bottom up and the silt you raise will cover your carefully laid out chum. Then it will end up just feeding the crabs that like to root around in the muck.

Also, I would skip the expensive worms here and stick with fresh bank mussels on your hooks. Fish two rods to each angler, two or three hook rigs on each and do the "flounder bounce" with one rod, while deadsticking the other. You can never tell which is preferable - so let the fish make that decision for you - but I believe it proper to at least give them the opportunity to chose.

Another spot that is right near there are the 8-12' flats just south of that last canal to the West of Massapequa Cove. We used to SLAM the flounder here, these days we find that spot a killer locale for late Summer crabbing. The reason that both the flounder and the crabs find this place to their liking is the thick muddy bottom that this spot is known for. From that last canal head dead south SLOWLY and watch your depthfinder - it will start out at 15', drop down to around 20' and then start to shoal up - 'till you run out of water on the flats 100 yards dead to the south. You want that magic 10-12' depth at highwater. Set up there and use the same techniques that work everywhere else.

So that's spot #1 and 1A. Now there are other drops I really like that are up on the other side of the Wantagh Parkway as well as a few straight south, in the Bulkhead Drain that leads to the Squaw Island/West Island channel, but most of those are tough to get into if you do not have an intimate knowledge of the various drains. So I would say that the next spot to try is that well-known cove just to the East of the Jones Beach Piers.

When I was a kid back in High School three of us would rent a skiff equipped with a double pair of oars and we'd row like ****, (usually against the tide BOTH ways - funny how that works), to the area right between the two upright poles that mark (or used to mark) the entrance to that cove's channel. Its dead center right in the front as you enter the cove. If I recall correctly, its around 13' or so deep there and the bottom is a very thick, rich mud - great anchoring bottom. Again double anchoring is mandatory - you might try this spot a bit later, in about three weeks - it frequently paid off as the fish were migrating out of the upper bay and wereabout to make their run west towards the Inlet.

Figure the last week of April/first week of May here. Also in that cove, the eastern shore, just as it turns into the cove from the State Boat Channel can at times be good. Look for about 14' of water here and don't be afraid if the tide is running - it takes around 4 - 6 oz sinkers to hold bottom in this location. Don't bother throwing chum into the water by hand, as the tide runs too fast in this spot - here you need a chumpot. Cracked banks or frozen ground calm bellies, either way - at least one pot, if not two.

If that spot fails, then head West a bit, make a right turn into Haunt's Creek and follow the marked channel up North, pass the first big drain to the East (With the nice Bayhouse on its S corner) and then the second drain - which runs to the 2nd Wantagh Bridge. Continue North 'til the channel bends slightly to the east - then turn and head for the eastern shoreline. Careful here - there might be a bit of a shoal that you have to go over - but once you get closer to that eastern shore the water will drop away to like 7'. An excellent spot.

Many years ago this was considered the southern edge of "Rowboat Alley," back when there were a pair of boat liveries out of Merrick. Those are long gone now, but that area should still hold some very nice fish. Heavy crushed mussels, a boat anchored bow and stern and a pair of rods each, same as at the Massapequa Cove.

Last spot for me to give you is actually a pair of spots. One would be the very protected water inside the JI Coast Guard Station cove - directly behind the big island. Creep in there as it is not marked - but you will find about 8' of water, with rich black mud to fish over. If you can fight off the giant spider crabs, you should be able to pull some flounder there towards the 1st week of May.

The other spot in that general locale is in the fast moving water off the pole North of the CG station - typically behind that pole with the red light on it. Just watch for the other boats, find an open spot to anchor up, put in the chum pot and don't be afraid to lay on the lead. If the tide is really humpin' it might take a 6 or even an 8 oz sinker, not to worry that's just the way it goes at this spot. We used to pull some mammoo blowfish in this spot on top of some beautiful flounda'. Were the heck did THOSE things go, now that I think about it? Probably to extinct fish heaven, with the big mid-Summer bay kingfish and summer-run schoolie weakfish. Gotta be gettin' crowded in that particular part of heaven, I would think.

Anyway, to my knowledge this area is the last holding area for the flounder as they prepare to leave the Bay. Its no great secret, you will see that nearly everyone knows this and that's why even with today's ridiculously crummy local flounder fishing, it still gets very crowded there. I see no reason why you can't pull some fish there in mid to late May. If they're anywhere around the area at that time, they'll be here.

As far as tides go, I always had much better luck in my area fishing the incoming tide, no matter if it was early or late in the flounder season. Others say otherwise, but its been my experience that incoming rules for flounder.

I could also write a few hunderd words on the fantastic June flounder fishing we used to enjoy at the Meadowbrook Bridge - tie up to a certain of the stantions on the incoming, bring out a bushel of skimmers, cut out JUST the lips for bait and use the entire rest of the clam for chum. We could count on the largest specimens of our local-caught flounder on these trips and I always very much eagerly waited for that fishing to develop - with its 80-90 degree days, sunscreen and terrific fishing. Gone now, but not forgotten - not by me anyway.

Or I could also write a bunch of the great fishing in late May along the North bank of the State Channel just east of Haunt's Creek - right up tight to the bank. So close that the wakes of the passing mid-afternoon Saturday fleet threatened to throw us up onto the bank - and in one case actually did. But that particular spot would be a tough tooth pull now. Twenty-five years ago that area was home to a huge thick carpet of tasty black mussels - all long since harvested. And now although we do plug an occasional bass there, its not a spot I'd look for flounder. Not these days, anyway. Enough with the past, already.

Want to know about tackle? Whatever for? Any light stuff you have will work fine. No need to get fancy, unless that's your thing. I like a small Abu baitcaster on a light 6' graphite baitcasting rod - but its really up to you.

I tend to fish a pair of #6 or #8 SS O'Shaunessey hooks on a fishfinder rig. Those hooks were shown to me by my friend, the infamous Capt.XXX, "scourge of the deep Tilefish drops." Prior to him showing me these hooks I'd never considered anything but medium-length shanked gold beak hooks. But those tiny O'Shaunesseys really hook and hold the little flatties - at least as well as the old-timer's secret weapon - the venerable #6 Sproat - first talked up by none other than Matt Ahern more than 30 long seasons ago.

Oh, and part "B" of what I like in a terminal rig - a green glow-in-the-dark bead in front of every hook - something I had to learn the hard way - from that same Capt. Some days it doesn't seem to matter, but not every day . . . sometimes any small thing that you can use to even a slight advantage - that's really the secret to becoming good at any type of fishing isn't it? Watching the other fishers, seeing what works and adopting it into your own gameplan?

What do they say in the Army? Eyes open, mouth shut?

Works well for our favorite hobby too.

Sometimes, anyway - or I wouldn't be writing pieces like this. ;)

So I hope some of my local fellow flounder chasers find this type of info useful. Next I'll write up some salient points for those thinking of "sailing West" this Spring, for a shot at some truly decent Jersey fish.

Best, Lep

This post edited by Leprechaun 10:38 AM 05/04/2009


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Great Read Lep!!

I definately hear you on the state of flounder poundin' in the J.I. area. Massapequa is my home area as well, I remember fishing the Cove with my friend and his dad almost every weekend in their boat and doing well, regardless of wind, temps, rain, or the other excuses we use today to explain poor fishing. We also often fished opposite the pier at Seaman's Neck, at the entrance to Seaford Creek, and usually did well also. Heck, I'd often ride my bike to Florence Beach and cast out to the pole you refered to, and caught more flounder than I do today on most partyboat trips.

I couldn't offer anything as far as tackle that you didn't already think of, Lep. Actually, two things. One, I have always liked a 3 hook rig, not so I can mabey catch a triple header ( yeah right!) but so I can experiment more with different bait combos to see what is working on a given day - worm on one, mussel on another, worm & mussel combo on the third, mabey clam if we have it, and so forth. Another thing, and mabey it is completely psychological on my part, but I swear I catch more flounder when using yellow painted sinkers, and I also like a small chartruse grub. Who knows if any of these things work for sure, one thing I do know, they don't hurt, at least as far as I can tell.

I really would love to see flounder fishing come back in the Jones area, even only to the point where you have a decent shot at catching several a person, I know it will probably never be like it was years ago again. It really is a shame that those of us in this area have to either battle Belt Pkwy traffic coming and going, or take that long expensive boat ride you spoke of, Lep, in order to put together a decent catch of a fish that used to be so plentiful literally minutes from our homes.

Best of luck in the new season, Lep! May you be blessed with fair winds, flat seas, and full coolers always!

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I grew up in Massapequa, haven't flounder fished back there in I'd say 15 years, best I remember in the cove was by 8 pole on the east side of the cove, then around the corner by the "flagpole" aka Gambino's house, then the fish would funnel out to 4 corners, that was good fishing, SQuaw Island was superb as well..there if you got shallow enough you could see the flounders pounce on the mussel baits. There were too many spots in that bay that held insane amounts of fishing by far was on the SE side of the 3rd wantaugh...nothing compared to that for fast the mid 80's guys on the Capt Lou or the Chinco caught 100 a man, I remember, I was there.

back of Merrick Bay by Nicks, north end of Haunts Creek, south swift creek by the houses, even early on at slack tide in Jones inlet by what was then 4 bouy on the east beach north of the jetty was fast fishing at slack tide, all males, in an hour if you were good you could catch 15-20 there.

Wonder if anyone has tried that recently.

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I guess I'll just have to meet you out at Romer in a few weeks!

I remember not too long ago when Jamaica Bay was a great place to do a 1/2 day trip and limit on flounder. BIG flounder too! We regularly see fish up to 19" in our bay. These days, flounder fishing is like a job almost.

Spoke to a few of the guys this week that have fished flounder in the bay the last two weeks. So far, nothing to brag about. However, the water is still on the chilly side at 44-45 degrees. That is NOT an ideal water temp for Jamaica Bay flounder. So, we wait.
And we hope.

I plan to fish this weekend, weather permitting and I sure do hope that our fortunes change. I'm not looking to slaughter 'em. We don't necessarily need to limit out to have a good day. Just wanna take a few home for the table. That would make me happy.

Before ya know it, we'll be making the trip to Jersey (as Pete mentioned) and see what happens.

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
JC - I dock my boat way up Seaford Creek and steam past that dock at Seaman's Neck Park every single trip. I've been in and around the Seaford Creek area with a boat for many, many years - since high school, actually. And I graduated in '73. I can well remember the boats lined up from Seaman's Neck Park down thru the Four Corners right on south to what is now the Bouy 13 area. Dozens and dozens of boats anchored up on both sides of the channel - most days all doing pretty fair on the flounder.

ctwc - What a great area to grow up Bayfishing, wasn't it? Moriches and Jamaica Bay had nothin' on us back then, that's for sure.

You mentioned Squaw Island and though I alluded to that area in my earlier post, I didn't speak of it in depth because someone unfamiliar with that area's funky channels would have to navigate the sand bars of the western-most portion of it without the benefit of buoy aids. But you're absolutely right, NO spot was as nice to fish on a calm early May morning as that very peaceful channel south of Squaw Island.

If you can call Squaw an actual Island. More like a raised mud flat, even 30 years ago. Some of my best memories of flounder fishing are from that area. We didn't use worms or even bank mussels in that area. Our "best" bait was nothing more than the then-famous red-dyed Skimmers. For some reason the fish in that area really keyed on that bait.

Did you ever run your boat towards the north side of that channel (towards Squaw), get out and pitchfork tapeworms? One & two footers were easy as pie to get, all you wanted, enough to fish an entire tide if that's the bait you wanted to use. They pulled the fish pretty good too.

Of course it wasn't really the worms we were after up there was it? It was the incredible seemingly inexhaustable supply of cherrystones, little necks and Chowda's that pulled all those little bay skiffs to that area, all season long. I can remember it like it was yesterday, we would bring the ****tail sauce and whole lemons with us on the boat - I can't even begin to say how many dozens of Cherrystones I knocked down right there on the boat. I was one of the few that I fished with that preferred the larger chewier 'stones to the petite little necks. Its a "me" thing, I guess.

I'll tell you another inspiring sight I clearly recall while flounder fishing out that way. How about watching Capt. Al maneuver his big "White over green" fishin' bouy down that Bulkhead Drain after coming thru the Second Wantagh? God that has to be almost 30 seasons ago, but I clearly remember thinking how it looked almost suicidal taking that big boat pretty much all the way to Squaw. But of course, he never did run that boat aground that I ever saw. Geez, I had forgotten that sight in my mind's eye 'til this very moment. Thank you.

On the subject of fishing that area, did you ever fish that same channel where it turns North and bends around West Island, on its way up to Amityville? We used to fish there in the 20' depths and had quite a few real good days there. Nice bottom in that area, probably 'til this very day.

Savvy - yep. We're certainly planning to head "down there" as soon as it gets going. You well know what we have to put up with to get that far to the West, so we'll be picking our days, for sure. But that's a subject for a forthcoming essay on my part.

best, Lep

This post edited by Leprechaun 11:36 PM 04/28/2008

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Amityville cut, sure, fished there on my friends skiff when I was maybe 14 years old or so. Also sailed with Capt. Al when we would run to Squaw and slay the biggest flounders around easter....we would bump bottom running up to squaw but never ran aground hard.

Havent fished around squaw since probably 1988 or so, I wouldn't even remember where to stop now, but what's the difference, probably no flounders left there anyway.
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