Luis....what many fishermen do not know in this area, that the first scup that move into our area come around the middle to end of April and are caught by fish traps, pounds net and inshore draggers. These fish are the big spawners, weighting from 1 upto 4 lbs! These fish have worked their way up from our southerly canyons like Toms, then upto the west side of Hudson, and then come inshore following the contour lines of the bottom from 40-30 fathoms and filter into the bays of Long Island, Block and Rhode Island Channel and off of Mass., then move into the shallow sandy bottom off of Hyannis and Falmouth. They will stack up off this southerly point to spawn in May and early June, then will move into Buzzards Bay and Vineyard Sound for the season. You will be fishing on 'readings' not 'bottom' at this time of the year for the scup.
Scup will take a most easterly migration while coming inshore, while seabass will take a more northerly migration in our area of the NY BIGHT. Also unlike scup, seabass can be caught by hook and line as they come inshore. We can actually follow the seabass inshore from our Canyons off of New Jersey, as they can be caught in April in depths from 30-25 fathoms one week, then 20 fathoms the next week or so, then 15 the week after, ontill we see them in May in water depths of 35-40 feet off the beach. Off Mass. waters we see the seabass move into the shallows during May and be caught in very good numbers during this time. The first showing or 'tip-off' of these fish, are when these fish are caught in the pots put out by the commercial fishing fleet. Again, the seabass do not leave these inshore areas, but filter and spread out around the Buzzard Bay, and Marthas Vineyard area. Rocky areas like Robinsons (i found 'outer' better the 'inner' for large seabass), Cleveland Ledge, and the Weepecket Islands will hold some good concentrations of seabass along with the scup. If you are fishing Vineyard Sound, and not on a wreck, and the current is 'cranking' you can drift, and pickup a few seabass along with some large scup on high-low rigs baited with skimmers or squid strips.
The vast majority of fish we see for both species are mostly bigger fish when they first migrate inshore. As the weather and waters warm, we noticeably see a decrease in the size of these fish.
Both fish also follow the phases of the moon as they move inshore, but the scup can be almost DIRECTLY timed to the phases of the new and full moon when they will bight. Pick up your calender for MAY, then look at when the phases of the full and new moon occur. This year, the full will occur during the middle of the month and the new at the end of the month. I would time my Mass., scup trips around these periods, limiting my fishing as we get to the day of the moon. As we count down from 3 days to the moon, and then 3 days off the moon, the fishing usually slows down, then picks up as we get off the moon. This is VERY IMPORTANT to remember.
In the NY BIGHT we see large spawning size scup move into what was called the Blackside, which is the channel area north of Sandy Hook during May and June. These fish get right into the shallows around wrecks, rockpiles and the mussel bottom around Flynns Knoll. One spot, the Romer Porgy Spot, originally found by the fishing boat Jet years ago, used to hold very large concentrations of these big scup over the years. And anyone getting worried about this getting out, should know, that this great spot, like most others on the blackside, has been roller geared over, and has little relief left. You have to be dead on with your 'ranges' on this spot now. To the east, the area around Debs inlet surprisingly sees a good showing of these large scup, which then fizzs out as the water warms in late June.
Finally for your trips off of Mass, plan them from the middle of May till middle of June...this will be the initial movement of fish inshore, and the spawning phase. After that time, the fish move onto the summer haunts in that area and are neither as big or concentrated in numbers.
Bring your own fresh lightly salted skimmers, some fresh squid, use a high low rig and you should be set.
EC NEWELL MAN*