September OTW Magazine Eastern LIS Fishing Forecast
Be Ready – this is as exciting as it gets!
We all have our favorite species to fish for and we all have our favorite time of the year. I would make the case, however, that September is the most exciting month of the fishing season here in Long Island Sound. Stripers, Bluefish, Summer Flounder, Black Seabass, Porgy, False Albacore, and Bonito are all attainable during the month of September. Play your cards right and you can try to catch every one of those species in a single trip!
Depending on the weather, Striped Bass should be showing the first signs of their fall migration this month. The spring migration into our Northern waters had a lot of anglers scratching their heads, and I’m sure the fall run will be no different. Look to spots where Bunker are plentiful, as there should be both adult and peanut bunker getting harassed by stripers and blues. Inlets to harbors, coves, and estuaries will be spots that Bunker congregate, and likewise get some attention from the predators. Snagging and live-lining adult bunker is an excellent method for catching monsters, but never underestimate the power of an artificial for working the edges of a nervous pod of bunker.
Summer Flounder and Seabass should be fattening up for winter and peanut bunker are an excellent bait for big doormat fluke. I’ve had great success over the past several seasons targeting fluke and seabass by finding the bait and fishing below. There should be tons of tiny baitfish in the region, and while it might get ignored by big stripers and blues the other predators are still hungry and feeding.
Typically the very end of August and beginning of September is the window that dedicated and hardworking anglers get their first funny fish. But as I write this column there are reports of Bonito showing up way ahead of schedule this summer! This September is sure to be an interesting and thrilling month for the speedsters most of us obsess over.
Regardless of what you call them (Little Tunny, False Albacore, Albies, Bones, etc) these “funny fish” provide some of the most exhilarating fishing New England can provide. Most anglers I know have a mild obsession with these speedsters and I’ve known more than one angler to skip work, sleep in their vehicle, and run themselves ragged in search of Albies and Bonito.
When specifically targeting these funny fish, I bring along at least one rod rigged up and ready to go just for them. This will be a slightly lighter action rod to allow for better casting of light weight lures. More importantly though, I always have a couple reels loaded with lighter line for this time of year. A couple extra spools for my Cabo reels spooled with Sufix 832 braid 15lb test make it easy to swap spools and be ready for the Albies and Bones. A lighter braid like 15lb test will allow a much further and more accurate cast when it counts.
Small metal and/or epoxy jigs have become the standard for targeting these speedsters. Just about every tackle shop carries Deadly Dicks in a variety of sizes and colors and there are several companies producing epoxy/resin jigs as well. These lures will cast very well on light line and fast action rods allowing you to reach a little further when a school is blitzing nearby.
There is also a growing trend to fish soft plastics for Bonito and False Albacore, and rightfully so because they work incredibly well! While you might not have the casting distance you would with a metal or resin jig, soft plastics allow you to slow the retrieve down a bit and work the bait more. Soft plastics from Al Gag’s, Hogy, Lunker City, Fish Snax, and Cobra Bait have all caught their share of funny fish for me and my buddies over the past few years. Keep the bait in the small to medium size range and don’t be afraid to fish different than that rapid retrieve you were taught. I’ve personally hooked up with Albies fishing a soft plastic down below the boat when there were no signs of fish on the surface.
For those anglers looking for an even more exciting challenge, fly fishing for False Albacore is a true test of patience and skill. Be prepared with at least an 8 or 9 weight rod to handle the fight, anything less and you’ll risk defeat. Tie on a fly to mimic silversides, anchovies, or even peanut bunker when targeting these hard-tail predators. Try not to waste too much time false casting and keep your fly in the water as much as possible. Whether you’re fishing from a boat, kayak, or shoreline, you can’t get a hit if your line isn’t in the water.
The past few seasons have been absolutely spectacular for both Bonito and Little Tunny – let’s all keep our fingers crossed for another banner run!