Hotspots For Empire State Spring Stripers

Hotspots For Empire State Spring Stripers

Here's where to find some great public-access fishing for big spring stripers in New York's rivers and saltwater bays. (May 2008)

Photo by Mark Fike.

From March through late fall, the Empire State offers anglers a wide variety of options for striper action. Tidal rivers, Big Apple bays and Long Island's shores offer excellent access to exciting striper destinations in spring.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) biologists need anglers' assistance to help them make informed management decisions about stripers and other popular marine species.

Anglers wishing to participate in the Striped Bass Cooperative Anglers Program can simply keep a logbook with scale samples, noting every fish they catch, from keeper to schoolie. At the end of the season, the DEC's Bureau of Marine Resources will review the information All participants will receive a copy of the annual report, along with updates and any regulation changes.

To participate, call (631) 444-0488. Or you can e-mail your request to

According to Julia Socrates, a DEC marine biologist, the data collected to date indicates that in spring, stripers may be caught pretty much everywhere around Long Island.

"Stripers are going to be more prevalent in the bays, harbors, inlets and Long Island Sound than along the eastern Atlantic beaches," Socrates noted. "The timing of when stripers are most prevalent and where the sweet spots are varies yearly because those things are greatly influenced by water temperature, salinity and food abundance. The best advice "For someone not familiar with Long Island's striper fishery is to ask local bait shop and marina owners what they are hearing from striped bass fishermen. There are also many local newspapers and magazines that provide that kind of information. Word travels fast!"

Socrates reminded anglers that the rules are updated several times each year. Before heading out, review regulations at the DEC's Web site, outdoor/7894.html .

With Long Island Sound on one side, Great South Bay on the other, and all of the Atlantic Ocean beyond that, Long Island is an ideal fishing destination. Plentiful state parks here assure angler access to plenty of great striper fishing.

For access to the heart of the Sound, head for Smithtown Bay. Forage fish school around wrecks, reefs and jetties, making the Long Beach area an excellent place to find hungry stripers.

Just a few miles offshore is the Smithtown Bay Artificial Reef. Hook a lively herring through the top of the head and troll this area for some serious strikes. Access may be had at Nissequogue River boat ramp on Old Dock Road, and at the Otto Schubert Boat Ramp or Long Beach Town Marina on Long Beach Road.

For plenty of angler access to the sound farther up the road, visit Wildwood State Park in Wading River. Also check out DeLorme's New York Atlas and Gazetteer, pages 25 to 29, for more Long Island access points.

Oyster Bay offers excellent access to the waters of Great South Bay. The Harry Tappan Beach Boat Basin, the Theodore Roosevelt Beach and Marina, the Tobay Beach and Boat Basin and John J. Burns Park offer boat launches and shoreline access in the Oyster Bay area.

About midway up the island, Heckscher State Park in East Islip offers boat access to the southern shore.

A bit beyond that, anglers will want to explore the waters of Patchogue Bay. The town of Blue Point has several shoreline and boat access sites available.

No striper-fishing trip on Long Island's south shore would be complete without wetting a line in Shinnecock Bay. If the fish aren't biting close to shore, head out for deep-sea adventure around the Shinnecock Artificial Reef. Access to the bay is available at several small harbors along Route 80 in South Hampton off Beach Road, or at the Shinnecock Bay Fishing Station and Marina at 22 Shinnecock Road in Hampton Bay.

Montauk, at the tip of Long Island, offers access to Block Island Sound on one side and the open Atlantic Ocean on the other. Saltwater access just doesn't get much better than this!

For excellent surfcasting opportunities, visit Montauk Downs State Park off Route 27. Boat access may be had off Soundview Drive.

Hither Hills State Park offers year-round fishing access, but a permit is needed for night-angling. Montauk Point State Park also offers excellent surf fishing opportunities. Shadmoor State Park, east of Montauk Village, also allows fishing along its 2,400-foot beach.

Some of the best surf fishing in the world may be at Camp Hero State Park, open to anglers 24/7 as long as they have a permit.

To reach this 415-acre park, which also boasts a former military base now registered as a national historic site, take Route 27.

Access to Lower New York Bay is available from several locations, including a sandy beach area with a small-boat launch at Coney Island Creek Park on Bayview Avenue.

Or check out Kaiser Park on Neptune Avenue, where anglers may access a pier as well as enjoy casting opportunities along both sandy and rocky beach areas.

Access to East Bay can be had through Jones Beach State Park off Meadowbrook State Parkway. This park has miles of rocky shoreline where anglers can try their luck for hungry stripers.

Tidal rivers, Big Apple bays and Long Island's shores offer excellent access to exciting striper destinations in spring.

"Similar to salmon, striped bass are a species that lives in the ocean and comes into freshwater to spawn," explained Kris McShane, a DEC fisheries biologist. "Except stripers don't die. They can spawn multiple times. They migrate along the Atlantic coast in March, April and May, with the 4- to 5-year-old males arriving first. The 6- to 7- year-old females follow.

"Hudson River stripers can swim all the way up to Albany, where they are stopped by the Troy Dam," he said. "I believe it's about 153 miles from the tip of Manhattan up to the Troy Dam. Some stripers stop at multiple areas. By May, it's really spawning time throughout the whole river -- and there

's a lot of 'em. Our 2007 state-record striper (55 pounds, 6 ounces) was caught near Kingston.

"In sampling studies, we caught two stripers above 50 pounds this season," McShane continued. "The record we caught with a net was 57 and three-quarter pounds -- the largest striper ever recorded in the Hudson River. That was also in the Kingston area."

There are boat launches at the Charley Rider Park boat launch off Route 9W, the Sleightsburg launch off Route 9W and Norrie Point Marina off Route 9 in Norrie Point State Park.

In May, head to Esopus Flats, where there is a large, relatively shallow area where striped bass like to spawn. Stripers come here to breed, not to feed, but they do need energy, so they will hit occasionally. A lot of fish are caught, even though they aren't in the feeding frenzies you may see at Shinnecock.

"Try trolling or fishing chunk bait on bottom," McShane suggested. For shoreline access, he suggested visiting local marinas and tackle shops to ask about rights of way to the water.

As waters warm up, Newburgh Bay is the next hotspot, and then Kingston. "There are a lot of small sweet spots in between," McShane said.

Anglers will find plentiful marinas, boat launches and tackle shops in Catskill where Catskill Creek runs into the Hudson.

"The fish stack up at Troy Dam," McShane said. "In May, they turn around and leave. But people do catch them into mid- to late June as the bass are headed out.

"After June, there probably won't be any big bass north of Haverstraw," he noted. "This migratory species does a big loop, going up north and swinging out into the ocean, then coming back toward the coast in fall.

"They spend the winter in North Carolina, so there is a fall run in September, October and November in the saltier areas of the Hudson and along both coasts of Long Island.

"We also have resident stripers --usually younger males in the 2- to 5-year range that will live in the more brackish, southern portion of the Hudson," McShane concluded.

"In fall, some of the big ones come back upriver to feed on small herring and shad."

For more marine fishing information, call the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's Bureau of Marine Fisheries at (631) 444-0488. You can also visit outdoor/7894.html.

For travel information, you can visit , or call 1-800-225-5697

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