Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- December 7, 2023

Big blackfish are caught off the North Fork and the west end, stripers continue to feed on bunker and sand eels out front, and freshwater fishing picks up in the creeks and ponds.

Long Island and NYC Fishing Report

Western L.I. and NYC

The Western L.I./NYC Fishing Report is written and compiled by NYSDEC licensed kayak fishing guide, Nick Cancelliere (@li_kayak_fishing).

  • Bass and bluefish continue to bite from shore and outside the inlets on bunker pods. 
  • Bluefin continue to make appearances in shallow. 
  • Freshwater anglers are catching walleye, pickerel, trout, and more. 
  • Blackfish season ain’t over yet. 

Jamie from Bay Park Fishing Station reports: 

“Rich Schue reported stripers still holding off the beaches. Most fish are over 31 inches. When weather allows, blackfishing at the wrecks has continued to be steady. Bay Park is still stocked with green and white crabs! Our December hours are now 7:00AM – 4:00PM Wednesday to Sunday. Get your holiday shopping done now! 15% off rods, reels, & combos, and 20% off everything else in the store!” 

Brandon Weitz from Causeway Bait and Tackle in Wantagh told me: 

“The bass bite is still on fire with fish of all sizes – unders, overs, and slots can be found beneath the bunker as well as bluefin. When fishing the bunker pods flutter spoons are the way to go!”

Paul McCain from River Bay Outfitters in Baldwin said: 

“I’m still hearing of bass in the surf and out a mile off the beaches from the boaters. Capt. Frank has been using the bait and switch technique to land some beautiful bass on the fly!

As far as freshwater, this morning I did a walk around the local ponds by me and saw some surface ice, but that won’t be a problem by this weekend. Weeds are down and the fish gotta eat! On the Connetquot this week, I shook things up and visited some beats I wouldn’t normally pick. I had a few rises on dry flies, but the fish are very finicky and wouldn’t always commit. I had two brookies, ultimately, on the dry fly and most others came on the trusty wooly bugger. I had a ball with wet flies on the rainbows. The fish just finished spawning and are pretty rowdy so now’s a great time to visit the river!” 

Captain Josh Rogers of Gypsea Charters in Brooklyn reports:

“Excellent blackfishing on most trips this past week aboard the Gypsea. Nice, quality fish have been coming up on all trips. They seem to chew more on certain parts of the tide, and when they do, it’s an all-out slaughter! Of course, we have seen some slower days when the conditions are tough, but overall, we are very satisfied with the fishing. Only a little less than a month left in the NY season, so book a trip and come on out! Call/text (516)659-3814 for info and reservations, which are required.”

Despite some tougher conditions, the blackfish bite remains steady on certain stages of the tide for the Gypsea crew this week. (@gypseacharters)

Here’s what anglers have been posting on social media: 


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This past Monday was the NY DEC’s Addendum II hearing. And the in-person turnout wasn’t very large – maybe 40-50 were present not including DEC & ASMFC staff.

If you want your voice to be heard, submit comments by email to comments@asmfc.org This will have greater impact than a text message, social media comment, or forum post. Read up on Addendum II here.

As for fishing, I’ve committed to my 2023-2024 winter freshwater season. First on the menu was a fish I’d known existed on Long Island for a while but had never targeted: Chain Pickerel.  

There are a few bodies of water on LI that host these pike-like fish, and in recent years there have been some jumbo catches well over the 20-inch range, which piqued my interest even further. I’ve always had a love for northern pike, finding them to be the freshwater equivalent to bluefish and even drawing comparisons to false albacore. So, I loaded up on hard baits, soft baits, and thick leaders and set off to new bodies of water that I had never fished before.  

When I arrived at my destination lake on Saturday, it was quiet and warm. I was confident the day would be productive, and I got to work walking the southern edge of the lake casting a weightless, Texas-rigged crawfish along submerged downed trees, first letting it sink slowly and working it on the bottom, then working a steady retrieve and allowing the claws to flap along the surface, making a noise similar to a whopper plopper. 

I’ve used this weightless crawfish presentation in the Adirondack mountains while chasing northern pike, and it results in epic blow-ups not just from pike, but also big smallmouth bass hiding in thick weeds and under lily pads. I’d hoped to entice a topwater pickerel hit, but ultimately my success came from a 3-inch Keitech easy shiner on a ¼-ounce jighead.  

At one point, I found some high ground to cast from where I could see directly into the water. I worked a 4-inch paddle tail on a ¼-ounce swim jig slowly back to me, and caught a glimpse of a slim, green figure taking a swipe at it. I was certain it was a jumbo pickerel. From there I knew I’d be spending the rest of the day at that spot, rotating through lures and retrieves attempting to get that fish to bite. But to no avail. So after an hour of throwing everything besides the kitchen sink at it, I moved on to another body of water, tipped off by my buddy and OTW Assistant Editor Matt Haeffner. 

I saved this spot for last, since according to Matt, it was where I’d most likely find the slime dart I was after. But when I arrived, my confidence wasn’t very high. The water had a sheen to it and smelled, and trash lined the edges of it. Nonetheless, I got to casting as best I could through the limited access points.  

I’d been pretty good that day about avoiding tree limbs, but eventually I did manage to snag my line on a tree and break off. Naturally this came after getting whacked by something that pulled the tail right off my keitech easy shiner. I frantically rushed to retie, hoping that fish would still be there.  

How many of you have been in this situation? – you break off in the middle of a bite on a breezy day and suddenly lose all ability in your hands to tie the most basic knots that you’ve done a thousand times or more? That happened to me. After spending 20 minutes or so just to put together a double-uni knot, I made another cast with very little confidence that fish would still be there. But not long after that jig hit the water and I started reeling, I hooked up with my first ever slime dart.

This chunky pickerel was hanging off a shallow point when it crushed my paddletail on a steady retrieve. (@li_kayak_fishing)

While not large enough to pull drag, this fish was close to 20 inches and tons of fun on my light tackle freshwater setup. I know I’ll be back to chase that fish that I missed in the earlier spot all winter. For tips on chasing pickerel this winter, check out Matt Haeffner’s article here.

Western L.I. and NYC Fishing Forecast

It ain’t over till the fat lady sings – or perhaps until the fat man hitches his sleigh. While blackfish season in the Long Island Sound ends this Saturday the 9th, the NY Bight season is still in full swing and doesn’t conclude until the 22nd, two weeks from today. The diehards are still out there getting tight on stripers both in the surf and especially in the back bays. Those with boats still in the water are still having a ball chasing bass and blues on the pods, and party boats continue to sail, shifting to offshore wrecks for sea bass, porgy, cod, and blackfish.

It’s been a cold week but the weekend is looking mild. Sunday is forecasted to be warm, rainy, and windy. My suggestion is to don some waders and rain gear and hit up a pond or river protected from the wind. Personally, I might be in my kayak with a topwater lure tied on… The warmer weather and upcoming storm could make for a great freshwater day Saturday. Whether you’re stalking trout on the Connetquot or Carmans rivers, casting spoons to stockers at one of the many ponds across L.I., or throwing bread-covered hot-dog chunks dipped in kool-aid at a carp in your local library’s pond.

We are officially 2 weeks away from winter, and the start of a new season brings new fishing opportunities. I plan on covering more of LI’s freshwater throughout the season and hopefully inspire someone to keep fishing even if their salt rods are put away. 

Thanks for reading, and tight lines. 

The Western L.I./NYC Fishing Report is written and compiled by NYSDEC licensed kayak fishing guide, Nick Cancelliere (@li_kayak_fishing).

Eastern Long Island Fishing Report

The Eastern L.I. Fishing Report is written and compiled by OTW Field Editor, drone pilot and NYSDEC surf/fly fishing guide, Tim Regan (@southforksalt).

  • Last licks for surf stripers. Holdover bite heating up.
  • Big blues and bass caught mid-island this week.
  • White perch and pickerel providing hot action in the freshwater.
  • Big sea bass chewing on the wrecks. Good mixed bag action out there.

The Captree Pride reports:

“We ended our 2023 striper season catching 600 bass and blues mixed with nonstop blitzes all day. It was unfortunately an abrupt end, due to the weather canceling our final day, but it was great to go out on that high note. Earlier in the week, we had 500-600 fish days, with overs and shorts keeping the rods bent the entire trip. We had a full boat limit on our first drift. There were huge schools of sand eels just south of the inlet, providing the stripers with a mega feast. The bite they produced was the best one we’ve seen all year.”

The Fishfinder of Captree reports: 

“Friday’s AM trip was great, with unders, overs and keepers keeping rods bent the entire trip. We even saw a 7-8 foot great white sharks come up alongside the boat and eat a few bass that were being reeled in. Saturday’s AM trip was also excellent, with a full boat limit of keeper bass, ad nonstop catch and release with overs and unders to 25 pounds. Bluefish to 16 pounds were in the mix. All fish were taken on diamond jigs. We called it quits on Sunday for the 2023 season.”

Bill at Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle in Oakdale reports:

“There are still some stripers around for those hardcore anglers to go enjoy. Bucktails, SP Minnows, Mag Darters and diamond jigs are getting whomped by every bass still in our waters. This was an incredible fall run, and we can’t wait for the spring! There is still plenty of time to get after some solid tautog action. The local wrecks and reefs are loaded with white chins. Bigger fish will be out of the bay by this time. White perch are starting to pop up all over the place. These little cousins of the striped bass provide amazing light tackle fishing through the winter months. The shop is open, and stocked with gear and bait for white perch all winter long. We carry all sorts of gear for trout as well, including flies and fly fishing tackle for those winter trips to Connetquot and upstate. Walleye are poking out as well. They love small swim baits and in-line spinners. Largemouth and smallmouth will be smacking up small swim baits, jerkbaits, jigs, and senkos during these cold months. We hope you have a great winter, and enjoy the holiday season! Thank you all for your continued support.”


Bill Falco of Chasing Tails Bait and Tackle dialed in the white perch bite earlier this week.

Brooklyn Girl in Orient reports:

“Saturday’s sold-out, 26-angler trip enjoyed a steady pick of blackfish all day, with some trophies to finish up the trip. 91 keepers came over the rail, and then Dennis pulled up a 10.15 pound tog. He caught 8 other keepers, two of them 7-7.5 pounds. Keith Sr. & Jr. also landed a bunch of good fish to 7.75 pounds. Joe A. limited to 6 pounds and caught a bunch of shorts, sea bass and a 26-inch cod.”

Big tog are still chewing off of the North Fork in Long Island Sound for anglers aboard the Brooklyn Girl this week.

Contact Ken/Barbara for trip info: 631-395-7055.

Nick from Haskell’s Bait and Tackle in East Quogue reports:

“Word is there are some nice sea bass in the deep. Commercial guys have been picking at them good this week. Freshwater anglers are getting some nice-sized panfish and pickerel when the surface isn’t iced over. Walleye fishing has been decent for those getting after them.”

The Hampton Lady of Hampton Bays reports:

“On Saturday, we returned to port with a full boat limit after a 12-hour wreck trip. We limited out on giant sea bass and caught some other species like porgies. Fish were taking both jigs and bait, and it was true whack-and-stack fishing. “

Chris Albronda from Montauk reports:

“The highlight of the week would undoubtedly be the bottom fishing. The tog fishery provided anglers with action at certain points in the tide. The sea bass bit all day, and they were thick. Codfish showed up in better numbers with ling, whiting and pollock in the mix. On the south side, there was a showing of birds working the shore feeding on full size bay anchovies, with stripers in tow. They stuck around for most of the week. Happy holidays everyone!” Shoot Chris a text at 631-830-3881 to book a trip.

Bill Wetzel of the Surf Rats Ball reports:

“Bill’s looking forward to the December new moon, with high hopes for a herring bite. His last attempt at targeting large was about a week ago, to no avail. He found a bunch of spearing on the north side, but nothing else anywhere else.” Subscribe today at longislandsurffishing.com.

Montauk’s Viking Fleet reports:

“Yesterday morning’s bite was very good, with lots of sea bass and porgies coming over the rail. The afternoon was a bit tougher, but we maintained a decent pick, mixed with pollock, ling and mackerel. A 2.6-pound porgy took the pool. Double headers have been coming up with regularity, and fishing is staying consistent from day to day. We’ve been picking some weakfish from the depths as well, and the tog bite has been solid for those targeting them.”


The Viking Fleet is on the meat! Sea bass, porgies, pollock and cod are all coming over the rail this week.

Eastern L.I. Fishing Forecast

I’m about as excited as I’ve ever been for winter fishing. There’s always this chance for a decent early December bite, and this year delivered. Right after Thanksgiving, I had perch on the mind, and I was able to find some small ones (a foot long, tops) in some brackish water. A 12 inch perch is a formidable affair for light tackle, so catching them was a blast; it wasn’t those 15+ inchers that’ll soon enter the estuaries though. That’s what it’s all about. Luckily there were some holdover stripers to keep things interesting as well, to about keeper size. Holdover fishing has improved immensely in the years I’ve been targeting them. I have a feeling it’s mostly the same fish I’m seeing year after year, but I also feel like their numbers are increasing. For one, there’s a good amount of very small stripers. As I understand it, these fish would be too small to be migrators. They were likely born locally and remained residents. If future conditions remain favorable, maybe they’ll grow into migratory cows and return home for Christmas every year. I’d be happy to see them. 

I caught this holdover on the fly in a local salt pond earlier this week. (@southforksalt)

That said, most of my recent holdovers have been on the smaller side. I’ve been finding stripers in the surf too, though. A notable population of gannets has been working the waters on the east end, which put the perch out of my mind immediately. I’ve been thinking so much about this December surf bite, about the potential for big fish on herring, and here was that potential. Although I haven’t come across anything huge, I’ve caught about 50 stripers in the surf in the past 4 days. I even had a few hickory shad, and they were enormous!

Hickory shad are feeding on sand eels in the December surf alongside a wave of late migratory stripers. (@southforksalt)

Today I fly fished with my friend EJ and we had fish almost every cast for a couple hours. They were mostly the size of death rats, but we each had a fish that was about 26 inches today.

My friend EJ with one of many bass on the beach this morning. (@southforksalt)

These just-unders are thick too, especially compared to the holdovers. Waves of stripers have been moving across this prominent point, and the fish are feeding in all sorts of different “micro” structures. It’s been fun to pick apart and figure out which piece of water is most productive on the lower half of the tide, or where to be when there’s a bit more of a wave.

Even if there weren’t fish, I’d be having an excellent time on the beach. We anglers are in touch with nature during this incredible period when many facets of nature are flourishing. The bunker’s resurgence has beckoned unbelievable sights right along the shoreline: whales, sharks, tuna, etc. You know what I’m talking about. A few weeks ago, I must’ve mentioned this experience I had where I saw 4 bald eagles fighting over some fish. I kept seeing fish fall from their talons as they chased each other. I couldn’t imagine an eagle experience that would top that. Then, yesterday happened. 

A truck pulled on to the beach where I was fishing. The truck’s trajectory seemed funny, so I paid a bit of extra attention to it. That’s when I noticed a juvenile bald eagle flying a short distance behind it. I watched the eagle go and land on a sandbar, right near two other eagles. A couple minutes later, I noticed another eagle on another sandbar about a hundred yards away. Eventually that eagle joined the three, and I was watching four bald eagles interact. I ran back home grabbed my camera, and hurried back to the beach. Luckily, the 4 eagles were still chilling in the same spot. I hurried to different spots to get different vantages for my photos.

I spotted several juvenile bald eagles with an adult down by the water yesterday. Unbelievable to see so many concentrated in one area!

Right after I left the first spot, a fifth eagle flew right over my head and joined the 4 eagles on the sandbar! Right when I thought this sight couldn’t get any more ridiculous, a second white-head bald eagle approached. I was now looking at 2 adults and 4 juveniles (of different ages, discernible by their plumage) hanging out on the same sandbar. The magic didn’t last long, as I figured it would probably get competitive. Eventually the two bald heads took off, and then the juveniles left one-by-one. I took a bunch of photos, but that’s probably going to be one of my most memorable experiences from the 2023 fishing season. Right at the buzzer too, December 6.

The moral of the story is, don’t hang up your gear or assume everything’s done! There are fish migrating, and awesome sights to see. Eventually there may be some snowy owls here. I’ll still be prowling the beach if/when that happens. A birder friend of mine thinks there may not be any snowy owls this year, given the warming winters. Regardless, there’s lots of cool wild to experience before the harsher winter months. 

This is the last report I’ll write this year, so I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my forecasts and found them useful! I hope you get a couple more fish before this year’s over, and have a wonderful holiday season. Stay warm this winter, and keep an eye out for some cool videos I’ll post during the cold months!

The Eastern L.I. Fishing Report is written and compiled by OTW Field Editor, drone pilot and NYSDEC surf/fly fishing guide, Tim Regan (@southforksalt).

2 on “Long Island and NYC Fishing Report- December 7, 2023


    Keep those articles coming. Merry Christmas and best wishes for the upcoming new year.

  2. James

    Always enjoy your writing. A lots of action and information. Have a happy and healthy holiday.

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