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June Brings Consistency To The Inshore Bite

June Brings Consistency To The Inshore Bite

Early spring may be when fishing blossoms across the East End of Long Island, but it’s June that brings consistency to the catches. With water temperatures pushing their way above the 60-degree mark, just about all of the favored local species from porgies to stripers settle into more predictable patterns, display an obvious preference for selected tidal stages, and prowl waters ranging from back bays to the near-shore ocean. 

From Riverhead to Montauk and Orient Points, June finds bottom fish lighting-up and stripers hitting everything from surface poppers inside the bays to live-lined bunker a mile or more off the beach. In short, this is a time of plenty on the water, so you’ll want to carve out some extra space in your schedule to hit your favorite honey holes and put some fillets in the freezer.

Big porgies are on the menu all this month across the East End. This huge Peconic Bay pork chop was caught a few years back by Capt. John Catapano aboard the open boat Shinnecock Star. OutdoorTom.com photo

Already, the 2024 season seems to be off to a solid start. Porgy fishing was a bit sluggish as it opened but hit stride by mid-May and should be on fire as you read this. Weakfish arrived on the scene earlier than in recent years with scatterings from Flanders Bay to Bug Light by the first week of May. They should be done spawning now and ready for some serious binge feeding. Bluefish are already a force to be reckoned with in Peconic and Shinnecock bays and have surprised some striper fans in Long Island Sound waters as well. Fluke, meanwhile, seem somewhat more agreeable this year than last. While action with the summer flatties is still likely to be a grind, there have been enough keepers already decked to make targeting them on opportune tides worthy of consideration.

Fluke action between The Forks is off to a better start than most anglers would have anticipated this year. Be sure to take a few drifts for the tasty summer flatties this June. OutdoorTom.com photo.

Of course, before you head out in search of your favorite species, you’ll want to make sure you enroll in the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry and check out the 2024 NYS saltwater fishing regulations. Of the latter, note there are changes for both porgy (scup) and fluke (summer flounder). For porgies, the minimum size for shore-based catches is 9.5” while vessel-caught fish must now measure at least 11”. The creel limit is 30 per angler from May 1 – December 31, with 40 fish per angler allowed for those fishing aboard licensed party/charter boats from September 1 – October 31. Fluke now have a split season with a minimum size limit of 19” from May 4 – August 1 and 19.5” from August 2 – October 15. The creel limit for the summer flatties is three per angler throughout the open season. 

Small bucktails tipped with Berkley Gulp! can serve triple-duty with fluke, weakfish and big porgies when fishing in relatively shallow water on Peconic and Shinnecock flats during June. OutdoorTom.com photo.

Porgy fishing should be a no-brainer this month with tasty scup available on both sand and moderately rocky bottom in the Peconics and along the North Fork. For much of June you’ll find plenty of action in relatively shallow water ranging from ten to 30’ depths and a quiet approach can have a dramatic positive impact on your catches. As June advances and waters continue to warm, expect the scup to move into deeper holes and pockets such as those found around Jessup Neck on Peconic Bay and along the slopes and channel edges off Greenport, Shelter Island and Sag Harbor.

June porgy action is usually pretty solid along the North Fork a mile or two east of Mattituck, too, and on the northwest and southwest corners of Robins and Shelter islands in Peconic Bay. For a shot at some really big pork chops, consider a run further east to the south side of Gardiners Island. Slices of clam or small strips of squid will score with porgies both shallow and deep if fished on a 2-hook Jigging World Porgy Rig. You can expect to see some scup measuring upwards of 14” on most vessel trips these days, so it makes sense to be discerning as to what you actually creel.

The same areas that hold big scup are also good bets for connecting with weakfish. Jessup Neck and Noyack Bay have been the hot spots in recent years but it’s also worth exploring other areas of the Peconic Estuary such as Rodgers Rock, Southold Bay, and the channels around Bug Light where the competition might be less intense and the fish less skittish. Small bucktails tipped with squid and ¾- to 2-ounce tubeless diamond jigs work well. For mixed-bag action, a simple hi-low rig baited with a piece of clam on the bottom and squid strip above is all you’ll need to connect once the bite gets rolling.

 Most fluke fans realize that action with the summer flatties has been tough for the past several years, but a decent bite late last season, coupled with some surprisingly fair catches so far this spring, bring hope for banking at least a few flattie fillets during June.

For serious doormat hunters, the Peconic Bay stretch running from just west of the Shelter Island Ferry to the deeper channels in the vicinity of Bug Light is a convenient starting point. June also sees summer flatties showing up in Long Island Sound from Mattituck to Hortons Point, and south of Montauk Point as well. Stout tackle and 4- to 8-ounce sinkers are the rule both in the Greenport area and at The End due to the strong currents and significant depths. For bait, Berkley Gulp! Swimming Mullets and Pink Shine Berkley Gulp! Saltwater Jerk Shads, along with long strips of squid, whole squid or thin pennants of sea robin and bluefish, all have their followings. 

Fluke are also on the menu this month inside Shinnecock Bay. Here, shallow water action along the flats – both east and west of Ponquogue Bridge – are worth probing with light tackle. Start with a white, chartreuse or hot pink Spro Prime or S & S Big Eye Bucktail in the ¾- to 1-ounce range, tipped with your favorite Berkley weapon of choice. If the current is pushing hard you may need to go to a 2-ounce or greater-sized bucktail and adjust your bait size/length accordingly.

The fluke bite at Montauk may actually be your best bet for a late June mini-doormat. Here, your odds of hooking a 4- to 6-pounder are probably higher than anywhere else in our area these days. The action usually starts south and west of Montauk Point in fairly shallow water before progressing to depths of 50’ to 80’ by mid-summer when even larger flatties become a distinct possibility. 

Hit the back bay flats in early June for fun action with stripers that can range from schoolies to keepers. OutdoorTom.com photo.

As for stripers, they should be settling into most of your early season East End honey holes right now. When June tides begin to ebb the action can be downright chaotic, explosive and surprisingly long-lived. There are days in the bays now when you simply can’t miss with soft-plastic swim baits including Joe Baggs Freedom Fish and Al Gag’s Whip-It Fish. Light tins like a Hopkins No-Eql single-hook bucktail diamond jig also score well in the back-bay waters of Shinnecock Bay or eastern quadrant of the Peconics. For even more fun with the bass, consider chucking surface plugs including Super Strike Little Neck Poppers, Doc Spooks, and Gibbs or Cotton Cordell Pencil Poppers. Be sure to crush down your barbs for easy releases, especially if yellow-eyed demons are in the mix. 

Of course, if it’s catch-and-release action with “over-slot” bass you crave, live-lining around bunker pods is tough to beat. Set up with a White Water Pro Fluorocarbon Striped Bass Live Bait Rig, head out of the inlet and a mile or two down the beach either east or west, and you should be sitting pretty. Hitting the east jetty of Shinnecock Inlet or working the ocean surf after dark are also big-fish options, as is taking a run to bucktail the rips north and east of Orient Point.

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  • Bryce Poyer