It was a long day yesterday for our full day shark trip–unfortunately, they wouldn’t cooperate and didn’t have drift conditions, just flat calm seas! That’s the way the cookie crumbles some days.
The evening trips for Jason and Dan produced different results with all types of species. We had a limit of jumbo seabass, a bunch of mega size scup, some blues and stripers that we’re either too big or way too small and not in the slot size. But still an awesome evening- thanks guys enjoy the filets! Call the My Joyce for availability at 516-641-2138.
It’ not every day that a Thresher Shark chomps on a sea bass being reeled it. But it appears it happened recently on the Blackhawk II. Today started out as the usual sea bass and porgy trip- then we had a hungry visitor! It’s not every day a party boat pulls in a thresher shark of this size!
Traditionally, porgy fishing brings to mind idyllic summer afternoons onboard an anchored boat; chum logs deployed, hi-lo rigs baited with sandworms or salted clam, waiting for the sharp tug of a larger fish amidst the swarming of countless pin-sized porgies. It’s rarely thought of as an “active” form of angling, and while the fish themselves can be described as “scrappy for their size,” the fight – such as it were – will rarely put a deep bend into the typical outfits used by porgy fisherman all over the northeast: conventional rods capable of slinging 3oz+ sinkers.
When I started pursuing porgy from my kayak back in 2016, my background as a freshwater bass angler naturally led me to experiment with various artificial lures for all the local saltwater species. Happily, I quickly discovered that porgies not only chased down small metal jigs and soft plastics with aplomb, but the right presentation will often cull out the biggest, strongest, baddest porgy out of a school. Furthermore, on appropriate tackle, they will certainly test your drag and knots and even proper rod angles during the fight, fulfilling their role – as a friend once put it – of “freshwater panfish on crack.”
Here’s a challenging way to catch porgy on light tackle. Best Bait for porgy
THE BEST PORGY BAITS
It’s no surprise that porgies will be drawn to small Berkley Gulp baits, such as the 3″ Mullet and 3″ Minnow. I generally fish these as trailers on the back of small, 1/4oz bucktails or plain ball head jigs. If the area you’re fishing is particularly snaggy, a drop-shot or dropper loop setup will work just fine. Either way, the water-based scent trail of Gulp will certainly draw in porgies from afar, and you will catch a mess of them in short order. The problem with using Gulp baits and other soft plastic lures for porgy is, like real bait, you have to change bait often. They get ripped up and pulled off the hook easily, and in the case of Gulp, you need to keep them in their original packaging or some sort of watertight container, otherwise, they dry out into a shriveled jerky.
The next option is small metal jigs, anywhere from 1/4 – 1oz, worked in small lifts and drops along the bottom, will get absolutely smashed by porgy. They are drawn to shiny objects, and no bait or gulp is necessary; in fact, “tipping” the jigs with bait or even gulp will often draw in smaller porgies to your offering. I have a theory that once a porgy reaches a certain size (say, 15″+), small baitfish comprise a significant portion of their natural diet. And few artificial lures mimic a fleeing or injured minnow as accurately as a fluttering metal spoon or jig. The drawback to using metal jigs and spoons is they create a horrible line twist, a fact that any trout fisherman can attest to. They will spin both on the upswing and on the fall, and if you’re using spinning gear they will inevitably create a mass of line twist that has to be dealt with sooner or later. They are also extremely snaggy, and you can expect to lose several of them to the bottom over the course of a day.
Rapala Slab Rap
And so finally we come to the perfect artificial lure for porgies, the only lure I bring to target these big summertime brutes – the Rapala Slab Rap (2”, SLR05). It’s originally an ice-fishing bait meant for crappies, perch, and walleye, but the profile, size, weight, and balance lends itself perfectly to shallow water porgy jigging. Made from a strong and durable ABS plastic, it is a kind of vibrating lipless crankbait (though w/o rattles), heavy for its size and most importantly, swims straight and true without tumbling through the water like metal jigs and spoons, creating virtually no line twist, and with a slight modification, are extremely snag resistant as well.
You can fish them out of the box, but I strongly recommend a couple of modifications.
Replace the tiny treble hooks with Owner #2 Single Replacement hooks. Also swap out the weak split rings with #2 Owner Hyperwire Split Rings. Porgies will fight 3x harder than any freshwater fish of similar size, and will trash those stock hardware in no time.
Replace the split ring at the line tie with a strong snap. I recommend the Decoy Egg Snap in size 1.
Generally I only equip the Slab Rap with a single tail hook. This reduces your chances of snagging the bottom almost to zero. In the 3+ years I’ve used the lure in this configuration, I’ve lost only 1 to the rock gods.
In terms of color, my favorites are the Glow Hot Perch and Glow Yellow Perch. The shiny colors (like Chrome or Clown) on the Slab Rap do not stand up to the rigors of porgy fishing. They start to flake off within the first few fish, and although they will continue to catch, the matt finishes hold up for an entire season or more of chasing slab porgies to no ill effect.
The proper rod reel and line setup is critical for this form of light tackle porgy fishing.
The perfect rod will have a light, fast, sensitive tip to pick up the rather subtle pecking of even large porgies, and have enough backbone to penetrate their jaws on the hookset. Any freshwater spinning rod designated as “dropshot” rods will do the job. They need to be soft and light enough to absorb the characteristic “pumping” porgies do during the fight, and protect your hook from ripping out of their mouths. Often they are barely skin hooked.
Two rods I recommend are the Shimano Zodias 6’8L or ML, and the new Daiwa Rebellion 7’ML. Another worthy candidate is the Shimano Curado 6’10ML.
1000 – 2500 reels with a smooth drag system is essential. As mentioned, many times the biggest porgies will bump and slash at your bait, and wind up getting barely skin hooked; this calls for a smooth drag that can react to any sudden surges during the fight.
Two reels I recommend are the Shimano Stradic FL 1000 and 2500, and the Daiwa Tatula LT 2000.
With any spinning combo, I’ve gone entirely to braid to leader setups. The braid absorbs the inevitable twists caused by spinning tackle, will cast farther and give you much fewer headaches than using straight fluorocarbon or mono. 8 – 10lb, high visibility braid so you can use your line as strike indicators, connected via an alberto or FG knot to a 6-10ft length of 8lb fluorocarbon leader is the configuration I run on all my light spinning combos.
For a high vis braid, I recommend 8lb Daiwa J Braid x8, in chartreuse.
For leader material, the Seaguar STS in 8lb is extremely abrasion-resistant and economical.
THE METHOD FOR FISHING PORGY
Although I’ve caught porgies with my slab rap setup in upwards of 30ft, it’s a technique best suited for mid to late Summer into Fall, when the biggest porgy venture into the shallow rocky areas that dot Long Island Sound. With a kayak, and especially one with a pedal drive system, I can work over these expansive flats and island chain shorelines methodically, locating schools of quality fish, plucking a few choice specimens and moving on to the next school. It’s a far cry from anchoring up and chumming…and not only maximizes the fun factor, it accounts for an inordinate number of 17”+ fish.
If you have a sonar unit on your kayak or boat, it pays to look for vertical hard structure. Pieces that will hold tog in the Fall will hold porgies throughout summer. The sweet spot for me is vertical rocky formations that sit between 8 and 15ft. These can be edges of reefs, big boulders, or rock spines. Most porgies will set up on the leeward side of structure in current, and roam a bit more during slack current. They rarely break cover or leave bottom to chase a lure, so you must present your lure with precision.
USING A SLAB RAP
There are 2 main methods to working your slab rap. One is the short pitch cast, almost a vertical presentation, where you flip the bait out over deeper water (8-15ft), let it settle on the bottom, and start jigging it back to the boat or kayak. Once vertical you can jig it in place under the boat, paying attention to the fall; that is when 99% of your bites will come. In swifter current I let the slab rap fall on semi slack line, watching the bow in my braid for any ticks or twitches. When you see a strike in your line, set the hook immediately; it is invariably a porgy slashing at your bait!
The other method is casting your slab rap out, letting it settle to the bottom, and using your reel to impart all the action. Keep your rod tip low, and give 2-3 quick pumps of the reel handle. Then let the lure fall on tight line, and feel for any bites. When it’s very windy, this method keeps your braid out of the wind, and keeps you more connected to your lure. Since your rod tip is low and your line tight, you can react to any bites with a lightning quick hookset.
TIDES AND STRUCTURE
During high tide, some of the largest porgies will swim right into the shallowest rock structure along the shoreline or over isolated rocks, no more than 3 or 4ft deep. They will always hold tight to rocks, and short pitches past the target will pull out some truly big fish. Often these shallow porgies will take on a dark, almost gun-metal coloration, and in my opinion they fight harder than their deeper water cousins.
Make sure your drag is set appropriately light; it doesn’t take much for that Owner single hook to penetrate. More so than your 8lb leader breaking, it’s to protect that hook from pulling out of the fish’s mouth, and as mentioned a surprising number of porgies will be either skin hooked or hooked outside the jaws. The good news is, unlike their much smarter brethren the tog, even the biggest porgies rarely make a concerted effort to sound bottom. They fight gamely, but without much purpose, and of the countless big porgies I’ve brought to the net I can think of only a handful that successfully broke me off in rocks.
Set the hook, keep your line tight, and let your rod and drag do the work. In our neck of the woods, there are no other species that will provide as much fun on light tackle as the mighty porgy.
And don’t forget to check your local fishing regulations as things vary from state to state and month to month
Headed outta Jones with the boys and nailed a good one. Jumped twice and put on a show! Had all different baits but this guy took the old faithful bunker. We finished up our chum and we were about to pull then BAM we’re on! The rest is history and delicious steaks on the grill!
My Joyce III Montauk, NY We had a great afternoon yesterday with the Street family. There were tons of jig action, with plenty of short stripers and big blues. The rods were bent all afternoon! A nice trip to get the ball rolling! Call My Joyce Charters for availability at
At Ponquogue it went from lights-out fishing to slim pickings, then back to a solid bite again – with a little chaos mixed in – all in a span of about 5 days. How’s that for a report? I’ll call it hit-or-miss. The fishing was great until a surge of newbies and out-of-towners arrived and really changed the tone of the place at night, and not for the better. Police showed up to ensure that only those with valid permits were there. I would suggest to the intrepid angler who’s arriving for their tide with the crowd and taking a position on the bridge for the next 3 hours to step away from the crowd and walk the bay beach eastward. There are a lot of nice stripers to be had that will ensure both a good fight and some social distance. Same goes for Ponquogue ocean beach; a short walk east from the pavillion provides a mile of surf casting opportunity. So the fishing around Ponquogue (bridge and ocean beach) is hit-or-miss. It’s "hit" if you pay attention to the tides, and it’s "miss" if you just show up. The real estate around there right now is too valuable of a commodity for me to just give up my most productive tide, but I can say that trolling a crystal minnow got me the fish I had on this last trip – 8 bass up to 28 inches and 2 cocktail blues.
I consider myself fortunate in a lot of ways, not the least of which is that most recently I am able to pursue my favorite activity largely unaffected by closures and personal distance restrictions. (Misfit Kayak Fishing Team has proudly been socially distant for over a decade now .) Anyway, this past weekend being the anniversary of the Jamaica Bay Kayak Fishing Tournament (the weekend after Mothers Day was not chosen by accident), the team planned to make a showing as we have every year.
We all met each other years ago at the tournament before I started guiding for Jerry at Captain Kayak (who later sponsored and organized the tournament). While we always arrived with intentions of non-stop fishing and visions of kayak fishing fame and glory, what we invariably got as well was intoxicated and over-fed on BBQ. By the end of a three-day tournament, it wasn’t so much about the fishing anymore. It was just nice to be surrounded by like minded individuals at a time when kayak fishing was arguably first getting popular as an everyman’s thing. Tournaments came and tournaments went over the years and it was always JBay because there weren’t a lot of options as far as kayak fishing tournaments in the northeast. All of that changed That changed over the last decade and now the repurposed milk crate outfit that my buddy Pete made – at the time so novel an idea that it was featured in a magazine article – is now sold by Hobie for about $50. Our mindset did not change regarding the tournaments, which were primarily a reason to camp, fish and socialize. Until Jerry decided to retire from retirement and the (official) tournament ended, Misfit Kayak Fishing Team had no reason to try very hard. It was just fun. Without a centrally located tournament though, it got harder for all of us to get to connect, and last year I joined the Striper Cup in the Hobie World Qualifier. Jerry closed the kayak rental and and so I figured I would have time to test my mettle and see how well I could do when I really tried. The top 10 were in a raffle for a $5000 kayak, and the winner was flown to compete in the Hobie Kayak Fishing World Championship. My efforts were the inspiration for a post back in September that chronicled the months I spent fishing "hard."
It changed me, because it forced me to answer some hard questions; How "hard" is too hard to fish? Do I make myself go out into a cold rainy night when I don’t want to – just because the tide is right and I know I’ll catch? What social events are OK to miss because you know that you will catch a 30-lb fish if you go? Are your friends your competition now, if they’re in the same tournament? It was a season-long competition, so the question raised was always "Am I missing something by not being out there?" I’ve "willed" myself out of bed at 3am often enough to answer that in the affirmative. The real question becomes "Is it worth it?" After a lot of soul searching and a lot of fishing, I found peace with myself regarding those questions, even as that tension remains today. This year circumstances have enabled me to join other tournaments. With different structures that raise still more questions. Who knew catching fish from a floating piece of plastic could be so philosophical? Should I fish Anyhow? One of the tournaments that rewards total lengths of all fish caught has me taking pictures (the only way to do it) of every fish. On a good night, that could easily be 30 fish. Even with a 10-fish-per-day limit. I have to ask myself "Is it worth it to drift away from a hot bite as you spend the next 5-10 minutes trying to secure a fish in your lap in a kayak to get a picture? That thought came into sharp focus the evening that I found myself actually thinking about NOT fishing because my camera (phone) wasn’t charged. That moment, that night, made me realize that I wasn’t thinking right. I’d gone "tournamental," and had forgotten why I was there. OK, that’s ridiculous and I was ashamed to be thinking that way, but what if it’s a blitz and I’m marking bigger fish? Do I take the picture of the 28 incher and bank some points or keep fishing? I was able to answer these questions the same way that I was able to solve my moral dilemma.
I was able to answer these questions the same way I ultimately answered them last summer; with a renewed commitment to keeping it "social" (I don’t need the fish) and a pause for the thought "Will I be happy with myself afterward?" Don’t get me wrong; I take my kayak fishing seriously, not just because details make the difference between catching fish and not, but because in kayak fishing details are the difference between getting back and not. But when it comes to fishing with a sense of purpose, there have to be limitations. Limitations are personal. The Fishing Report That brings me (finally) to the fishing report part of this. Half of Misfit Kayak Fishing Team made it to JBay for the annual get-together. We fished Friday and Saturday and conditions were great. I was surprised by a couple of things: Happily, the presence of a lot of horseshoe crabs and bait but sadly no other kayak fishermen.
Hopefully it will not be the end of an era and someone will step up and keep the tournament going. My "competition" this weekend was my teammate Pistol Pete Kelly. I outfished him by a sea robin on Friday, each of us landing four bass, and he outfished me by 3 bass the next day. Pete had the right tool for the job and even though I was drifting into 30-pound stripers, Pete was the one who brought the sand worms they were feeding on. Rule one: match the hatch. Pete had bass up to 34 inches and my biggest was only about 25.
At the end of the day, it was not unlike the ten years that preceded this weekend. Me and Pete knocking back a couple of cold ones after a great day on the water. We got our priorities right.
Fisht three separate lakes this morning that I know we’re stocked last Thursday lots of people fishing only me and one other person caught, him a nice big brown and me a small rainbow. Between the bucket brigade and the cormorants not many fish left. Wish we could use those birds for target practice.
Here is a case where an organized and united group of anglers and the industry could influence the state/feds to open up tackle shops. I’m sorry if a liquor store is considered "essential" than so is the tackle shop. How many DWI’s will a tackle shop cause? What anglers enjoy fishing right next to others? It sure won’t be an issue keeping 10-people in at a time. I said this on my latest podcast and I truly believe that anglers will flock to the water and the outdoors. We can all hide in our secrete spots and easily keep a distance. It’s inherent in fishing. We want seclusion. I know I do.
I hate the term "social distancing." It should be coined "physical distancing. We want to and need to be social nowadays.
There are many of us that enjoy the solace fishing, more so than a drink. Anglers naturally keep a physical difference, and we spend a lot of money on our sport!
I know we’re in unchartered waters, but getting people outdoors seems like a no brainer to me.
Fishing Safely This Season
New York State is open for fishing and DEC encourages anglers to recreate locally at a nearby waterbody. New York’s lakes and streams offer great opportunities for fishing in a wide array of settings across the state. Even during the current COVID-19 public health crisis, getting outdoors and connecting with nature while angling in New York’s waters is a great way to help maintain mental and physical health. Please continue to follow the CDC/New York State Department of Health guidelines for preventing the spread of colds, flu, and COVID-19:
Try to keep at least six feet of distance between you and others.
Avoid close contact, such as shaking hands.
Wash hands often or use a hand sanitizer when soap and water are not available.
Avoid surfaces that are touched often, such as doorknobs, handrails, and playground equipment.
When fishing, DEC recommends avoiding busy waters and following the guidelines on DEC’s website about fishing responsibly in New York State. If an angler arrives at a parking lot and there are several cars, they should consider going to another parking lot. If an angler is fishing upstream, they should fish downstream of the other angler or consider fishing another day. Anglers fishing from boats should always be able to maintain at least six feet of distance between one another. For more information about the benefits of being outdoors safely and responsibly, go to DEC’s website. Charters and Guides The "New York State on PAUSE" Executive Order, a 10-point policy to assure uniform safety for everyone during the COVID-19 response, includes a directive that all non-essential businesses statewide must close effective at 8 p.m. on Sunday, March 22, and temporarily bans all non-essential gatherings of individuals of any size for any reason. At this time, fishing guides or charters of any size have been determined to be not essential and are subject to workforce reduction requirements of the Executive Order. The full and updated guidance on which types of businesses are determined essential and other designations associated with the order can be found online.
Togs are chewing away! At this point, most reports we’re getting are that blackish are chewing well in 47-48 degree water temps, in shallow water. It’s blowing pretty strong out there today so we don’t expect to get many more.
Cooper is all smiles while getting in on the April tautog season.
@cooper.bohner on some nice spring time tog 💪🏼
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