2010-02-19 / Sports

Rockaway Outdoors/Tales From The Wheelhouse

By Captain Vinnie Calabro

Picture contest: Be the first to name this covert anglers identity and win a free bunker. Picture contest: Be the first to name this covert anglers identity and win a free bunker. On the home front fishing has been tough, as of late. Winter storms, snowfall and the downside of the moon handicapped local anglers. Montauk also had its share of bad weather but years of experience and a much bigger body of fish enabled those who made the trip able to put together a catch.

That’s to be expected. The cod fishing locally will never be Montauk. Even during its heyday there was no comparison. That’s just the way the rod bends, and why, in the world of diehards, Montauk is the joint.

April 15 seems like an eternity away but even as I write the days are getting longer. April 15 is the opening day for striped bass in New York. The remainder of this column will spotlight Jamaica Bay and one area in particular being the south radar pier. The south pier and subsequent bordering shorelines is a favorite spot of mine early in the season.

Flanked to the southeast by Inwood Park and the surrounding shore, bass and baitfish invade this area fairly early in the season. It has always been the first spot I see bunker schools often as early as the end of March.

Bass cruise the warmer water of the shallows and lethargically feed on whatever the tidal flow washes their way. Here shorebound fishermen can cast artificials, bucktails and soft baits among the channel edges and islands dotting the area. Inwood Park has its own perennial cadre of anglers magically appearing every year just as the bass arrive. They multiply as do the fish so that’s a good place to keep an eye on.

The radar pier, itself a wooden structure long past its prime, attracts baitfish and bass alike. The aging timbers riddled with drill marks from sea worms and copious amounts of growth are a dinner table themselves.

The pier can be fished many ways and often there is a ready supply of bunker cruising in and out. From the pier due west toward Jelchos Marsh, the banks are another good early spot, the many cuts and drains along its banks are a favorite haunt of bass and weakfish.

Rounding the northwest point of these banks and you’ll see a green buoy, this marks the beginning of “Silver Hole” a deeper area and channel edge that also produces fish.

It’s easy to see how Jamaica Bay has in its sheltered waters a fairly diverse bottom. Structure both man made and natural provide fishermen with an abundance of areas to target.

I’ll be at east on Saturday speaking on striped bass at the Salt Water Sportsman educational seminar. If you’re around pop by and say Until the next tide…

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