Bay/NY Bight Weakfish�
By Rich Johnson
couple of seasons, have seen the quiet resurgence of weakfishing in the Jamaica Bay and NY
Bight areas. Readers may have picked up on it in the fishing reports from my radio show, The
Fishing Line and unless youve been living in
a cave, the word weakfish has spread around the
entire Island as well. The Cynoscion regalis,
or squeteague as its sometimes called, has been making a quiet comeback of late and
the action should be red hot this year too.
HOT SPOTS. The Floyd Bennett Field area is very
good for incoming action and the world famous
Silver Hole of Jamaica Bay is better on the outgoing tides. However, nothing is set in
stone and it pays to go against the rules once in a while. The southeastern tip of Floyd
Bennett Field, just a couple of hundred yards from the Marine Parkway Bridge is a dynamite
area just 100 yards uptide from the first of two, eastern facing ramps.
the beach to the north, closer to the second of the eastern ramps around the #5 can
(green), the water is much deeper, close to 40 feet! The #13 buoy (green) that heads the
way on the turn north into Mill Basin, Brooklyn is also another spot you have to try.
Raritan East Channel in Raritan Bay and the Sandy Hook Channel in Sandy Hook are both
excellent areas for weakfish too! Here look for them to be stacked up on the channel edges
from 15 to 35-foot of water. Worms or diamond jigs will catch tiderunner weaks here.
weakfish here tend to stack up in the deeper holes of the bay, 40 to 50 feet and more, the
tackle choice needs to be a touch stouter in nature. Most anglers to the east are used to
light tackle outfits and bucktailing shallow water for weakfish in the State Channel. In some areas we fished with as little as four
ounces of lead and other areas where the current moves, as much as six or seven ounces are
needed. This can be particularly true around the new or full moon periods. For the most
part though, weakfish here want meat, a.k.a.
large sandworms, so light tackle anglers may want to keep the limber stuff and their
bucktails at home.
seven-foot Seeker or Fenwick rods. They could translate to heavy-duty freshwater musky
rods as well, with line recommendations of 15 to 40-pound test. In saltwater terms, I
would rate it as medium action along the lines of a deep-water fluke outfit. These rods
allow me the sensitivity to feel even the slightest weakfish nibble and enough backbone to
handle roaming bluefish and bass. However, these rods have a lighter tips than a deep
water sinker bouncing rod used for sea bass & blackfish. As for reels and line, I
choose the Abu-Garcia Ambassaduers like the 5600 and 6500 ultra cast series spooled with
12 to 15-pound test Berkley Big Game line.
RIGGING. If you have been weakfishing for any
length of time, youre probably familiar with the 3X3 rig. A three way swivel with
three feet to the sinker and three feet of leader to the hook. In this neck of the woods,
the 3X3 is thrown out the window completely. In the Jamaica Bay and Floyd Bennett area
they use a completely different rig. This is
custom tied by the thousands at Capt. Hooks B&T in Howard Beach and is also available
at Smittys Fishing Station in Broad Channel.
length of the entire rig is only 25 inches from barrel swivel to sinker snap. The leadered
hook is only 15 inches above the sinker and the hook is only seven to eight inches from
the leader rig. This rig offers less chance of a pick up and swimming three feet before
you feel the fish. With this shortened leader to the hook, no matter which direction the
fish turns, you feel the bite instantly, giving you more hook setting chances, thus
increasing your catch rate.
the rig slightly when fish feed higher in the water column. The only change is the
placement of the leadered hook up in the water column, taking advantage of feeding fish.
The baited hook is now three to four feet up the rig and off the bottom. The key here is
the same seven to eight inches of leeway a fish has to swim after taking the bait. With
both of these rigs, I find no missed strikes or pickups and the only time you may
lose a fish, is because the fish only had the tail end of the very large sandworms we were
Weakfishing in this area will last through September and if the weather and
water temperatures hold, into early October. When weakfishing with this amount of action,
dont sell yourself short. Make sure you bring at least a flat of sandworms.
Youll save money buying them this way and wont have to make an unnecessary
trips back to the bait shop.
If you have
some left over, make sure you change the paper in the bottom of the flat and store them in
the refrigerator at home. Remember, there is a six fish bag limit with a 16-inch minimum
size in NY waters. When action is this good, dont settle for 16 inchers, sort
through them and youll find those 4 to 7 pounders! See you on the water!