The Rockaway Times cast a wide net to catch the who’s who of local fishermen/women to find out about the best fishing spots on the peninsula and Broad Channel. Get your rods ready, as our local fabulous king fish serve up all that is delish and special about fishing on our shores.
According to Far Rockaway resident, Luis Love, Beach 17th to the first jetty on Beach 30th offers the best catch due to the inlet between Atlantic Beach and the east end of the peninsula. “I’ve been fishing since I was five years old. My dad and I used to take old beer cans, find an old hook in the sand and tie them up with dirty string to go fishing. I’ve fished in Broad Channel and other parts of the peninsula, but in my opinion, Far Rock is the best.
“Over here we catch albacore, especially at this time because they like the warmer water. Also snappers, which are baby blue fish, which mature into snappers after they grow over 12 inches and are referred to as cocktails. Then after they grow over 20 inches, they become blue fish. Towards October to November, we get the big stripers. They come in to feed on the bait because winter is coming, and they are looking for warm water. I have caught stripers here 53in long. At night, you have people coming out looking to catch sharks. September is when you see all the fishermen with their poles lining the shore,” Love said.
Love said he prefers surf fishing, which is the sport of catching fish standing on the shoreline or wading in the surf. “It’s more of a fight compared to fishing on a boat, which I think is easier. To catch fish from the shore, we use metal jigs and poppers as bait. The poppers bounce up and down, mimicking a fish, and the big fish come in and attack it, and we reel them in. The jigs mimic the baby bunker because they shine in the water, which the big fish go after.”
Tom McNicholas of Rockaway's oldest bait shop, Tom’s Bait and Tackle on Beach Channel Drive, is the source of everything fishing in Rockaway. Whether you're coming in to talk about the weather, get gas for your boat, grab some bait, fishing advice or a cup of joe, McNicolas serves up great service and even better conversation. According to McNicholas, around this time you can catch good-size porgies. “It’s been the best porgies I have seen in years. Also fluke and flounder, especially in the spring months of April and May. Boat fishing on the Bay is great,” McNicholas said. As a customer walked in inquiring about how to get a fishing license, he warned, “Get it now! Don’t let the cops catch you fishing without one. If you catch a fish that’s out of season or too small, they will fine you with a hefty ticket."
Robert Ostacio and a group of friends, hailing from Brooklyn, were fishing on the bay wall near Tom’s since 6:30 a.m. that day. Unfortunately, all they caught after three hours were two medium-sized porgies. “I have been fishing here at this location for over 50 years, and this summer has been the worst. It could be because of the warmer water temperatures, which lowers the oxygen level in the water, or the wakes caused by the Ferry. But anyway, I love fishing in Rockaway,” Ostacio said.
Seasoned sea dog, Jennifer O’Brien, fishing from her boat in Long Island and Rockaway since 1980, agreed. “Fishing in Rockaway is great, but I think the fish are being depleted because of the draggers (commercial fishing vessels). Also contributing to the slow down in catch is global climate change, plastic bags, which choke the fish and the rising acidity in the water. Also warmer temps in the water are changing the currents, also there is less marshland to filter the water.”
Broad Channel bay man, Kenny Monahan, disagrees. “I have been fishing in the bay since I was three years old. The fishing this year has been great. It’s either because the water got cleaner or the fish got more adaptable,” Monahan said. He coins BC as the Irish Keys. “My family has been living and fishing here for over a century. The average depth of the water in the bay is 31 feet, which is fertile ground to catch black fish and fluke. Sharks spawn in the bay. Fishing is second nature for my family. My mom used to take us out at night to jack for crabs, which we used to sell. We either fished or caught crabs for our dinner, or to sell to support the family.” Monahan’s eyes started to tear as he talked about his love for BC and the bay. “I’m a Pisces man. We are known for being emotional. But I love where I live, and my family’s history here. Turning people on to how beautiful our bay is and the great fishing here, gives me an awesome feeling. Every year, the fishing changes. However, the bait comes back, the big fish come back and the people come back,” Monahan said.
Eddy Pastore of Rockaway Beach said his biggest draw to moving to Rockaway was the fishing in Breezy Point. However note that in Breezy, you have to get a permit to fish there, and they only issue 750 permits a year. Pastore said, “From the beginning of October, everyone knows that’s my fishing time. My trophy fish is striped bass. I love fishing in Breezy because you feel that you are not in NYC. It's like you're in a different world, where you have tranquility. It’s just you and the fish.”
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