Moriches Baysics

by Mark Gustavson

Moriches Bay and its rivers, creeks and coves is the smallest and shallowest of the chain of south shore of Long Island bays. The shallow aspect carries with it some good and some bad.  The good is there are deep channels that lie adjacent to very shallow water making great structure for stripers to ambush prey.  The bad is as summer progresses the water can really heat up and in turn will keep the bass away from the shores of the northern parts of the bay and most parts that are not near the inlet.  In addition, there is heavy boat traffic during the boating season and this activity will usually sound the fish for most of the day on the weekend.  One successful solution is to fish at night or, if possible, fish daytime during the week.

There are three sources of sea water that feed the bay:  Moriches Inlet, the Great South Bay and Shinnecock Bay.  Striped bass can be found where Moriches Bay meets these three sources.  As one will see, these three areas are quite different from one another.  The structure is different, as well as water temperature and the methods to work.

The inlet is a complex of deep fast moving water with an east and west jetty.  As the water enters the Moriches Inletbay it follows two channels or "cuts".  The east cut runs along Cupsogue Beach, follows the "Elbow" into a channel with flats on either side and meets the main channel at buoy #24.  The west cut flows past Great Gun Beach where there are also flats and sandbars.  This channel, too, eventually connects to the main channel at Can #16.  The east and west cuts are deep channels that are adjacent to sloughs, flats and sandbars.  Moving a bit further away there are flats that meet more deep water.  This water is unbelievably clear.  Most of the time one can see bottom detail in water that is 15 feet deep.  The bottom is white sand and this area can look like a tropical flats on bright and clear summer days.  This area of the bay contains excellent structure for stripers as well as fluke.

The connection with Shinnecock Bay involves a series of bridges crossing narrow canels in West Hampton.  Before and after the vacation season this area is quiet and can produce big time.

The connection with the Great South Bay is divided by the Smith's Point Bridge (Click on the image ofSmith's Point Bridge Smith's Point Bridge to get realtime tide and water temperature information)Though this area is fished mostly for fluke, flounder as well as blues and weakfish, stripers will be around throughout the season and especially in the fall.  There are some deep holes that can only be accessed by either boat or kayak but one can wade the shore that is behind the beach parking lot.

Freshwater enters the bay by way of the many feeder creeks that lie all along the northern side.  These vary in size and are always worth a try at the right times.  They are also the source of fertilizer (nitrogen) run-off.  As summer progresses so does the growth of sea-lettuce (ulva) and other vegetation near the shore.  As the tide changes and the flow begins to move, islands of fresh plant matter will make fishing difficult and at night it can be treacherous for the wading fisherman as  12-foot patches float by or worse float by below the water at ankle height.  Always be aware of your surroundings.


Copyright 2004 by Mark Gustavson

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