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Sheepshead Bay Fish

The Midnight Fleet supplies spearing for bait, but it is always a good idea to bring some squid along for the trip. If you don’t get any bites, you might want to change your squid strips and spearing.

Catching fluke is fairly simple – just drop your line to the bottom of the sea floor and lock your reel – but we know a few helpful tips to improve your day on the water. Be sure to bounce your sinker as the boat drifts along. Everyone can fish with a basic hook, sinker, and some bait, but real fishing enthusiasts might want to carry some artificial bait with them as well. Fluke are attracted to colors and will lock in on your grub if they spot a bright hue like white, chartreuse, purple, yellow or red. Slide the grubs (one and a half to two-inch grubs are best) up the hook shank to the eyelet and use them with your squid and spearing combo for best results.

Nobody likes a slow fishing day, but we know a few ways to create some ripples. For example, change grub colors until you find one that gets a response. Fish are like people – each one has its own favorite color! A great artificial bait to use is Berkley Saltwater Gulp. Look for the swimming minnows or mullet in three or four-inch sizes, white or chartreuse. We’ve seen people catch good numbers of fluke using this bait, especially the chartreuse color. Tip one of these gulps on a two to four-ounce Spro Bucktail and add a teaser hook to your rig. This has proven to be a deadly combination for catching fluke!

Try out these tips on a Midnight Fleet charter!

Blackfish are fighters – tough on tackle and excellent on the table. They are one of the best species available in the fall. Anglers are particularly successful from October through December when blackfish are concentrated in the greatest numbers along the shorelines. While Cape Cod boasts the best fishing, you can catch blackfish all along the Eastern Seaboard, from Cape Ann to Delaware.

We can catch blackfish from a boat at anchor or by casting anywhere along rocky shorelines. Anglers use bait such as sea worms, whole or halved crabs (green, whites, rocks, hermits, or fiddlers), and pieces of conch, snails, or cracked clams.

A rod with backbone is required to catch these battling fish. Most anglers choose a medium-action spinning or conventional rod with a 40 to 50-pound test line and use a no hardware, two hook rig with a sinker tied to the bottom.

It is important to stay alert and refrain from bouncing your sinker – fishing is all about being patient. Lower the bait into the water until it reaches the bottom. All slackline should be taken in as soon as the bait stops sinking. Once a fish picks up the bait, let it tap once or twice, and set the hook hard, lifting the blackfish away from the bottom before the fish goes back into the depths and the line becomes entangled in rocks.


The Midnight Fleet supplies clam for bait, but it is always a good idea to bring some squid along for the trip. Change out your clam and squid frequently if you don’t get any bites.

To catch black sea bass, drop your line to the bottom and bounce your sinker as the boat drifts along. You can catch black sea bass with a high-low rig, sinker, and some bait. Black sea bass also gravitate toward brightly colored bait (white, chartreuse, purple, yellow and red). Use swimming minnow bait along with your clam and squid to attract the fish. Keep switching colors until you find one that really works for you.

Striped bass eat a variety of foods, including alewives, flounder, sea herring, menhaden, sand lance, silver hake, tomcod, smelt, silversides, and eels, as well as lobsters, crabs, soft clams, small mussels, sea worms, and squid. They feed most actively at dusk and dawn, and sometimes midday as well. They tend to become more nocturnal during the middle of summer.

Angling after dusk or dawn provides the greatest success most of the season, but night fishing is often best during the summer. Anglers are most successful when fishing the shoreline in areas where tidal rips, strong currents or wave action create turbulent live water in temperatures ranging from 55 to 65 degrees.

When surf fishing the beaches with swimming plugs and live eels, many anglers prefer the 10 to 12-foot surf rod and conventional reel spooled with 30 to 40-pound test monofilament line. However, a medium to heavy spinning rod with 12 to 20-pound test monofilament line is considered ideal by many anglers for plugging, jigging or offering bottom fish baits to bass. Anglers attach lures directly to the line with a snap swivel. When bait fishing, the preferred rig consists of a pyramid sinker attached to a fish finder and about two feet of leader with a brightly colored float attached close to the hook. The float keeps bait away from bottom-dwelling crabs, dogfish and skate.

Live-lining herring, porgies or mackerel can be a very productive means of taking large bass. A fairly stiff boat rod with a conventional reel is perfect for this practice. Anglers hook baitfish through the back or snout using either a single or treble hook.

Bluefish anglers fish from boat or shore along nearly every harbor entrance, town dock, beach, and jetty. Wire leaders are a must in order to prevent hooked fish from cutting the line with their sharp teeth. Anglers use a variety of plugs, sand eel jigs, squid or mackerel lures when casting or trolling. Porgies, mackerel, or eels are the preferred live baits. When these are not available, many types of cut bait also do well, such as bunker.

With most fish, the quality of the flesh is best when the bluefish is bled, gutted and iced as soon as possible. Bluefish fillets can be marinated in acidic foods such as vinegar, lemon or lime juices, and wine, or they can be cooked with fresh vegetables such as tomatoes and onions. These methods will lighten the flavor as well as retain the oils that confer the full health benefits associated with eating fish.

Porgies feed frantically and fight energetically when hooked, thereby providing angling enjoyment for the entire family. This little scrambler is especially fun for children, as a school of actively feeding scup typically provides non-stop fishing action.

Porgies provide particularly exciting battles when anglers use either a medium-weight spinning or lightweight surf outfit carrying a 10 to 20-pound test line. Some anglers prefer jigging small lures, but the overwhelming majority prefer bait fishing. A typical rig includes a bank sinker, one to two snelled hooks tied six to ten inches above the sinker, and clams or squid as bait. Squid strips are strong enough to withstand the frenzied feeding of these fish.

Although scup are quick to grab the bait, they are difficult to hook. For greatest success, anglers need to become adept at setting the hook as soon as the tip of the fishing rod shows the slightest dipping. Gently lift the baited hooks off the bottom to encourage fish to strike sharply, rather than allowing them to nibble at the bait.  Upon finding a school of actively feeding scup, some anglers lower the bait to the bottom, count to five and set the hook, rather than risk having their bait stolen while waiting for the subtle nibble of the fish.

Scup do not spoil as quickly as many other fish. Still, timely icing and cleaning are recommended in order to enjoy the full sweetness of this species’ flavor.

Bait up your hooks with plenty of clam or squid. We prefer the pieces that have a good portion of the strip, the stringy membrane. Cod aren’t that particular, so there’s no need to worry about hiding the hook or having a pretty lure.

Now drop it to the bottom and make sure you have solid contact. If your line starts to float out after you’ve hit the bottom you may need more weight. Keep your line taut and try and move it as little as possible. It even helps to move the rod with the motion of the boat as it rides the swell to keep the sinker firmly on the bottom.

Seasoned fishers may notice two distinct bites or hits from cod. One is a slight tap like you’d get from a porgy. The other is a solid tug, like someone underwater has grabbed your line and yanked it two feet back.  If you find yourself getting lots of the tapping variety, try to let the fish take it a bit until you feel the weight of the fish, or at least notice a more solid hit. Sometimes, setting the hook on the first tap can result in missing and losing your bait. It’s okay to take a few tries!

Thanks for Reading

These are just a few of the fish varieties you might catch on a Midnight Fleet charter. Guests have caught everything from sea robins to small sharks! If you hook something, just give one of the mates a shout and he’ll help you haul your catch on board. Please remember that we adhere to the laws regarding which fish you can take home, so if it’s too small, just take a picture and send it on its way.

Good luck! The mates are always there to help you if you have any questions. Book it and hook it!