As we approach the start of 2012 I wanted to take a bit of time to review how the fishing season went down on the waters of the Great South Bay and Fire Island Inlet during the 2011 season. Before getting into this too far, I want to say Thank You once again to all the folks who sailed aboard the Maybe Tonight during the 2011 season and who played such a large part in making it such a GREAT year!!

Striped Bass fishing in the Spring and Fall was VERY good. The Spring bluefish action was very nice as well but the larger fish were not around in the numbers we are used to until almost summer-time.Speaking of summer, fluke fishing in the area was EXCELLENT both in the bay and the ocean waters. The Fall brought us some nice striper action both day and night. Mild temperatures had the fish in the area right up to the closing bell on December 15th. Let’s take a closer look at how the season went aboard my boat.

The 2011 season started for the Maybe Tonight at the end of April when the boat was launched during a miserable, rainy, windy day for the ride to her slip in Seaborn Marina in Bay Shore NY. Little did we know at the time that the wind that day was going to be a harbinger of the winds we would endure for the majority of the season.

Long Island Fishing Season Getting Underway

Long Island Fishing Season Beginning

The end of April into May saw the flounder fishing actually providing some results for folks giving them an honest shot. While far from red-hot, the action was solid enough where you could actually feel as though you were going to catch a couple. Added to this was the surprise return of the blowfish to the Great South Bay waters. For many folks the blowfish outnumbered the flounders and this was a very welcome addition to the Spring fishery in the area.

Fire Island Striped Bass on Live Bait

21 lb Fire Island Striped Bass

By mid-May the bunker were settling into their normal locations in the Great South Bay and the striper fishermen were all over them with cast-nets flying to fill their live-wells with this prime striped bass bait. The stripers did not disappoint either as they put on quite a show in the Fire Island waters right into late July. Anglers drifting their live baits in the inlet or outside in the ocean around the large bunker schools were rewarded with numerous LARGE stripers with the action lasting for weeks.

 

As we moved into summer, there were still bunker schools in the ocean but now the bluefish had found them and were tearing them up making it very hard to find any stripers who remained in the area. Not a problem though as I love catching this saltwater alligators too!!!

Fluke fishing was also in full swing as summer moved in, the bottom of the Great South Bay seemed to be paved with the flatties. The downside here in the bay was that the vast majority of the fish were below the New York legal size limit.

Summer also brought with it the beach season and my wife and I took full advantage by making several trips to our favorite anchorages at Talisman Beach and the cove of the Sore Thumb. Sand, sun and surf were the rule of the day on these trips. Love it!!!

Beach time in the cove of Sore Thumb on Fire Island

Before the traffic at Sore Thumb in Fire Island Inlet

As we moved to the end of summer, the snapper bluefish were in solid numbers and these prime baits were put into use searching out some of the hard to find weakfish in the bay. While these fish are not around in good numbers in recent years, late summer generally gives us a shot at a few and I was happy to find them in early September on a few late afternoon trips.

Live Peanut Bunker for Long Island Fluke and Weakfish

Livewell full of Peanut Bunker

 

Moving into October things began to pickup nicely as the weather began to cool. The bunker put in appearances in the Fire Island Inlet and Great South Bay again and the large bluefish were right on their tails. Good stripers were in the mix as well but the bluefish were tough to get through. By mid-month the bunker had moved back outside again and daytime action on the bass slowed. At the same time the night bite on live eels really started to shine and the boat had a great finish to October right through the middle of November fishing night tides with the eels.

Fire Island Striped Bass Fishing with Live Eels

The gang with some of the catch

The end of November had the large baits show up again inside, with bunker, shad and herring all appearing in decent numbers and the stripers blasting them in short order. While making bait was tough some days, you were almost guaranteed a fish per bait on the days you found the livies!!!

Fire Island Striped Bass on Live Bait in November- Striper Fishing still going on in the Fire Island Inlet

Live Bait Fire Island Striper

The fantastic jigging action we had in the ocean the past couple of years just never materialized this year along Fire Island area. Several exploratory trips made in the ocean along the beaches produced very little, with most days not even showing any marks on the finder. The schools of sandeels that had driven the action the last few years just did not show in any numbers this season. Even days where you did mark the baitfish, the gamefish were just not on them.

Here’s a video I threw together with some highlights of the 2011 season. I am already chomping at the bit to get on the water for 2012!!