Archive for 2011 Fishing Reports
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.
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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!!!
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!!
It’s funny how sometimes the best laid plans don’t actually work out and good old Plan B is put into action and produces results that probably out-shine the original idea. After an EXTREMELY quiet Saturday in Fire Island inlet under beautiful sunny skies, my plan was to fish the late night outgoing tide on Sunday evening. As it turns out I decided against this after spending the entire day up and down the ladder hanging our Christmas decorations. I was SHOT!!!
Plan B was to be my final trip for the 2011 season. The alarm went off at 6:30am and again I decided against it. I figured if the action was going to be as slow as Saturday then it could surely wait till a more decent hour. I ended up arriving at the boat at 10am and headed off across the Great South Bay.
The goal was to hopefully jig up some of the herring reported in the area and feed them to the stripers left in the area. Had the last of the incoming current in the inlet and I began the process of trying to round up some live baits. Did not take long before I felt a rap on the Sabiki rig but it was not herring. Turns out the hickory shad were on the piece. Quickly filled 5 in the livewell and headed off to put them into action.
On the very first drift I dropped a bait right on a fish that was 34inches on the tape. Went untouched until the current slacked when I had another fish that was slightly better, this one going 36inches. As the outgoing started the fish finished off the baits I had in the well and I went back to grab another 3. I ended up the day with 6 fish, all in the same 33-36 inch class. I packed it for the day around 2pm. Pretty decent action for the 3 plus hours I fished.
Suffice to say that the action was good enough today that I decided this trip was NOT the last and will be giving it one more shot tomorrow. THAT will be the last trip for sure
After cancelling my plans to fish the ocean outside Fire Island Inlet this morning due to MORE of the winds that have plagued the area the entire Fall I decided on an evening trip to drag some live eels around the Great South Bay.
I found my buddy Dennis willing to give it a go and we sailed off into the choppy bay right at sunset. We arrived for the start of the ebb current and made a bunch of drifts and moves around the inlet area with nothing to show for it.
I decided to try and find some lee behind the beach and it did not take long for Dennis to find the first fish of the night. This one turned out to be a short striper. I had a quick pickup on my eel but did not get hooked up.
I made another move back further into the bay and once again, it did not take long for Dennis to find another fish. First drop and BANG!! Shortly after a decent 17lb striper was on the deck. Still nothing for me and sadly that was how it would end up.
We called it a night as the current began to slow. Not a bad way to kill a few hours. I’m hoping for the weatherman to throw us a break and turn the FAN off. We’ll see what happens.
After a couple of disappointing trips over the weekend in extremely windy conditions I decided to give the Great South Bay another try with some live bait Tuesday. Grabbed some live bunker and headed out to explore the back bay area for any remaining stripers. Had the last part of the incoming current in the locations I first fished.
On my second drop of the day I had a fish pickup the bait and take off running but no hookup. It may have been a very small fish that could not get the bunker down as the bait was scraped up from the fish wrestling with it.
As the tide slacked in the back bay I headed down toward the Fire Island Inlet to catch the start of the outgoing water. Several drifts inside the inlet on some favorite pieces were fruitless and I made a move just outside.
Turned out to be a good move as I managed two stripers in the 16lb class. One of them was deeply hooked and ended up coming home with me while the other was quickly released boat-side.
I cannot help but feel that our striper fishing in the Fire Island area is winding down earlier this year than normal. The fishing in the bay area has REALLY slowed. There has been no evidence of the migrating fish along the beaches that normally provide us with the final year-end blast.
The boat will be in till at least the weekend after Thanksgiving and I will make the determination then on whether or not it’s worth staying in another week.
Every year I look forward to Election Day. Not for the chance to vote in the new politicians but for the Annual Riverview (The View) Striped Bass contest. This year marked the 22nd edition and the weather could not have been any better. The fishing however was another story.
My buddies and I fish this contest every year but we were a man down this time around as one of the crew had work obligations and could not make it. There is a reason why WORK is a four letter word.
The 2011 Riverview Striped Bass contest saw 146 boats carrying 468 anglers out into the beautiful Great South Bay on one of the nicest days ever seen for this contest. Several past renewals have seen some pretty nasty conditions but not this year. Leaving the dock at the 7:30am as stated by the Contest rules had the contestants cruising across the bay in flat calm with the sun shining brightly.
We arrived on the grounds and with the announced LINES IN at 8am the 2011 Contest was underway. Live baits around the local tackle shops were rarer than hens teeth this year and I had taken a trip the day before hoping to round up some legal live baits. It just did not work out. Bait was so scarce that a local commercial netter who supplies live bunker to many contestants just could not round up any of these prime baitfish and so we fished with live eels the entire day. I LOVE the eels and night but not so much during the day.
We fished the end of the incoming current around the Fire Island Inlet with no luck. No signs of life on any of the other boats either. As the current turned to outgoing a move was made back into the bay. We were treated to the US Coast Guard practicing some rescue maneuvers with the helicopter and local cutter involved. What precision these guys show.
Made a bunch of moves around the bay. Morning moved into afternoon before we had our first and only take of the day. John hooked up a healthy little 31 inch striper that was not large enough for the minimum requirements of the contest. It was, however, just PERFECT size for the grill.
As the current slacked we headed back to the marina to clean-up and get to the restaurant for the Awards/Dinner party. This is one awesome party they throw here. The dinner is awesome with open bar provided courtesy of the sponsoring The View (formerly The Riverview) restaurant. It is a lot of fun gathering on the patio overlooking the Connetquot River and shooting the breeze with fellow fisherman. Trust me when I tell you that it is even MORE fun when you are bringing a contending size fish to the scales. We were hoping to improve upon our 2nd place finish in last years contest but that was just not to be this year.
The final verdict had a 36lb fish cop first prize. A pair of 27lb fish were 2nd and 3rd. From there the fish dropped in weight to the low 20s with a 19lb fish rounding out the top 10. The contest pays out to 15th place and it only took a TINY 14lb striper to grab the last spot this year. Can you say SLOW fishing, 468 anglers only managed to catch 15 qualifying stripers for the entire day.
Despite the VERY slow fishing, I already find myself thinking about next years edition and hoping to be finally dragging the WINNER to the scales.
Anyone in the Great South Bay area who has NOT fished this contest before should definately consider giving it a try. It is a LOT of fun for the cost of the entry fee and I think you have great time as well.
The striped bass fishing in the Fire Island area during the daytime has been difficult (slow) since the recent early snow during Halloween week. The action has been much better on the night tides and that is where I focused my attention this past weekend.
On Friday 11/4 I sailed with friends catch the outgoing current in some favorite back bay locations. The NOAA forecast called for the high winds we had during the day to lay down to 10-15kts. Well, suffice to say that was WRONG!! We had the winds blowing steady 20-25kts making for some tough conditions.
With the high winds I quickly ruled out some of the more open areas and opted to fish some other slightly sheltered locations further in the bay. As soon as we arrived I was marking fish on the pieces but they were not feeding just yet. Small adjustments in the drifts as the current built finally got us some bites. We had stripers up to 18lbs on the live eels before finally giving in to the relentless wind and headed back across a sloppy Great South Bay.
I was back out on Sunday night for a quicky run in some MUCH improved conditions. Winds were light and the fish were around once again. Live eels produced fish once again but on this night they were running on the small side. I ended the night with 4 fish but they were probably only around a 10lb average size.
I’m hopeful the mild weather forecast for this coming week gets things back in order in the Fire Island Inlet and Great South Bay. Until then the fish on the night shift have been stretching the lines and that’s never a bad thing