Fishing Long Island’s Great South Bay

Launch a kayak for endless angling adventures in one of Long Island’s most treasured and diverse fisheries.

For saltwater kayak anglers, the waters of the southern Long Island coast provide one seriously engaging environment. Credit the fishing fun to the sheer diversity of habitats. At Captree State Park, near the western edge of Fire Island National Seashore, anglers can weave their boats through tidal creeks hidden between tall stands of cordgrass. Or perhaps you’d prefer to prowl sandflats, sight-casting for game fish that cruise the shallow bars enroute to the deeper, colder water of the Atlantic. Near Captree, the Great South Bay, which stretches between the barrier islands and the mainland, is the traditional home fishing grounds of the Massapequas and Secatogue—and it still remains treasured as a productive fishery today.

Recommended Hotspots

Kayak anglers have many solid options when launching at Captree State Park. No matter which direction you choose, it’s important to understand that the tides, especially near the Fire Island Inlet, are strong. And on summer weekends, the added boat traffic in the inlet can be substantial. Plan accordingly by checking the forecast and tide times, paddling prepared to yield to larger vessels in the main channel—and always equipped with the right outerwear and safety gear.

First, try drifting with your fishing kayak out the inlet toward the Atlantic Ocean. When leaving Captree, turn right (heading southwest) with the outgoing boat traffic. (It's best to time your departure with an outgoing tide, and return on the incoming high tide.) The inlet provides sloping sand beaches, tucked-away lagoons, strong exchanging currents, and rock jetties. Choosing the north or south side of the jetty will provide different terrain. The deep channel and fresh flushes from the Atlantic bring many baitfish and bigger game. Catch bluefish cruising the channel, or fish the bottom along the banks for summer flounder. Continue out to the open Atlantic, or stop to stretch your legs at the wrapping cape of Democrat Point before turning back.

Directly north of the Captree State Park kayak launch is Captree Island, home to twisting tidal creeks and a marshy environment that plays nursery to saltwater fish. To reach Captree Island, paddle north around the fishing pier. Be sure to give the pier a wide berth to avoid the anglers tossing a line from up above. There is a boat channel between the state park and Captree Island proper. The boat traffic is largely the charter fishing fleet leaving the park’s boat basin.

Once you’ve reached Captree, work the perimeter of the island, or enter the labyrinth of tidal creeks. The tall stands of cordgrass can make it seem you are lost from the rest of the world. Game fish like flounder, bluefish, and striped bass wait at opportune places like the mouth of a creek, or where two converge. Think like a predatory fish and you’re sure to get some exciting fights around Captree.

For one of the ultimate challenges in kayak angling, fish the sand flats just south of Sexton Island. At low tide, the water on these flats can be as shallow as ankle deep. The flats can be gin-clear on a good day, and fish cross these flats or travel the channels between them to reach the deeper water of the bay and inlet. To reach the sandflats, also called shoals, head east from the Captree State Park launch. If the wind is calm, standing and sight casting will be ideal.

Continue across the fingers of sandbars and reach Farm Shoals. At this point, you’re close to the north shore of Fire Island National Seashore, a great place to stop and walk to the Fire Island Lighthouse. Then cool off with a swim, and continue fishing along its bayside beaches before crossing the boat channel back to Captree.

Before You Go

Captree State Park requires a day-use fee, and is open to parking from sunrise to sunset. In order to park and fish beyond those hours, a New York State Park Night Sport Fishing Permit is required. Fishing New York coastal waters also requires registration (no fee associated) in the state’s Recreational Marine Fishing Registry:


Tiki Joe’s Captain Table is right at the state park boat basin. You’ll be ready to quench your thirst and grab some grub at the lively restaurant-bar after a day in the sun and salt. Best of all, spend some time swapping fish stories with the crowd returning from the charter boats.

How To Get There

From state Highway 27 take Exit 41 for the Robert Moses Causeway south. After going over the Great South Bay Bridge, take the exit for Ocean Parkway East. Go through the fee collection station. At the circular intersection, bear left toward the boat basin. Then immediately bear right to enter the boat basin parking area. Stay right and head toward the east end of the boat basin near the Captree Fishing Pier.

Where To Park

When you enter the expansive boat basin parking area, make a right and head east toward the fishing pier. In the southeast corner of the parking lot, you’ll see a sign for the kayak launch. The closer you park to this southeast corner, the shorter of a carry with your kayak. It’s only about 50 feet from the southeast corner of the lot to the water; you might not need a boat cart.

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.