Mike Wright on his way to work.
Welcome to the Surfcasting Capital of the World!
By Mike Wright
Right here in Montauk, acre-sized schools of striped bass thrash the surface of the sea to a roiling froth with their tails, often churning their way to within just a few feet of dry
sand. At times, fish up to five feet long and weighing 50 pounds or more are feeding within a stone’s throw of beach towels.
Whether you are visiting Montauk for a weekend away, are a regular summer visitor, or have lived here for decades and just haven’t gotten “into” the fishing scene yet, wetting a line from one of Montauk’s legendary beaches is a must-do. You ARE in The Surfcasting Capital of the World, after all.
While Montauk might be better known for things other than a surfcasting destination nowadays, that unofficial title was never just some tourism advertiser’s Hail Mary to give a once sleepy hamlet a little marketing pizzazz.
There are perhaps only one or two other places on the planet that would even hope to compare themselves to Montauk in terms of the opportunity they present a visitor to catch a fish — possibly a really big fish — from the shoreline of one of the seven seas. You see, Montauk is a geographically unique place. Here, the shape of the New England coastline conspires with a ballet of tides and wind and the maritime food chain to create a showcase for some of Mother Nature’s most awe-inspiring displays and give anglers unique access to fish that otherwise would be out of reach of landlubbers.
Experiencing what it is that makes Montauk a veritable Mecca for those obsessed with surfcasting can be a very easy and laid back affair involving beach chairs, or it can be a technical, athletic adventure that is more akin to mountaineering, amid the crashing waves.
Near Montauk Point
For equipment, you can go as simple as a basic pole of at least 7 feet and a reel capable of holding at least 15-pound-test line and some bait or a lure called a bucktail (just ask at any tackle shop). A hundred bucks and you’re ready. Or, depending on how aggressive you want to be, you may need to add waders, a jacket, rock-spikes and even flashlights for nighttime prowling to your arsenal.
Fish can be caught off the beach at just about any time between April and December, though certainly there are times when the catching — as compared to just fishing — is more reliable than others.
Sunrise and sunset are the cliché, but also accurate, “best times” on any given day, especially in the heat of summer.
But that does not mean that if you are planning a basic day at the beach that you shouldn’t throw a rod and reel and a bucktail or some frozen clams in with the Kadima paddles and frisbee. You never know what’s waiting at the water’s edge in Montauk. OM
Editor’s Note: Be sure to crush the barbs down on your hooks to minimize injury to fish you’ll release…and to make hook release from fingers and hands easier as well.
Fall striper blitz in Montauk.