There is one place an angler can go that will always feel a bit more comfortable- the surf. When it comes to fishing the surf, there is no place in the east better than Montauk, where surf fishing is about as good as it gets anywhere. Montauk is a surf fisherman’s dream, where you can fish back bays, sand beaches, or go rock hopping all in the same trip. There are spots for every tide and every wind, making Montauk a place where you can find fish somewhere in the surf 24-7.
Montauk is basically a small fishing village with a population of about 3,500 people.
Technically it is part of the town of East Hampton in Suffolk County, NY, located at the tip of the South Fork peninsula of Long Island, 118 miles east of Midtown Manhattan. The Montauk Point Light was the first lighthouse in New York state and is the fourth oldest active lighthouse in the United States. It is a major tourist destination with its six state parks and its fame for fishing, claiming to have more world saltwater fishing records than any other town in the world. It is also home to the largest commercial and recreational fishing fleet in New York state.
What makes Montauk an ideal spot for fishing is the fact that it is very narrow and the majority of the town faces the coast. Current around Montauk is abundant. Moreover, there are a lot of state parks in Montauk that offer fishing as one of their major attractions. Montauk Point State Park is a wooded area located at the tip of Long Island. This state park offers the best surf fishing spot in the whole of New York. The beach has calm waters. Fishermen like this park since it’s not too crowded. The beach is teeming with fish such as Porgy, Cod and even Mako Sharks. Camp Hero State Park is a 415-acre landscape that includes a beach front and military installation. The park offers a haven for fishermen as they can fish off the shores of the park, as well as in the freshwater wetland. Fishermen have the option to fish for trout and pike in the wetland or fish for bass and flounder off the beach. The undisturbed environment of this fishing park makes it an ideal location for surf fishing. The park is open 24 hours provided you get a permit from the local government.
Theodore Roosevelt County Park offers a wide beach front as well as marshland, which make the park perfect for freshwater and surf fishing. The park is open to the public and does not require an entrance fee. However, park rangers limit the number of people allowed to enter the park each day in order to preserve the integrity of the natural habitat. It may be a good idea to call ahead before heading there, to ensure that you’ll be able to enter. The park does not allow night fishing and closes at 5pm. Shadmoor State Park is a 99-acre park that features a wide expanse of beach accessed by using two man-made stairways. The beach is frequented by surf fishermen since there is a lot of marine wildlife found in this area.
When it comes to surf fishing on Montauk, you have to understand that it is literally surrounded by fishing grounds considered to be “surf” fishing territory.
However, there are specific places that generate specific species as well as the most striped bass and bluefish- the most commonly sought after surf fishing species. This fishery is generally considered to extend from spring through fall. While you can catch fish in the summer, it is widely agreed that more fish are caught in the other two seasons. In May the water temperatures are cool and the fish are migrating. May can be excellent depending on how consistent the weather patterns are. If it is trophy stripers you seek this is one of the best months. June anglers experience a good population of sand eels, and when the stripers find them fishing can be superb. Montauk gets overlooked by a lot of anglers during May and June, so you can expect to fish without the crowds. I think of this month as the most consistent fishing of the year.
This time, I went in July to beat the heat. It can be a slow month due to the higher water temperatures and there is a lack of some of the favorite baits. Fish still are hitting on the night tides, and every now and then some cows take residence in one of the many boulder-infested areas. The trick is finding them. If you do, the first two weeks of July can be prime time to seek trophies. Then there is August. This is a favorite month to fish. Many fisherman are waiting for September and generally there is a lack of effort being expended by fishermen due to the heat. But there are cows to be taken for those surf rats that are willing to crawl over the rocks or take long hikes in the middle of the night to find the fish. If you are going to try August, you should already have some casting skills, and be in decent physical shape for the long hikes, and required rock hopping.
August is pretty much a night only time for the serious angler. September and October are prime time on Montauk. The bass and blues are migrating. Bait is everywhere. Striper and Bluefish blitzes are common. It is indeed the best time to be a Montauk surf fisherman. November and December can be excellent especially for big fish, but wind and weather play a large role in determining your opportunities for success.
As far as favorite places. Montauk Point is a place you must try. The point has a number of different types of surf fishing structures and it offers a lot of beach to walk. It will take time for you to hit them all. Starting from the south and working around the point, favorite spots are: Turtle Cove, The Rocks and False Point. Another favorite is known as Ditch Plains. If you go to “Ditch”, head west to the cliffs. The Ditch area attracts birds working the water when the bait is present. Further west, there’s Nick’s Beach. And, further still is Gurney’s. During November, you could hear reports of huge bass pounding the beach in each of these places. On the north side, stripers and fluke do run through Montauk Harbor. If you can find a place off a dock, toss a bucktail or live eel
. On the far northeast, Gin Beach is a hot spot. By Gosman’s you can fish off the pier for blackfish, blues, striped bass, porgies and fluke. Further west on the north side you have Culloden and Fort Pond Bay.
On my most recent trip, I got into some Bluefish using Pencil Poppers in the early morning and evening, and on Darters at night. Fishing Montauk is not for the casual surfcaster. It is hardcore all the way. I slept in the truck and survived on 7-11 pizza. Nothing but pedal to the metal fishing, climbing over huge boulder fields and casting into a mix of reefs and cuts with a lot of current. There are lots of ambush spots for the fish. Itas excited to send you those over. I thought I would get into summer stripers, butinstead it was the bluefish action that was fast and furious making for a great outing. In terms of gear, you will need 8 – 12 ft. poles, a good Daiwa reel with at least 15 lb. test. In my bag I aways have some bucktails, tins, poppers and SP Minnows. One last but very important reminder- when fishing from the surf, be careful!
Too many people are hurt, or even killed, falling on rocks or being caught in the current. Please take the proper precautions because at iBass360, we want you to Live The Passion!
iBass360 Pro Staff James “Jimmy Bass” Buonanno Jr. from Burlington, NJ, is equally comfortable fishing the fresh or the salt. James represents Daiwa, HUK, and Rapala USA as Pro Staff, We are very pleased James shares his knowledge of fishing through his iBass360 articles.