MONTAUK: “THE END” Is Just The Beginning
Updated: Feb 6, 2020
The End always offers a certain exhilaration, a heightened level of excitement. Think of a book or a good movie that has kept you hanging or at the other end of the spectrum, think how excited you are about ending a long work day. Of course, it is the opposite when you hear “The End is near!” Any anticipation or excitement you had about endings comes crashing down when you hear that. For surf fishermen who make the trek out to Montauk (a.k.a. "The End") that concept of “The End” has an entirely different level of excitement and anticipation- that being of all the possibilities that lie ahead, and when you are making the drive to that “Mecca of Surfcasting” ideas of what is possible encompass your every thought.
In a country as big as ours, the opportunity to visit a place where the end of the road means access to the vast ocean does not occur every day. What is potentially even more rewarding for the surf fisherman is the chance to catch the fish of a lifetime or to find yourself casting into an all-out blitz of Striped Bass or Bluefish complete with the iconic Montauk Lighthouse and a setting sun in the background.
Montauk is located on the easternmost point of the south fork of Long Island, NY. Known as the “Mecca of Surfcasting”, recent years have not been as productive on Montauk as in the past. Nevertheless, there’s still no place along the Striper Coast that provides the beauty, legend, and potential of Montauk. While Montauk’s rocky shoreline can be intimidating to the average surfcaster, it provides the structure necessary to be the home for large Striped Bass looking for an easy meal, as well as to a wealth of other fish
species (Bluefish and False Albacore to name just two of the more challenging) which can also be targeted from the surf.
Spring and Fall are the most prolific times of year to target Striped Bass from Montauk, especially May and June, and again in September and October. However, Montauk’s location makes it productive throughout the fishing season, especially at night- that is if you’re willing to put in the time. I have written about it a lot- the key is always to put in the time in and do your planning. Yes, the serious surfcaster needs to plan vacation days if he wants to fish the migration mayhem. If you want to fish Montauk and you can only choose one time to fish it, choose September through October. This is when surf fisherman can experience an epic daytime blitz around the lighthouse as Bluefish, Baitfish, and Stripers all converge to make the Montauk surf boil with life.
If you have the family with, you can experience amazing night bites while everyone sleeps and
not cut into the family time. You also need to prepare to run into crowds of fisherman around the lighthouse, especially any day “the word” gets out that the fish are in the boil.
When the word is out, especially with today’s “instant” technology, it does not take long for the lighthouse parking lot to fill with anglers. If fishing in a crowd is not your thing, there is plenty of real estate to north and south of the lighthouse- you just need to walk a bit. These areas are productive too, and believe me, you’ll have less headaches- fewer anglers- even if the terrain gets more difficult to navigate. For those looking to fish the proper tides, the rule of the thumb is to attack the south side of the lighthouse on the incoming (flood) tide (flood), and fish the outgoing (ebb) tide on the north side of the lighthouse.
When choosing equipment to fish “The End” you should not be shy. It calls for beefed up equipment. This is not really the place for your light tackle as it will impede your ability to land big fish around the boulder fields. Using the proper equipment also allows you to land fish in a shorter amount of time. This has two benefits: First it reduces the chance of you losing a fish along the rocky shoreline since you will be better able to avoid large boulders by controlling the fish, especially should it try to take a run; Second, if you are fishing a crowded area, heavier gear will allow you decrease the time it takes to land the fish thereby minimizing tangles and the related problems of being close to other anglers. Your rod of choice should be a 10’ or 11’ rated to handle throwing large plugs and lures. Match this rod with a properly sized reel spooled with no less than 30 lb. braided line. You’ll also want to invest in a high quality pair
of waders and a set of Korkers to help reduce the chance of injury from slipping and falling on the rocks or in the water. For those wishing to wade out further, or to get out to stand on a large boulder, a wetsuit would be a good choice. You will see many an experienced Montauk angler choosing this type of gear.
When it comes to what lures to throw into this legendary surf, there are a few lures that should be in every Montauk angler’s bag to produce consistent action. If you are fishing the daytime, your arsenal should include pencil and standard poppers, soft plastics and swimming lures such as SP Minnows, as well as some metal lures like Hopkins Spoons and Diamond Jigs. If you are stalking the night tides, your surf bag should be full of darters, bottle plugs, and metal lip swimmers. As I have emphasized in previous articles, your day and night bags should have a variety of bucktails as these lures consistently produce during either time. A good rule for color selection is stay with lighter colors during the day (white, yellow, chartreuse) and during the
night tides utilize darker colors (black, wine). Do remember, however, that conditions like the lunar cycle and water clarity can present exceptions to color rules.
I really enjoy fishing these waters. The breathtaking views, beautiful beaches, the quaint town and legendary lighthouse, and the chance to land the fish of lifetime, all make Montauk a must fish for surf anglers. Making the trek out to this tiny east end town is not only worthwhile for the surf fisherman but also to anyone who wants to experience its unique environment. Montauk is a place that possesses many different types of beauty and it will allow you to escape to one of the most serene and pristine locations in the Northeast.
iBass360.com is pleased to feature a monthly blog from Bernie Hoyt , a NYS Certified Fishing Guide with over 30 years of experience surfcasting the legendary waters of Long Island. Well known for his informative seminars at saltwater shows in the Northeast, Bernie offers trips along the outer beaches and inlets of Long Island, as well as Cape Cod Canal, Cuttyhunk, and other Northeast Striper locations. He is a pro-team member for S&S Bucktails, ODM RODS, and KastKing, as well as a member of the Long Island Beach Buggy Association and the Montauk Surfcasters Association. You can contact Bernie on Facebook through Bernie Bass Surfcasting Services, on Instagram @Bernie_bass and through his website at www.Berniebass.com