Montauk Madness

Every year, fishermen make their way to the “Surfcasting Capital of the World” —Montauk, New York— also known as “The End”.

Montauk striper anglers

Photo above by Tom Lynch

Every year, fishermen make their way to the “Surfcasting Capital of the World” —Montauk, New York— also known as “The End”. Over the last decade or so, it has become an annual trip for me, along with some close friends and fellow members of the Berkeley Striper Club in New Jersey.

I wish I had fished the rocks under the lighthouse there when I was younger, but at least I discovered it when I did. Montauk is a destination that every surfcaster should experience at least once in his lifetime, and despite my being skunked and not getting a single bite my first time there, I never wanted to leave. Here’s why:

Arriving in the middle of the night during a screaming nor’easter with my buddy, Bruce, we found ourselves with no direction as to where to fish, so we ended up casting off the rocks under the lighthouse. Just about every rock capable of fishing from was occupied and a picket line of fishermen surrounded the base of the lighthouse. It was a full house even before first light! The locals knew this was where the action was and fished there before conditions got rough later in the day.

Sand Eel striped bass

Some really nice striped bass were caught that morning, but when our lines came up empty, we ended up being spectators to the fishermen doing the catching. We came away with some newfound knowledge and vowed to come back and catch the next time.

Bucktailing under the Montauk bluffs
Bucktailing under the bluffs during an early fall storm.

We read all the maps and picked as many brains as we could those first few years, eventually venturing deep into the north and south sides, finally finding some success. We even stumbled into a couple of the famed Montauk Blitzes in the daylight that were prominent back in the day during the fall run. The blitz fishing doesn’t happen as much these days, for one reason or another, but that doesn’t mean it can’t still happen when conditions are right. There is so much to offer surf fishermen, and if you don’t mind walking miles of tough terrain, you can still find plenty of action. Three necessities are to travel light, wear jetty cleats, and stay hydrated.

I don’t go crazy anymore when it comes to carrying a tackle shop’s worth of plugs. Instead, I pack some bucktails and swimming plugs for the nights, and some poppers and metals for the daylight. I also have some small metals for false albacore in case they pop up within range.

Fall Run Plug Bag
Fall Run Plug Bag – Checkout Four New York/New Jersey Surfcasters Share Their Must-Have Lures For Fall Stripers

Montauk is a popular place for fishermen in wetsuits to sling eels and bucktails with waterproof sealed reels, but you can still catch in waders. It can seem very overwhelming watching everyone and everything going on there during the fall, but take it all in, watching and listening to what is going on while staying patient and positive. It will come to you.

The wind and tides are everything in Montauk. As a general rule, the north side of Montauk fishes better on the outgoing tide and the south side fishes better on the incoming tide. Don’t leave town if a northeast wind is brewing—bad weather almost always creates great fishing in Montauk. However, that is not to say other conditions don’t make for good fishing. On one trip, we enjoyed an epic, four-night bite under a full moon with the wind at our backs.

A flock of sea gulls feeds on sand eels in the wash.
A flock of sea gulls feeds on sand eels in the wash.

Don’t rule out fishing the sand and town beaches, either. In the past few years, the presence of sand eels there made for a better bite than at the Point.

One thing’s for sure, there is just something special about Montauk that gets into your blood. Though many changes are happening, make sure to visit the Surfcasting Capital of the World and experience the madness.

17 on “Montauk Madness

  1. LOU


  2. Keith

    Awesome report. I used to fish a lot in Montauk and especially the point back in the day about 25-30 years ago, and was fortunate to experience a few of those massive striper blitzes in the surf. Actually out here today (just got back from the point an hour ago), but no luck so far. Great article!

  3. Casey Muñoz

    went to camp there from ‘63,4,5. no fishing, but it was beautiful with forests and ocean ?

  4. Kimberley wolff

    I can’t put my finger on it ,I Am not afishin
    Enthusiast.i am areader and I love how this is written.tome it’s as if I was hearing a narrationwhile walking the shoreline.kind of reminds me of a great Robert Redford movie he directed ‘ river runs thru it”8its like your story belongs to a future great movie.

  5. Tommy haller

    I fished the pointe way back in the day As a young boy with my uncle many times ! We caught some big monsters ! I got to fish from the rocks on front the light house and that beach side as well ! Boy that was some fun filed days ! Now I live in Florida and I need to go hit the surf for the red fish run

  6. Lon

    Permission to aboard?
    Our outer beaches of capecod will build up again.

    That’s were the legend of a trure
    surfman knows how to deal with a trophy fish

  7. Declan Conroy

    Nice reminder of how things where back in the day here at the end , surreal scenes of stripped bass so thick in the shallows it was hard to move in the water for fear of standing on one of even loose your footing avoiding them , great and memorable times surfcasting under the light , thanks for putting a smile on my face today , Declan

  8. Helen

    My husband and I have lived on Long Island our whole lives. He goes surf fishing every morning till it freezes over. We started going to Montauk more then 30 years ago before it was cool to go there. We go in the Spring and Fall. We stay on the ocean side in town and he has caught some beauties right in town. We love it and have made some amazing friends there. Hoping to make it back once this COVID is gone, we miss it terribly. We keep in touch with our friends and they tell us it is very busy out there and we wouldn’t like the crowds so we are waiting.

  9. Dave Figgs

    I want to thank you for the nice read. I am approaching my retirement years and to date have never been to Montauk. It however is at the top of my bucket list to do before I leave this earth. You have given me some insight on where and how to fish and look forward to making some memories of my own soon. Thanks again Steve. Tight lines and full coolers.

  10. Bearer of bad news

    Montauk fishing is a shell of what it once was. My first trip out 15 years was the beginning of the end compared to stories I heard … The stock is on a collapse time to shut it down ant let it recover.

  11. David M Tews

    some people can’t keep a secret, which is why it’s a madhouse now.
    If you go to Montauk, take your crap when you leave. Don’t leave your damn plastic and trash everywhere.
    Sorry to be a downer, but it’s reports and stories like these that have brought too many people who couldn’t give a about protecting the place. Take nothing but pictures, leave nothing but footprints and clean up your own trash. I’m so sick of plastic bottles and stupid birthday balloons washing up on our shorelines. Come have fun, but respect our beach or stay the home.

  12. Steve George

    Thank you for the kind words , MTK is a very special place and I’ll be out East for a few days soon. Everyone have a great Fall Run.

  13. Jim O’Dowd

    Third week of September has been my favorite time to fish. It’s when the bay anchovies show up. I use a small chartreuse teaser and do really well when plugs can’t buy a fish. Look for the brown water.

  14. Cliff

    Montauk is epic and has abundant opportunities inshore and offshore. It is the I-95 and Grand Central Station of many gamefish. I fished the point many times but if you are not equipped and ready it can be a dangerous place to fish but there are many easier places to fish to the West of point so dont think its the only game in town. Just be respectful and leave a light footprint. And what you carry in carry out and thst includes spent fishing line. These are a hazard to the abundant seals, bird and marine life as much as they are an eyesore

  15. Constant Preasure

    Great article but when you go there the locals think they own the beach and could be a bunch of jerks when it come to a rock there is no need to be that way we are all out to have fun and make memories. I’m from Staten Island but live in Jersey now and it seems like the locals don’t like the out of state plates.


    The days of College, Farmingdale, Huntington, Glen Cove, Syossett, Jones Beach, Rocky Point, Farmingville….the 70’s
    had us wrapped up in fast cars, cheap gas and cases of beer under$10.00. It was a time where surf fishing was a love affair you worked on every free moment. See how fast you could get from the south to north shore, Queens to Montauk in under 3 hours, possible at 2am. The art of being alive was always a constant , learning as you grew up at the best play ground kept us moving and fishing, day after day after day.

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