Every fall after spending three months in Alaska guiding clients up and down the rivers, I travel to Montauk to hide out in a cheap motel on the beach. I need to decompress and move at a slower pace. I need to fish for myself without the pressure of having to get someone else into fish. I’ve been doing it this way for 10 years and consider Montauk to be a special place.
Montauk is a small town located at the very farthest tip of Long Island. If you pass Montauk then you’ve gone to far and will probably find yourself standing in the ocean. I fly into one of three airports that service New York City and then rent a car
Getting to Montauk is the hardest part. GPS makes it a lot easier. Once you are there everything slows down and the vacation begins.
Fall is the off-season for Montauk, so the prices of rooms come down and vacancies are easy to find. I like to stay right on the beach with a view of the water. I can’t count how many times I’ve been relaxing in my room watching a football game and right outside my window a striper blitz starts happening. I always have my rod and reel next to the sliding glass door that opens onto the beach. My two hotels of choice are Ocean Beach Resort and Gurney’s Inn. When I go to Montauk alone just to fish and get away, I stay at Ocean Beach Resort, which is really a motel, but it’s on a great stretch of beach for fishing. Another benefit is it’s in walking distance from Paulie’s Tackle Shop.Ocean Beach Resort is a simple, low frills kind of place. Gurney’s Inn is a resort. If you are traveling with someone who’s not a fisherperson then Gurney’s Inn’s is a great choice. It’s on the beach and has lots to do for the non-fisherperson.
Paulie’s Tackle Shop is my first stop when I get to Montauk and the first stop every morning. It is the un-official meeting spot for the striper fisherman of Montauk. At sunrise you can count on finding fisherman hanging out at the shop drinking coffee (which is supplied free by Paulie) and talking fishing. A lot of good information is traded at that time, but you have to distinguish the truth from the BS. I usually buy a bucktail or two to replenish my supply or a Pencil Popper I can’t live without.
So who were the guys I’ve fished with?
Gary Stephens, the “Toad.” He’s lived in Montauk for 45 years. It is true that he has caught eight stripers over 40 lbs. and two over 50. He may even come out and show you how to fillet a striped bass. He was also our go-to-guy when it came to planning a bonfire on the beach.
Paul Melnyk. Paul wears a lot of hats: carpenter, singer, musician and striped bass fanatic. He is best known for his style of striped bass fishing — “skishing.” If you want to experience skishing, Paul is available to guide. He is also author of the book “Montauk Confidential: A Fisherman’s Memoir,” a fun book that has a lot of inside information on fishing Montauk (names of hidden beaches, rocks, maps of hot spots). Information that doesn’t come easy.
Crazy Alberto Knie. He is called “crazy” because of his intensity when it comes to chasing fish. He is a holder of an IGFA world record for striped bass, owner of his own tackle company and has designed a line of extreme fishing surf rods for Lamiglas. He now lives in Florida but makes the annual pilgrimage to Montauk for the striper run. In between all his ventures, he does a lot of public speaking on striped bass fishing.
David Wratchford. David is the only fly fisherman in our Montauk episode. He makes a yearly trip to Montauk to fish for the striped bass. He also does a lot of fishing on the West Coast and if you are interested he can guide you onto some trout, striped bass, largemouth bass and even carp on a fly rod. I’ve fished with him in Los Angeles for carp — it’s a lot of fun.
On one of the days while filming in Montauk, “Toad” took me out to fish for tautog or blackfish. This is a great fighting and delicious eating fish. We did well that day and I kept a few for dinner. One block from the Ocean Beach Resort is Wok and Roll, a Chinese restaurant that will cook to order any fish you bring in. I can’t speak for the rest of the menu, but they did very well cooking my catch.
Thank you for watching. Join us on Facebook and please let your friends know about the show.
I fished two rods of my own and borrowed Melnyk’s and Gary Stephen’s on a couple occasions. My rods for surf casting are the Lamiglas-XSRA 1205-2 10′ 15-30LB and the Lamiglas Super Surf SS9MS 9′ 12-20lb. On these rods I outfit them with a Black Van Staal Bail-less VS 150 and a Silver Van Staal Bail-less VS 100. The VS 100 is small for these rods but it’s what I have so I matched it with the 9 foot Super Surf. The Van Staals are pricey but you will own them for a life time. I’ve had my Silver one for a good 10-15 years and it still looks brand new.