For years I heard the stories of the epic blitzes that would occur around Montauk Point for stripers and bluefish. I recall once a story where Fred Golofaro told me he was up on the bluffs at Camp Hero observing a massive blitz of stripers on rainbait below at Brown’s Point on the south side. The stripers had the fish pinned into the rocks and were basically on the shore. He shouted down to his friend below “I bet you can’t catch a fish with your bare hands” his surfcasting comrade who took on his bet put his rod and reel down and proceeded to reach into the white water where he came up with a 20-pound striper that he pinned to his chest. He held the fish for a few seconds before it flopped back into the water.
This is one example of many that demonstrates what the fishing was like in Montauk anywhere from the end of August through November. Now the game has changed. Day blitzes like this are uncommon and it seems like most that do take place stay just out of casting distance for surfcasters to enjoy. I was able to get out to Montauk a couple of weeks ago and while the fish were present, the birds worked right outside of range for the entire duration of my trip. It almost seemed like a dirty water line was established and the fish would not cross it. This is not a one-time thing, regulars tell me this is a common phenomenon in Montauk.
Quite the opposite of Montauk when it comes to available fish for shore fishermen is the South Shore of Long Island. This stretch has seen some great fishing the past year in both the spring and the fall so far. And big fish too! From east of Shinnecock to Breezy Point, some good opportunities have come up for casters. So far the striper fishing has been fueled by bunker close to the shore. A lot of the fish are coming closer after dark. Almost every week I hear reports of fish from 30 to 40 pounds with the occasional slob cracking 50.
So what is the reasoning for this? Some would attribute it to the protection on menhaden which are in large numbers now along the South Shore, providing an endless buffet for bass to feed on. But what about Montauk? While I’d like to say the dirty water line that the fish won’t cross due to the ongoing construction might contribute to the fish not wanting to cross over to surfcasting territory, the fact of the matter is the day blitz fishing was slowing down before that. The days where waves of stripers feeding on rainbait coming around the point one wave after another have not taken place in a while. These fish were so thick at times it would sound like a locomotive approaching which was actually the sound of stripers crashing on bait. I’ve seen fragments of this some years ago but the scenes that were described to me by the veteran casters were certainly not what I saw
Is this change for the better or worse? I suppose the fish set up along the South Shore stretch are a bit more spread out but at the same time those who cannot afford to make a trip to Montauk have a good shot at quality stripers without the extra travel time and expenses. While I would love to see the days of old Montauk blitzes take place once again, it’s nice to see what we have now, which is big fish available for most willing to put some time in on the South Shore.