Located approximately 10 nautical miles from Montauk Harbor and just around the bend from the famous Montauk Lighthouse is a well-known area that has been producing phenomenal fluke and porgy catches for the last several years. With these two species, anglers can score with sea bass, blues, striped bass, bonito, and albacore. I am talking about the Montauk Shoals to Hither Hills for the South Side area. This area spans approximately five nautical miles and is chock full of fish-holding habitat throughout the season.
Local maps show names like Great Eastern, Montauk Shoal, Gurneys, Caswell’s, “Behind Town,” Frisbees, Radar Tower, and New Grounds, are just a few. Check out Capt. Segull’s Chart MP108 for a detailed look at the area.
I recently spoke to Capt. Scott Leonard of Top Gun Sportfishing Charters sails out of Montauk and targets fluke and stripers heavily. Scott has put numerous anglers on to stripers over 50 pounds, but he also has put a lot of anglers on 10-plus pound fluke. Scott feels one of the better areas and time is July and the Rocky Hill area, where the water depths are between 75-90 feet. Rocky Hill, from what I have read is in the general vicinity of Frisbee’s but is not on any chart. Frisbee’s is also a known hot spot for jumbo fluke. As for rigs, nothing beats Mike Lang’s Poison Tails – South_Shore_Tackle (Instagram). These jigs are awesome, and when paired with big baits, you better hold on. Some better large baits would be bluefish fillets, whole squid, or large Peruvian spearing. On the soft plastic side, Berkley Gulp and Fishbites Fight Club grubs in 6 inches are also hot.
The area also plays host to numerous smaller rock piles that will hold porgies and sea bass in abundance. It is not uncommon for private boaters to head out fluking and wind up with sea bass and porgies at the dinner table as well. The rock piles in the 20-foot depths off Kings Point have always played host to all the porgies you could want, but most are just keepers or slightly above. For larger scup, head to structure in the 30-plus range.
An unnamed wreck is located at 41-02.050/71-53.080, a barge at 40-59.610/71-57.500, and a cabin cruiser at 40-59.006/71-53.471. The first lies at 45 feet, while the barge is at 60-65, and the cabin cruiser slightly deeper at 80 feet. Depending on the time of year, each piece will hold fish. Simply anchor up, and drop a line over. If the fish are on the piece, you should catch or lose bait within minutes of anchoring.
For striped bass and bluefish, watch for bunker pods or gulls crashing baitfish on the surface. In fact, bass and blues can be caught from the surf line to a mile out and more. Trolling wire lines with parachutes in green will always account for stripers, while chunk baits are a bluefish killer. Over the last five years or more, live blowfish, legal flounder and fluke, and best of all, porgies have become top producers for stripers.
As the fall approaches and whitebait enters the equation, false albacore and bonito become a fly-casters delight. These speedsters will be crashing bait from September throughout the fall, with fish in the 10 to 15-pound class quite common. If you plan on targeting these speedsters, be aware of rocks just below the surface, as I have seen countless boats wrecked to anglers not paying attention.
As in any area in the ocean, caution should be used at all times. The area is sheltered from virtually any northwest or north wind, and it is not uncommon to see anglers enjoying the day as the north side gets pounded. With this in mind, remember, you have to head north to get back to the harbor, and the rips off the lighthouse can be downright treacherous if the current and winds collide. You do not want to ruin a great day on the water with a butt-whipping experience or worse yet, a life-threatening one on the way home. Common knowledge and boat handling skills should be known before heading out. Although not a long-range trip, you do have to navigate around the lighthouse and face different currents and winds.
The South Side of Montauk can offer a great day of action. It is pretty safe to say that if you head out with baits for striped bass, blues, fluke, sea bass, and porgies, you could catch all five! And, if you don’t, it will still be a super day on the water trying.