Surf Fishing 101 -Episode # 16- Bottle Plugs with Don Musso & Bill Wetzel plus bonus preview video

Here is a Surf Fishing 101 Bottle Plugs video with Donny Musso and Bill Wetzel

This is a  little preview of about two hours spent  in Montauk this past weekend, Full version coming later in the week


One of our readers found a cell phone in Montauk Lot over the weekend. If you know who lost i,  have it get in touch with us at




Surf Fishing Tip Of The Week # 7 Boga Grip Belt Holder

I get more questions about how to make Boga holder than anything else via email.By a country mile…

But I can’t take the credit for this invention. The credit goes to one of the best fishermen I know, my fishing partner Silverfox a.k.a. Lenny Ferro. SilverFox was the Macgyver before there was one on TV. If you see him under the light, where he probably is right now, or walking the north side in his Quigley, give him a thanks.

The Fisherman Surf Show, new shirts and video preview

We are in the process of proofreading the September issue # 39 of the Surfcaster’s Journal Online magazine

Here is a preview of videos scheduled  to appear in this issue

We hope to see some of you on the fisherman surf show Wednesday nightsurfshow_2016web

Tommy is making these shirts especially for the show only. As usual, yours  free with subscription or renewal. In addition we should have all new stickers and restocked items. But come by, shot the breeze and catch the seminarsimage000001..image000000

New SJ Gear in online store and Episode # 15, All About Rod Guides with Lou Caruso video

In case you missed it in a recent issue of the Surfcaster’s Journal Magazine

We restocked the store with bunch of items last week

Some items are brand new like these state Night Shift crew stickers


new Osprey Stickers


New SJ Catch & Release stickers (free with every store purchase)DSC_5546

The Night Shift Crew hoodies are back in stock Zip_B2-300x300dd_grande

and after a long time the Moon Girl Shirt is back in stock


as are the long sleeve Creeping While You’re Sleeping shirts4303

Hermine Diary from the East End

This blog post should really be called making the smallest adjustments, because that is what this really is about. But then again that does not sounds as sexy as Hermine Diary from the East End
Besides, everything we do while surf fishing depends greatly on making very small, calculated adjustments

20160904_083931Some people think that i don’t have much between the ears and that’s fine. Over the years I’ve caught fish by sheer perseverance,  dumb luck, by getting info from friends and many other ways that had nothing to do with my skill or ability. But this morning was different…and I don’t care what anyone says….. I feel a story coming up so grab a chair and cup off

2 30 AM Packing a truck for a run to Montauk. Not taking a single plug with me. A belt with Boga, pliers, Pork in Rockhopper Pork Rind holder and a pouch on a belt with bucktails of assorted sizes and leader wallet. That is. Plugs stay homeP1010056

5 AM pulling into Montauk lot. Jesus , is there enough trucks in the lot? Looks like an October morning!!! I put my wetsuit on in the upper lot not to bother those that are sleeping and got back into the truck. I don’t like the wind speed, I thought (was hopping) it would be more. Too many people in lot make my decision easier. South Side it isP1010053

5 30 AM on the south side. Not a single dude fishing. Zero, nada, zilch..wait…I am wrong, there is a faint light in the distance to the west. Doubt its a surfer, this wind is not what they crave (It turned out to be Bill Wetzel)

5 45 AM  Surveying the water. Not really enthralled with what I see but its not bad either. Its Good but I was expecting GREAT. Tide is at bottom and its going to build as tide comes in. Big , clean sets of white water…yummy. This is just a personal thing, but I would rather catch small fish in that mess than 30 pounders on pencil poppers and flat water. Don’t ask me why, I am weird that way. When NE goes hard I cant concentrate at work, I cant eat, I cant sleep. All I want is a bucktail hanging off my rod and pork rind.

6 30 AM Tossing 1 ounce bucktails in that crazy water. So far I managed 4 fish but I was expecting more……a lot more. But I will take it. A lot of long faces in the lot and pent up excitement. Fish have been few and far between is what I hear. Guys are starting to get on the rocks around me. Why did they wait after sunrise to show is beyond me? Maybe they are coming over from the North side ?

7 AM Still staying with 1 oz bucktail. The water is still low and you really cant work anything heavy over shallow reef yet. Then I see birds on the other side of the reef but big waves are obscuring my vision. No one has picked up fish yet in the water that looks like it should hold million, make that gazillion bass. Waves flatten out for a moment and I clearly see few fish rolling on the reef in the foam….problem is they are too far for my 1 oz bucktail. I replace it with a 1 1/2 oz Magic-tail buck and I take a Fat Cow Jig Strip which I sliced in a half lengthwise yesterday in preparation for the trip. Its narrowness cuts down on wind resistance during a cast in conditions like this, yet it still gives a jig a little flutter. Instead of diagonal casting I fire up a cast straight, and I hook up almost instantaneously.  Then I do it four more times. No one else is hooked up….20160904_181725-1

Now if you think I have a super-duper long distance rod and reel…you’d be wrong. I do not use 11 rods any longer due to some health issues. What I do use most of the time is and I did yesterday is a 10 foot Century Noreaster and VSX 250.To me a great combo but most 11 footer ill outcast me. I probably had the shortest set up of anyone there. So it wasn’t my rod, it was the adjustment on bucktail size and trailer. I saw one fish caught all morning (and when i got home I hear of one fish under the light, one on north side and one on Shag on a chunk, so basically a disaster of a day considering conditions). Granted, these fish could have just blew up in front of me and I was the only one that had a shot. In no way, shape or form do I in any way disrespecting those around me. All I am saying it that if I don’t make adjustment I do not catch those fish (probably same thing happens if I sleep past sunrise too)

8AM Hanging with Mr Wetzel and his customer. Always a pleasure. I actually asked If I can take picture with the legend. Bill is good people. Yes, he was annoyed that I was in his “spot”….lol…people like Bill is what makes Montauk great! Like The Professor or Jack Yee before him, he becomes a fabric of a place. The hardest Working Guide in The Business P1010060

9 AM in Montauk Bake Shop getting some jelly croissants for wife and kids. Line is insane but I wait and swat at bees in line. Cant come home empty handed now! Eating my Greek yogurt and cup of fruit while driving and looking at jelly croissants….20160904_084010

11 AM Not a stitch of traffic!!!!! I am in my basement doing Bulgarian Squats, presses,pushups and God knows what else for almost two hours. Wife comes home with THREE, count em’ Three  Tri-Color Cookie Donuts from Lynbrook Bakery !!!!!!!5503

I kid you not. I have a plum and a yogurt and hit the shower.Watching what you eat sucks.

Yes, there should have been 800 fish there for all to catch instead of 8. That water looked that damned good as it was flooding. The north side, to me did not look good or “big” enough yet. By Monday it should. Will anything change? I am not sure, water felt piss warm but if bait will find their way in the surf so will the fish. Good luck to all of you out there and please be safe.

2 30 AM Sitting and writing my thoughts. Time to hit the surf one more time before we say goodby to the weekend. Please be safe out there.

The Midnight Rambler -Tumbleweed Tuesday and the Montauk Changes Continue – 2016

John Papciak
The Midnight Rambler
Tumbleweed Tuesday and the Montauk Changes Continue – 2016

Ten years ago if I told you surfboards would be for sale inside Johnny’s Tackle in Montauk, there would have been calls for civil disobedience.

But this summer the fishing community took it with a yawn, the latest chapter in the transformation of Montauk.

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet. Now that Tumbleweed Tuesday (the day after Labor Day when the army of seasonal tourists have departed) is upon us, let’s start with the summer of 2016.

I could have easily titled this essay “The Empire Strikes Back,” but it would have been hard decide who the Evil Empire really is in this struggle.

Let me start with the Town Of East Hampton.

They came down hard on the partiers in 2016. They cracked down on the bars. Cyril’s did not survive and the Sloppy Tuna (with the help of some reported problems among the owners) was placed under new management. The rest, most importantly those who didn’t have permits for outdoor music, were silenced. It all sounded rather Draconian, and some locals in the business of catering to the rowdies tried to make it out to be that way. But it really wasn’t. Town Supervisor Larry Cantwell spoke last summer about nipping it at the bud – when businesses innocently expanded their footprint – and by the time trouble arrived in limos full of drunk and obnoxious city kids, it was hard to unravel the mess and figure out what the pre existing or ‘traditional’ business was all about in the first place. A quant little restaurant adds a deck, then an outdoor bar, then a small stage for an acoustic guitar, then a bigger stage with amps, then a DJ, then more of the parking lot is sacrificed to hold more people…

The Town also cracked down on illegal renting. Each Montauk homeowner wishing to rent had to register with the town before offering their house with the agencies or on-line. This included what amounted to a signed affidavit that the house was in compliance with all building and fire codes, and an agreement that there would be no short term or volume ‘share houses’ being offered via things like Air BnB. These enforcement tools, along with another year of a greater show of police enforcement in the downtown area, worked! Weekends were generally much more tame, and weekday nights were – dare I say it – sometimes described by locals as ‘kinda dead.’

The Evil Empire could also just have easily been the hipsters.

This millennial demographic most certainly filled the void left by the partiers of 2015. And if I had to choose between the two of them, I guess I’d take the man-buns. At least the hipsters generally pee where they are supposed to, and they do a better job of holding onto their liquor.

So surfboards are cool, latte is cool, especially riding around with both in a vintage Defender or Bronco. Hey, I’m sure I looked pretentious or silly at times in the 80s and 90s, so I really can’t knock them too much now. They certainly seem to have more money than I ever did when I was their age. Besides, they are almost certainly here to stay…getting a little older, a little richer. Some even have kids themselves now. There’s even a prediction out there that this will eventually help Montauk return to being a family destination. I see some of it already.

So on balance, things could be a helluva lot worse.

What about fishing? At the moment, fishing is NOT cool. Not at all. It’s kind of a blessing, but kind of sad, all at the same time. The previous -and now aging- boomer generation might be the last to really experience the old ‘fishing Montauk,’ with a hands-on appreciation of fish migrations and the local ecosystem. Fewer and fewer people will care if the squid or herring are in, or if the bass population tanks. There won’t be a bump in tackle sales, unless these millennials further explore the roots of Montauk. They will have no understanding or appreciation of casting under the lighthouse on a moonless night, watching shooting stars explode across the sky.

But alas, as the popular saying goes, ‘Less plugs in the rip.’

So Johnny’s is now a specialty coffee shop, serving clothing and custom designed surfboards made by a shaper from Australia, I’m told. They all seemed quite nice actually, Australian accents and all.image2

‘The creative team from Manhattan decided that Montauk was the perfect place for expansion,’ one of them explained to me. So they have a creative team, check.

I wanted to ask them – in keeping with Montauk traditions and all – if I could still weigh my fish out back. Maybe pose for a picture to make ‘the wall.’ But instead I just smiled and nodded as they continued to tell me how the new shop blended with the Montauk vibe – the new artisanal vibe, that is.

There have been many other changes in businesses, but the situation at Johnny’s pretty much sums it up. And besides, maybe the new owners won’t yell at customers like Johnny did. But if you do drop by for their signature macchiato and some gluten-free baked goods, it’s probably still a good idea to take your Korkers off and leave them at the door.

The prognosis for the fall?

There were a fair number of large bass stacked up in the rips just prior to this writing, and plenty of gorilla blues close in close on both the north and south sides. We might be just one good storm away from the action really lighting up.

As of this writing the beaches are all in good condition, and plenty wide for 4×4 access. We have yet to see how the replenished beach in town, supported by buried sandbags, will hold up to a good Northeast pounding. Hopefully it won’t be too unpleasant a surprise, and not too soon either.

Speaking of replenishment, the Army Corp of Engineers has proposed to rebuild rock formation under the Montauk lighthouse. The proposed rocks would be bigger, and extend well beyond the current formation. As a point of reference, the ‘Pill Box’ would be completely buried, and rocks would extend at least 20 feet further, potentially redirecting the incoming rip further east.


But with anything with the Corps, the proverbial ‘box of chocolates’ is the best way to explain it. Regardless of the proposal, in the end you just never know what you are going to get.

Just make sure you behave yourselves.

Make sure you have all your permits up to date.

Don’t assume that you won’t get ticketed parking in a town lot in the off season. (Which comes later and later each year).

If you want to have a beach bonfire on Town beaches, you are almost guaranteed to get a ticket….unless you’ve got the following:

-A shovel
-A large bucket filled with water
– A large metal tub, no fire on the sand
– No driftwood, no lumber, definitely no pressure treated wood or railroad ties

Yet again, you’ll likely be paying a bit more at the motels and restaurants. But a few of them are hoping to stay open a bit later this year. The first batch will close just after Columbus Day, the next will shutter after Veteran’s Day. But it’s really hard to pin down a specific business, they are all understandably reluctant to stick to hard dates.

-Surfcasters Tournament Sept 9 – Nov 26
-Seafood Festival Sept 10-11
-Montauk Surf Classic Sept 23-25
-Montauk Fall Festival Oct 8
-Lighthouse Holiday Lighting Nov 26