The Changing Face of Montauk -by John Papciak

The Changing Face of Montauk
(Part of an occasional series)
John Papciak
Memorial Day 2016

I can’t believe Memorial Day is upon us. And why not another installment of this ongoing series…

You might remember last fall the hamlet of Montauk (which is part of the Town of East Hampton) was licking its wounds after a summer of drinking and rowdiness, thanks to an influx of 20-somethings. Even the hipsters were annoyed.

Even if you only blew into town to fish a midnight tide, you had to run a gauntlet of drunken revelers from places like the Memory Motel and The Point. A midnight cup of joe from the 7-11 could be about as stress free as getting a beer at a Rangers game at the Garden.

The good news – maybe the only good news in all of this – is that the long time residents clearly were not going to take these changes sitting down, and beginning with the 5th of July 2015, a long series of town halls and debates culminated with a bunch of new laws and enforcement actions that will have an impact on Montauk in 2016.

Some of this will be noticeable to those who combine family vacations with fishing (as I do), but I think even you day trippers (or night Hawks) may feel the effects.

Here goes-

Quite a number of drinking establishments ran up a tab over the years when in comes to code violations. To an extent, it finally caught up with them. The visual might be like your college buddy who accumulated 300 parking tickets… but still acted surprised when he came out one morning to see his Camaro finally being towed away.

Cyril’s fish house was one such establishment that collapsed under the weight of code violations. I never did get a chance to talk to Cyril (Fitzsimons) about it, but I will miss this place. Right or wrong, I never really associated it with the Montauk booze fest, maybe because it was west of Hither Hills. Maybe because – unlike the new ‘velvet rope’ type of places – there was always room for my kids and family, and he was always interested in serving food too. Well, as of last weekend it’s still boarded up. There were still rumors of it reopening as a much smaller establishment. I cannot fathom an income producing site going dormant, but we shall see.

Caio on the beach over by the train station is also gone. This was a confusing one for me, I never remember it being very crowded, but I do remember them trying to generate a buzz with an outdoor DJ.IMG_0163

The Sloppy Tuna is under new (court appointed) management. Between the reports from the courts and the old owner’s claims on Facebook, this was a train wreck that was doomed to fail, even when the town was not turning up the heat. At the moment the new management team is promising a family style restaurant – ahem, and a bar. I have a hard time believing there won’t be a long line at 11pm with kids peeing on the streets and in the dunes, and without drug deals going on along the side streets. But the police promise to be out in extra numbers again this summer, accumulating plenty of overtime.C093FE29-7D54-4AED-9B0C-F295DD93AFCF

There is now a Rental Registry in place requiring home owners to fill out a bunch of forms detailing intentions and terms to rent. East Hampton always had ordinances against share houses and frequent turnovers, but anyone could go on Craig’s List or Air BnB and see just how many local homeowners were thumbing their nose at the town. This allowed drunken revelers a place to crash for the night, but it was also a disaster for any local homeowner coming to realize their neighbor had indeed rented to the Delta House. ‘FOOD FIGHT” While this will not prevent flagrant violations of law on rentals, it just might give police and town inspectors enough ammunition to know what they are dealing with at certain addresses. Early accounts suggest fewer homeowners are offering their houses for rent in 2016. Here again, we shall see.D4DFD3BB-A47C-4631-9224-0EE3467D9FBC

On the fishing front, the most obvious thing you will notice is that Johnny’s Tackle is gone. A ‘For Rent’ sign that was up earlier this spring is now gone, and as of last weekend the windows were covered in newspaper. I have no Intel on this whatsoever, but I kind of doubt another tackle shop will make it here. We don’t need another surfer themed organic fusion spiritual speciality food shop, staffed by dudes with man buns from Williamsburgh, but I guess we shouldn’t act too surprised if one pops up here.

Over on the beach ‘behind town’ get ready for a ‘new and improved’ dune. Despite protests from local environmentalists the Army Corp did get their way. As of now the overall beach is slightly wider, but because so much it is now fenced off as protected dune, you might find it a little tight to navigate back and forth in your 4×4. I sure did at high tide. I guess I’m so used to seeing this at many other places that the shock value is long gone. Sand moves and beach profiles change rapidly, but humans do have a very hard time dealing with change. There is no jetty, thank god, but there are ‘geotextile’ sand bags buried under three feet of sand and in the dunes. If you want to see what they look like, take a drive down after a really good Nor’easter.9C09F795-6D4A-48BF-9E73-F05AF8BE7007

Otherwise, I think you can expect pretty much the same Montauk, hopefully a bit toned down from 2015.

Sure, prices are up for both lodging and food (we ate at the new Dureay’s last weekend, $18 for a ‘side’ of fries, I kid you not).

But if the last few weeks are any guide, fishing pressure has been off. The parking lots so far have been relatively quiet, and some nights I’ve gone a few hours without seeing another fisherman. That said, do make sure you have the proper permits, and don’t assume the police won’t be patrolling the town lots after hours – those days are long gone.

And finally, if you do decide to finish the night with a bonfire, make sure you know the rules. This is one more ‘freedom’ that is under review due to so many complaints of un safe fires, very drunk people, and lots of garbage left behind.

I’m seeing more people displaying #respectmontauk in front of businesses and on bumper stickers. It’s got a bit of momentum, but the real test will come over the next two months.FullSizeRender

Surf Fishing 101 Episode # 8 video- Montauk Night plugs

Of all the things, colors when it comes to surf plugs are probably the most controversial, debated and disputed topic. There are those who claim that their opinions are “gospel” and others who will venture far to the other side and claim colors are irrelevant and size, profile and action is what you should be taking in consideration instead. Black plugs on dark night, white plugs on bright nights.

green plugs when its raining money?

You know what? All those things can be 100% correct

I wish people would just go back and fish “for themselves” and enjoy the sport for what it is. You like only black plugs, go at it. You are more of a tutti-frutti pencil popper dude, more power to you. What I found over the years is that just about any combination of colors  will catch fish..sometimes

However, you can find keyboard fisherman on the internet that are looking to put you down…all the time

That is why I was happy when I interviewed Bill Jakob and he started to talk about how colors do not exist and how he only sees “shades”. Wrong or not, it works for him and to me that is gold. A different and original perspective is hard to find these days. Honest one and based on experience even harder . Picking a good plugs for Montauk Surf is not difficult (cough darter, caught bucktail) Picking a guy that is willing to share his hard earned knowledge is little harder


Blues and more blues

Thursday I made a first cast in the Month of May. It wasn’t much of a cast, with seven foot St Croix Legend rod and Penn Clash 4500 you can only cast a half an ounce bucktail so far, but its a start. I wasn’t expecting this after losing almost two seasons to elbow tendinitis but I guess its a price of getting old. Spent more time vertically this month than standing up. My back went out, I severely strained my hamstring and yeah, I even started a physical therapy for my knee. The elbow? The elbow is so inflamed that I cannot even fathom setting a hook on a fish. This time its not tendinitis but instead its on the inside of the elbow, golfer’s elbow they call it. Dr. said lets fix your knee and well work on your elbow in the summer.


But you know what happened ,right? That pesky thing called Murphy’s Law reared its ugly head but honestly I cant say that I was too upset. I’ve seem some jumbo and I mean JUMBO blues this spring, mostly by playing internet fisherman and browsing FB. But getting nailed by 18 pound chopper on a first cast and having to fight it with a 7 foot rod…lets just it kicked my ass (and elbow)20140507_190218

It got me thinking as I would bring the gorilla to the rocks, only to see it peel off 50 yards and start the process of pumping and reeling the fish in. This went on few times but each run was less and less convincing and probably powerful too. Why do some people refer to “cranking” power of a reel? I never felt that cranking was something we do in surfcasting at all? After all , if you are cranking , what’s the rod doing? My opinion has always been that we should let rod fight (and tire) the fish along with a drag. With drag being complimentary benefit, not really designed to tire the fish but more to relieve the stress on a line by a sudden pull of a fish. Keeping a good bend in the rod is what stresses and subdues the fish. But hey, weird stuff goes through you head when you are not fishing for awhile. And yes, that fishing kicked my ass so bad my elbow was burning mad all day friday (could not really explain that to the boss in terms he would care)

From what I read, many of you are having an absolutely awesome spring, especially the NJ contingent. Hopefully it will shared by everyone coast wide.

I meet with SJ Rod Guru Lou Caruso this morning while the rest of you were in church or fishing and we shot some videos..haha

stay tuned for thatgeeks green

Enough typing, back to icing something,,,what I have not decided yet,…go get them

Cape Cod Canal- What’s in your bag, video with Dave Anderson

After a long wait, stripers have started to infiltrate just about all of theirs usual locations. The migration is on the way with the main body of large fish still ways away from reaching its northern range in Massachusetts and Maine. But they are coming and we have already seen  one of the better spring runs in New Jersey this year and lets hope that it continues northward.

No doubt about it that cape Cod Canal has been an epicenter of blitz fishing last few yeas. In my opinion it has surpassed Montauk as “the” destination  along the striper coast. Unfortunately in recent years Montauk has lost its white bait blitzes , either due to lack of fish, bait or different migration patterns, one cant know for sure. But its clearly evident something is a bit “off”. Hopefully with dominant 2011 class of fish in the surf the good times will return soon, but till then many will alter their plans around moon tides and camp out at the Canal. Does it make it that much more crowded? You bet. But that is the nature of the beast, regardless what place is hot, it will receive attention from increased number of anglers looking to cash in on the action.

Surfcaster’s Journal Online Magazine managing editor Dave Anderson has been fishing the Big Ditch for many years and is more than qualified to give advice on what works for him when to comes to lure selection when fishing the canal. As always, these things are very subjective, there is a dude out there that will be upset because someone does not mention a pink Bomber as  their goto lures or a 14 oz cod jig.

Here is a look at Dave’s Canal Bag in a new video from the Surfcaster’s Journal Magazine

StormR Waterproof Cell Jacket with Automatic Closure Giveaway

Tommy is putting together May issue of the Surfcaster’s Journal magazine and as soon as we proof read the new issue, we’ll make it live. Looks like a lot of great new content coming up plus three new Surf Fishing 101 videos

While we wait for a day or two for this to take place lets have a nice giveaway for our readers

One winner picked randomly  by the app will receive StormR Waterproof Smart Phone Cell Jacket…it automatically closes when phone is inserted. Of course you can use it for keys or other thing (bunker chunks not recommended)

In my opinion, the most simplistically brilliant cell phone protector ever invented. I have been using mine from the day they came out with great results although I should mention that I would never fish with my cellphone while using a wetsuit.Here is a video we shot about it awhile ago




Enter the StromR Giveaway bellow by entering your email address

Good Luck


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How long do you fish the spot ?

As I was patiently waiting for bluefish to arrive one thought has been spinning in my head on continuous basis. You’ll understand why as I fill you in on exactly how I was  prospecting for these fish but I am curious of how many of you look at your spots

I have few spots that I’ve written about them before.  One is where Bob lived until a guy in Grady White ate him. It seems like he also ate his cousins BillyBob and Billy Ray, his niece Babbette and his brother Bobby. This kind of spot, if you showed up at “right” tide and wind , you were guaranteed fish over the years. Sometimes on the 5th cast , sometimes on a first but they would be there. It would change slightly over the year. First, big blues would show up late April or early May, then small bass in May. Eventually some weakfish would filter in and small bay blues. June was a shmagosboard, usually blues in daytime and bass and weakfish in dark and so on..In August it was almost 90 % weakfish. Did I ever get skunked there ? Hell yeah, even when fishing was good. Sometimes fish are just not there but when they were there, you usually knew within 5 casts. It could be because you really do not need a rod to fish some of these spots as the rip is literally 5 yards from shore.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I call this my 5 minute spot. For example three times last week I drove to it, made 20 (and that is too many) short 30 feet cast and left. If blues were there I expected them on first and every cast. It sure would not take 20 casts for them to announce their presence. This takes about 5 to 10 minutes and then I am gone, on the way home. I know to some of you , preparation, driving 1/2 hour than walking 15 minutes to a spot to make 10 casts and then going back home seems stupid..or at least a little insane. But I don’t have an intern to send him to my spots to check it out. Yes, I can read on FB where this fish are and I can go there, but at this point in my life I probably won’t. I will either catch fish my way in places where I want or stay home. My days of running around chasing reports are long over.

So this spot, even during summer when there are more fish available, i treat the same way. Five to 10 minutes and I am gone to either next place or back home. Usually during the season I will have few more similar spots in vicinity i can hit along the way. Sometimes it works, sometimes it does not.

I don’t fish sandy beaches away from inlets (for example in my area that would be RM5, Gilgo or SP) that often. You probably will find me closer to any of LI inlets, usually on the west side and at a particular tide. So when I do fish the sand, for example Gilgo beach, after about 10 casts I ask myself “why am I here?” If I don’t see any bait or fish caught, I’ll probably lose interest in ten to fifteen minutes. Now place me a mile east at Sore Thumb on outgoing current and similar structure , my mindset changes dramatically. I am willing to “wait out” to see if anything will happen for an hour or two as the current either increases or decreases.

I should mention that all the things, tide, current, wind time of the season and so on are equally important and can each be THE only reason why you have a banner night or get a skunk. Having said that, the tide level is the one that I am concerned with the least. Since 99% of my time is spend fishing the current flow, the tide is almost irrelevant to me. In Jones Inlet the current will start flowing out an hour or so after high tide where in Fire Island inlet few miles east the current may start flowing out MANY hours after high tide.P1010041r455555555aaa

So those kind of spots , I can do an hour or two…or three. Very rarely will I fish the spot longer. Even if its fish on ever cast, after awhile I’ll go back to my truck for camera. Its just the way my brain works. I’ve fish with friends who like to fish the ENTIRE current cycle in the inlet, hoping the fish will be at first of ebb, then middle, then last.

So is there a place where I can fish for hours at the time even if i am NOT catching? Only one that I’ve ever found. I can spend ten hours on rock at Cuttyhunk casting into nothing. Hell, I’ve done it and did not complain once. Why? Probably because I am the least familiar with that place. Going there once or twice a year is not enough to understand it or know what works with consistency. Yeah, you might figure out the tide but there is wind, bait and other things that you did not. When fishing in MTK for example 99.9% of places you fish, at some point you are going to run out of water,they will get too shallow. In Cuttyhunk, you can swim to rocks a 100 yards of shore where at low tide you are casting at 18 feet of water! That is a big difference

And yeah, having  blues show up on the last day of April with vengeance was fun..Zeno-4