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Sports Center

Oct 15, 2019 10:47 AMPublication: The East Hampton Press & The Southampton Press

The Return Of The Googs!

Chris Capalbo and a lot of anglers stumbled onto red-hot fishing for big striped bass outside Shinnecock Inlet over the weekend.
Oct 15, 2019 11:31 AM

Montauk is back, baby! And I mean that in both a good way and a bad way.

It’s been a joy to watch the return of the striped bass fishing to the rocky shorelines around Montauk Point. But mostly it’s been funny to see how the resurgence of the fishing, combined with a pretty dismal fishery almost everywhere else, has brought back the days of googan tomfoolery.

I mentioned to a friend the other day that I’d seen more out-of-town trucks with rods on their roofs in Montauk in the last week than I’d seen in the last five years. Last Tuesday, even as the bass blitzes were firing off on the North Side for the umpteenth day in a row, I passed a steady stream of trucks I’d never seen before heading west after what had already probably been an extended weekend.

A lot of these trucks are clearly sharpies who made the trek to Montauk even though most of the fish being caught are very small, simply because there are few, if any, striped bass to be had along the shores west of Fire Island. But a lot of them also are hauling the hordes of inexperienced or not especially skilled fishermen from all over the tri-state area, for whom the blitzes in Montauk present a rare opportunity to have a truly spectacular day of catching, not just fishing.

We are not quite back to the days when the blitzes drew hundreds and hundreds of anglers to Montauk Point, dozens lining up shoulder to shoulder in Turtle Cove alone. But a lot of the old behavior has come flooding back.

There’s something about the frenzied, churning schools of bass pushing into the beach that makes people lose their usual sense of rationality, or, at the very least, some of their motor skills.

Casting sideways over a half dozen other lines. Attempting to run on a rocky shoreline that is difficult even to keep up a balanced hopscotch on. Ladies fishing in footwear better suited to a city sidewalk. Fishing tackle wholly unsuited to the Montauk surf.

You name it, we’ve seen it all come flooding back with the return of the blitzes.

But we’ve also seen trucks lined up outside tackle shops and delis, and pizza places and restaurants filled with more than just the posh crowd that has taken up residence in Montauk.

There is certain to be a handful of locals who are lamenting the return of the crowds to the Montauk beach, especially since the blitzes haven’t brought much more in the way of big fish.

Speaking of big fish: We may have missed them. Between the two big blows we’ve had in the past two weeks, a slug of big striped bass suddenly appeared in the surf off Montauk’s South Side. Then, last week’s nor’easter stormed in and kicked up the surf. And then, all of a sudden last weekend, there were big stripers gobbling sandeels off Shinnecock, Moriches and Fire Island.

This is not a good sign. The main body of large striped bass has gotten so small and isolated that I fear this may have been it, going right past the South Fork under the cover of muddy water.

Cross your fingers, everyone, that there is another slug of them still to come.

Catch ’em up. See you out there.

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