MONTAUK'S FAVORITE SUMMERTIME THREESOME
by Milt Rosko

Throughout my travels along the seacoast I?ve always enjoyed bottom fishing. While the fishing is fun, the catching is still more fun, especially when the quarry is sea bass, porgies and fluke

As I recall my first visits to Montauk I start to feel I?m aging, something I suspect I?ll never admit. But the significant thing about looking back is the fishing today is just as good, if not better, than what is customarily referred to as "the good old days."

Of late I?ve been using tackle that makes it a delight when seeking Montauk?s big three bottom feeders. My favorite bottom fishing outfit centers around a Daiwa Saltist reel that?s designed for use with braided line. It?s a small reel that you can cup in your hand nicely as you bounce bottom, yet holds 360 yards of 50-pound test braided line. Importantly, the reel has a 4.9:1 gear ration and retrieves a remarkable 47.2 inches of line with each turn of the reel handle. I load the reel with 50-pound test Ande yellow color braided line, as its fine diameter is comparable to 15-pound test mono. The advantage is that with the 50-pound test you can easily pull free of the bottom snags you?ll frequently encounter. The bonus with braid is that it has no stretch, telegraphing the strikes up to the rod the instant you feel a bite.








I use a Daiwa Eliminator rod that measures seven-feet in overall length, and would even recommend an eight-foot rod if you plan to fish on the party boats. Graphite is light in weight and a good choice, but e-glass is also tough and effective, especially when lifting fish aboard. The rod has a stripper guide, six ring guides and a roller tiptop, a perfect combination when using braided line.

Most of the major manufacturers such as Daiwa, Shimano, Penn, and others are producing gear along the lines of what I?ve just described.

I?ve taken to tying my own rigs, and keeping them simple. The high-low rig is my favorite for porgies and bass. I use 30 or 40-pound test Seaguar fluorocarbon leader material, as it?s invisible in the water, and if the fish are finicky, as is occasionally the case, this can make a difference.

I tie a large surgeon?s loop to the end of a three-foot long piece of fluorocarbon onto which I can slip a large bank style sinker of sufficient weight to hold bottom, usually four to eight-ounces. About six inches from the sinker tie in a dropper loop, followed by a second dropper loop a foot above the first. Complete the rig by tying a tiny Spro power swivel to the remaining end of the leader, which in turn is tied to the terminal end of your line. Then slip a pair of snelled hooks onto each of the dropper loops and you?re all set to bait up. A third dropper loop and hook can be added if you wish.

It?s wise to carry a selection of hook sizes snelled to fluorocarbon. I try to tailor the size hook I?m using to the size of the sea bass and porgies being encountered. If you were anchored on a patch of bottom loaded with small porgies you?d be wise to employ No. 3 or 4 hooks, whereas if big sea bass prevail it?s appropriate to use No. 1 through 2/0 sizes. Even with hooks, make certain you?re using state of the art. Discard any old rusted hooks, and employ the excellent quality provided by such brands as Eagle Claw, Mustad, Owner, Gamakatsu or VMC. I favor the basic Claw or Beak styles with an offset point, as they have excellent hooking quality for these species

Porgies and sea bass are among the most adept bait stealers you?ll ever encounter. It?s wise to use a small piece of bait that?s threaded onto the hook. Surf clams and squid are the preferred bait for both species. A strip that?s half-an-inch wide by three inches in length is a good beginning, as a porgy or sea bass can inhale it with ease. The key, however, is anticipating the strike. As you lower your rig to the bottom



don?t be daydreaming. As soon as the sinker touches down you?ll often feel the sharp rap, tap, tap, which is a porgy or bass at your bait. Respond immediately, and lift back smartly to set the hook and begin reeling. To delay will result in your hook being stripped clean.

Aboard the party and charter boats the mates will often chum the area with crushed clams. When we fish these grounds a chum pot, and several logs of frozen ground clams as chum are aboard. As the chum pot with a frozen log of chum is lowered to the bottom it begins to thaw, with the current carrying the tiny pieces of clam along the bottom, which really turns the porgies and bass on, but isn?t enough to feed them. Proof is in the cleaning, as you?ll find the tiny pieces in their stomachs.

Drifting for fluke at Montauk can begin as soon as you clear the jetties of Montauk Harbor, or in the rips off from the Lighthouse, and especially along the South Shore beaches all the way to Hither Hills State Park. Catching fluke today differs greatly from years ago. In days gone by we delighted in catching 14 to 16-inch fluke for the table, and really weren?t that interested in the doormats. But today we?ve got regulations to live with.

Here?s where that old adage of "big baits catch big fish" pays dividends. I?ve been using a rig that combines a chrome ball jig and strip bait, including the Jelly Bellys, Fluke Bullets and Bait Tails made by Ralph Votta of West End Fishing Tackle, along with a second hook sporting a strip bait.

Begin with a three-foot long piece of 30-pound test Seaguar fluorocarbon leader material. Tie a duo-lock snap to one end of the leader, and a Spro power swivel to the other. Next tie a dropper loop about 24-inches from the snap. Complete the rig by slipping an Owner Boa Rig onto the dropper loop, utilizing about three feet of its leader material. The Boa Rig is a two-hook rig, which enables you to utilize a large strip bait, with the lead hook adjustable, while the trailing or "stinger hook" is set back in the middle of the bait.

The final step is to add a chrome ball jig to the duo-lock snap ? instead of a sinker - of sufficient weight to hold bottom. I carry chrome balls ranging from two to eight-ounces in weight, which have an O?Shaughnessy style hook with a tuft of bucktail. To enhance the effectiveness of the jig I add a stinger hook with a two-inch leader, attached to the curve of the "J" hook, which enables me to utilize a large strip bait with the jig.

I cut strips from the largest squid available. I cut the strips into a torpedo shape, eight to ten-inches in length, by about one-and-one quarter inches in width, so they flutter enticingly as they?re drifted along the bottom. Don?t cut the strip too wide, as you don?t want the stinger hook point to lie over and become imbedded in the strip. I?ve had good results with strips cut from legal-size fluke belly, sea robins, and dogfish.

Most recently I?ve enjoyed fine results with Gulp synthetic bait. Berkley?s Gulp is now available in sheets, which are easily cut into strips using a scissor, and it emits 400% more scent than natural baits.

The key with this rig is using a ball or torpedo-shaped jig of sufficient weight to bounce bottom while keeping the line as near perpendicular to the bottom as possible, which gives you total control. Lower the rig to the bottom as you drift along, and use your rod tip to gently bounce the jig on the bottom, with just a six-inch movement of the rod tip. This causes the jig and its strip to bounce off the bottom, while the trailing strip bait on the Boa Rig flutters enticingly above and beyond the jig.

I?ve always enjoyed the best fluking when the wind?s been huffing and puffing. This gives you a fast drift, where you cover a lot of bottom, which results in more aggressive strikes than are the case on a flat calm day with little drift.

Should you hook a doormat, reel it to within two-feet of the surface, and then guide it into the submerged open bag of a landing net. Don?t reel it to the surface where it can thrash about and pull free of the hook.

A must during summer is to always, but always, carry ice and immediately place your catch on ice. I utilize a 64-quart Coleman Extreme wheeled cooler, as it can be wheeled from the car to the boat with ease. On the way in I?ll fillet the catch, or have the mates do so, packing the fillets in plastic bags, and immediately burying them in the crushed ice. This ensures that the fillets arrive home in mint condition for delicious fish dinners served with Long Island?s great tomatoes and fresh picked corn on the cob!








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