Fishing Montauk with Captain Skip

Left: Capt. Buddy Merritt, mate Dick Ridgway, angler unknown. Boat: "Caliban"; Right: Phyllis Ridgway with double header Mako sharks

March 2021

After two mild winters in a row, I guess we had it coming! In between shoveling snow, a good indoor activity is going over all of your tackle and cleaning up your equipment. I can’t stress tackle maintenance enough, seems the season has gotten shorter over the years, so why ruin a great fishing day due to lack of attention to your equipment.

Capt. Tommy Gifford (inventor of the outrigger), Mrs. McGroty, mate Dick Ridgway

Speaking of equipment, The Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission has put into law that anyone fishing for Striped Bass with natural baits, dead or alive must use non-offset circle hooks. They state that the mortality rate is much higher with the traditional “J” hook. I can understand that, because Striped Bass, like any other fish feed by vacuuming their prey in, and with any kind of slack line that hook can easily end up in their stomach. How the circle hooks work is that they get lodged in the lips of the fish as they are getting pulled back out. Commercial Codfishing using longlines is very productive using circle hooks. Shark fishing is also very productive using the circle hooks and makes catch and release so much easier when you get them alongside the boat. The hardest part about using the circle hooks is the total re-programming of your fishing technique. You no longer have to “set the hook” by swinging back hard to bury the hook in the fishes mouth. If you have been swinging on fish for many years this new approach can be quite challenging.

What you now have to do is simply either wait till the rod bends over, or just start winding slowly till the line comes tight! Do not “set the hook” or you could dislodge it or break the line. I see a lot of boats live baiting Striped Bass with the rods sitting in the rod holders, the people sitting in the chairs with their arms crossed, taking in the scenery waiting for the bite. I myself like to hold the rod and feel the bite, but focusing hard to not jerk back on the rod while getting the bite, after years of swinging back is very hard to do! Total re-programming is necessary, hence that is why the rods are in the rod holders!
Rumor has is that we may be getting a little more Black Sea Bass allocation, we’ll just have to see what actually happens. We will update all 2021 regulations as soon as the information has been made available to us. Hopefully Fluke (summer flounder) regulations will remain the same or possibly improve, keep your fingers crossed.

McGroty family, Capt. Dick Ridgway

A lot of folks are down in Florida fishing at this time. The weather has been cooperating and the fishing has been good! You have your bottom fishing along the west coast for Mangrove snappers, red & gag groupers, cobia, lane snappers, etc,etc. On the east coast there’s Sailfish, Dolphin (Mahi-Mahi), bottom fish as well and for a really big thrill Broadbill Swordfish are there for the taking From Stuart all the way down to the Keys!!

One of Montauk’s Iconic fishermen Joey “Flap Jaw” O’connor The Admiral!! passed away this past month. He was loved by everyone and had the best stories ever, and most were true. Quite a fisherman in his day, he will be missed! RIP Flappy.

There’s not much fishing to report, so I pulled out some classic pictures from the past from the Deep Sea Club and Montauk Yacht Club.

Wishing everyone a healthy, safe, rest of the winter. Spring’s right around the corner!!

~ Tight Lines, Captain Skip