Surfcasting is fishing from the shore, the beach, or rocks or a pier — as opposed to from a boat. (In Britain, it’s called beach casting.) Beach casting or surfcasting; it happens only in saltwater. Fishing by line from shore in freshwater is fishing, but it’s not surfcasting. You may ask, where is the surfcasting capital of the World?
The surfcasting capital of the World is in Montauk, New York. Montauk is a village at the east end of the Long Island peninsula in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s home to Montauk Point State Park and the 1976 Montauk Point Lighthouse.
Why is it the surfcasting capital of the World? Two reasons. First, it claims the name for itself. Second, it may hold more world saltwater fishing records than any other spot on Earth.
Where is the Surfcasting Capital of the World?
Montauk is a hamlet included in the town of East Hampton in Suffolk County, New York. It lies on the eastern end of the south shore of Long Island. Montauk has a population of roughly 3,326 people. Montauk has hosted bases for the Army, Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force.
Now, it’s known as a major tourist destination and includes six state parks. It’s best known for its fishing (both recreational and commercial). No less an authority than ESPN has declared Montauk as the surf fishing capital of the World.
What are Montauk’s top Fish Species?
At the tip of Long Island, an angler is roughly 20 miles away from the mainland and into the Atlantic. There are a huge number of species of fish that migrate to and from Long Island Sound. Here are some of the most prominent species of fish caught in Montauk waters:
- Mako sharks
- Blue sharks
- Thresher sharks
- Tiger sharks
- Hammerhead sharks
- Bluefin tuna
- Yellowfin tuna
- Albacore tuna
- Striped bass
- Fluke (Flounder)
Where and When to Visit?
Bluefin tuna arrive in late June, followed by the rest of the tuna species and all of the shark species by July. In August, the bluefin tuna depart northward but return in Montauk’s September peak season.
Anglers chasing striped bass arrive in September and October, though they have a short spring run as well. Fluke can be caught all summer long.
If you want to time your visit according to inshore tournaments, watch for the Montauk Surf Fishing Classic and the Montauk Mercury Grand Slam.
Here are some Montauk fishing spots frequently recommended for surf casters:
- Montauk Lighthouse
- Turtle Cove
- The “Browns,” a rocky spot south of Montauk Lighthouse
- Shagwong Breach (with a special permit)
- Ditch Plains
- North and False Bars
- Camp Hero
- Land of the Giants
In January 2016, onthewater.com named Montauk, one of The 9 Best Striper Fishing Towns in the Northeast.
In March 2019, sportfishingmag.com named Montauk, one of the 11 Best Fishing Spots in the World. They recommend going in September and October (with the chance that a season may extend into November and December).
What World Fishing Records Were Set at Montauk?
Montauk, New York claims to be home to nearly 40 world record catches. Is it any wonder that it’s called and calls itself the surfcasting capital of the World? Here’s a sampling of Montauk’s records.
The longest black sea bass ever caught — 55.0 cm — was caught by Wesley C. Winters at Montauk Shoal in August 2013.
The M-03 kg Line Class World Record bluefish — 20 lb, 1 oz — was caught by Jeff Schneider in Montauk in 1977.
The World’s largest bluefin tuna — 39 pounds — was caught by Chuck Mallinson while jigging off of Montauk in October 1983.
The largest blue shark ever caught is 528 pounds, and was caught off Montauk by Joe Seidel after a fight that lasted for over two and one-half hours.
Until a 24.3-pound Fluke surpassed the record caught off Bradley Beach, New Jersey, a 22 lb 7 oz fluke caught off Montauk in 1975 was the world record holder.
The Tippet M-01 kg Class World Record for Atlantic bonito was set by Stephen Sloan at Montauk in 1988 at 5 lb, 15 oz.
The M-03 kg Line Class World Record for pollock was set in Montauk at 26 lb 12 oz by Diana Barry in 1989.
In July 1966, angler Bob Rocchetta set a new world record for striped bass with a 76-pounder caught at Montauk Point.
In October 1984, Mrs. Toby Grossman set the W-02 kg Line Class World Record for tautog at 8 lb in Montauk.
The M-Junior and Smallfry World Record for wahoo was set by Bobby Krug at Montauk in 2007 at 114 pounds.
In May 1966, angler Bea Harry set a W-24 kg Line Class World Record for porbeagle shark at 238 lb, 8 oz in Montauk.
July 1984 saw Lynnette Pintauro set the W-24 kg Line Class for thresher shark at 448 lb in Montauk.
In 1959, Dorothen Cassello set the W-24 kg Line Class World Record for swordfish at Montauk Point at 492 lb, 4 oz.
In July 1986, Bill Sweedler spent eight hours fighting and landing a 14-foot and 1,174-pound blue marlin off Montauk Point that beat the previous state record of 940 pounds.
Catches included a 1,087-pound tiger shark and an 892-pound mako shark.
That 892-pound mako shark caught in July 1986 was impressive but fell short of the world record mako that weighed in at 1,080 pounds when caught off Montauk in 1979.
In August 1986, Frank Mundus caught a 3,450-pound great white shark off Montauk with a rod and reel. It was 800 pounds larger than the previous record-holder caught with rod and wheel.
It didn’t make the International Game Fish Association record book since it was caught with a 150-pound test tackle, and the IGFA stipulates a maximum 130-pound test. (By the way, do you recognize that name Frank Mundus? He inspired the character “Quint” in the movie Jaws.)
Montauk Rocks, the Movie
Speaking of Jaws, there was a movie made about the Montauk fishing scene and the anglers who built and sustained it. The movie Montauk Rocks, directed by Richard Siberry, was released in 2012.
You can purchase the movie on DVD on Amazon. Reviewers have said it’s a “good watch” if you’ve never fished in Montauk, and a “must-see” if you have.
A less enthusiastic review noted that there was too much “griping over nothing” and not enough “white knuckle exploration of surfcasting.”
What is “Skishing?”
As if there weren’t enough reasons to confidently proclaim Montauk as the surfcasting capital of the World, there is one more. In 1995, Montauk became the birthplace of an “extreme surfcasting” sport called skishing.
Someone who “skishes” — a “skisher” presumably — wears a buoyant wetsuit and swims out from shore with flippers while carrying a surfcasting rod and perhaps live eels. Montauk cabinet maker Paul Melnyk invented Skishing.
In his mind, skishing is a lot like skiing. How so? “If you hook a fish over thirty pounds, it will generally take you for a ride.”
Montauk is very popular for surfcasting. This place also considered one of the best places to catch trophy striped bass. Every angler should add Montauk into their bucket lists.