Red Hill Capos Go Surfcasting ’09: Prologue

A Keeper Before the Storm


It was the best of times in 2008.

It was the worst of times in 2009.

At least as far as weather conditions for the Red Hill Gang’s annual surfcasting trip to Montauk, LI, the surfcasting capital of the world.

Birds danced above big white water that piled on the beaches driven by a fierce nor'easter

Birds danced above big white water that piled on the beaches driven by a fierce nor'easter

We had high winds and pissy rain on Thursday, and conditions got progressively worse with each day, right through Sunday. Big winds and big water got bigger and badder with each day. “Get Ready to get wet,” I told the boys who had only known idyllic conditions from an unseasonably mild weekend last October when the fishing was absolutely stupid with keeper-bass and gangster-bluefish blitzes around the clock.

This year, not so much. A fierce nor’easter turned this year’s trip snotty as could be and the only recourse was to find a patch of white water that looked good and fish it. And the few of us who did, reaped rewards.

Big Bob Wilsusen was on hand to help guide in the second truck since I expected a full complement of six Red Hill “Capos” for this year’s event. Vinny, absent last year when the fishing was insanely great, was coming back to make up for the skunk he experienced in 2007. Before the crew arrived from various points west and south, however, there was scouting and cooking to get done. So Big Bob and I rendezvoused for “full force” recon at oh-dark-thirty.

Reports had all the action pinned in Montauk village. Small cocktail blues and short stripers had been the consistent catch for a week or so; Nothing more. We paid a cursory visit to the town beach before moving on to Mecca: Montauk Point. There we braved wind and rain in our face as we chased the fish all around the  Lighthouse, from south side to northside before I finally got well on our last effort.

Big Bob says I was rewarded at the 11th hour for my perseverance. However, I tend to think I was forgiven for my rookie tactical error. Whatever; The result was a 29 inch keeper bass taken on a bottle plug thrown into the jaws of the nor’easter  near the beach entrance between False Point and Jones Reef at high noon.

This 29-inch keeper was either my reward for perseverance or forgiveness for my rookie tactical error

This 29-inch keeper was either a reward for my perseverance or forgiveness for my rookie tactical error

Winds that morning were NNE at 20- to 30-mph with gusts up to 40 mph plus. Water was piled up across the beaches, reaching to the weeds at North Bar and there was no access at the entrance beyond a small rocky ledge near Jones Reef. We first went into Camp Hero and from the bluff saw fish blitzing in a tight pod amid the rocks below. I didn’t think there’d be a parking spot at Turtle Cove, so we drove to the Sewer Pipe instead and tried to catch up with the fish by “doing the walk” east. Big mistake. We kept coming up short and by the time we had humped our way to Turtle Cove the fish had been there and gone. That is, all but those that were caught—and there were quite a few, including the six that George of the Jungle was stringing up and tagging for sale.

George Of The Jungle: Pin Hooker Extraordinaire

Later, when we saw George’s truck near the North Bar, the cooler box was literally bursting at the lid with tagged bass. George is a pin hooker who gets a set number of tags each year from New York State, which allows him to keep and sell fish as small as 24-inches. No two-fish, 28-inch limit for George. He can keep as many as he wants, so long as he has sufficient tags.

And quite the fisherman is George. So good you would think he’d smile now and then. But he doesn’t. Even on this day, as he continued to nail fish after fish at the North Bar, casting bucktails with a handful of other local sharpies, George was as grim-faced as ever.

George of the Jungle's Fishbox was teeming with tagged bass caught at Turtle Cove and the North Bar

George of the Jungle's Fishbox was teeming with tagged bass caught at Turtle Cove and the North Bar

Big Bob and I fished right next to this group, and we got nary a hit. Birds were working and it seemed like we were on the fish that had rounded the Point. No big fish came up, but those who were catching got hits very close in. Bob and I moved over to the Stepping Stones where we could see an armada of vehicles in Oyster Pond Cove. But birds were working their way towards us so we stood our ground and fished. We were mugged shortly by a handful of other sharpies who began hooking up and adding to our frustration. I switched to a 3-ounce bottle plug to cut through the wind and keep from getting hung up n the rocky bottom. Finally, I got a hit. It was a fat little bass, probably loaded with sand eels bait. But he came up short of 28-inches, so back in the drink he went.

By now the rain and wind had picked up significantly. Bob and I returned to the truck and headed for the barn. “Are we done?” I asked. “For sure”, Bob answered. “I agree,” said I, “unless that is a blitz up ahead.” And it was. As we approached the beach exit, birds were flapping and squawking above the rocks in casting range. We were in the water in seconds and for a few minutes, we had the location all to ourselves. I raised one fish on my bottle plug which was doing a decent job of cutting through the wind. Two casts later, I got a solid hit and the fish turned out to be just the right size for our cooler box: a 29-inch keeper. At once, we were mugged by a whole slew of sharpies and that was our signal to go home.We quit at 1230pm. I took the rest of the day off to prepared meals for the Red Hill Capos and later in the afternoon I brought my fish to Annie Sessler the Fish Rub artist.

Click here for Photo Gallery of Red Hill Capos Go Surfcasting 2009

My Striper print was produced by Annie Sessler of East End Fish Prints in Montauk

My striper print was produced by Annie Sessler of East End Fish Prints in Montauk

One Response to “Red Hill Capos Go Surfcasting ’09: Prologue”

  1. Felix Fanti says:

    Breddie- you know you can’t use my real name when you publish the book !!!!!!!!!

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