But hopefully the pictures taken by Tosh Brown and Pete McDonald will make it into the book they are working on. I was part of a little photo shoot today in Montauk. I told the two guys listed above to meet me at 3:00 in the parking lot of the East Deck Motel in Montauk as the fish would be there at 3:10. Weather conditions were perfect!
Cloudy with areas of drizzle. Windy with lows in the upper 40s. Northeast winds 20 to 30 mph
When I got to the lot Tosh and Pete were putting their waders on but had not even looked at the water. I drove right by them to the beach and saw a hundred bird picking bait out of the whitewater. I yelled "ya better hurry they are here now" It was 3:10.
I hopped out to the end of the short jetty and began taking fish on just about every cast. Nothing huge but still fun. The rain and the wind picked up and so did the waves. 3 hours later I was still into fish. Fall in Montauk! I love it.
Being a fishing guide is a tough way to make a living. It's physically and mentally demanding and the pay is not that great (unfishable weather can break you). Top it off, most guides never get a chance to fish as they are usually driving, drifting, or walking their clients around guiding them to catch the fish of their dreams. I've been been out with guides all over the country and I always ask them "do you ever get to fish?" and the answer is usually something like "not much, I'm always guiding and when i'm not guiding I'm sleeping or paying bills". Some guides claim that they get great pleasure from guiding their clients to that special fish. I'm not a guide but I love taking people out fishing in Montauk and am indeed truly excited when they catch fish but having to watch people catch fish all day long would drive me crazy (heck, reading reports of people catching fish when I'm at work makes me crazy).
I realized while on the subway the other day that surf guide Bill Wetzel seems to have figured it out. (I've written about him before but if you don't know who he is, visit his website www.longislandsurffishing.com psst..if you subscribe you get his fishing reports) He's a guide, but he fishes with his clients....and even when he's not out with a client, he still goes out fishing just to stay in touch with where the fish are. Imagine that... "honey I'm off to Montauk"..."Do you have a client tonight?"... "No but i do in a few days and I need to stay on the bite". Bill has been fishing Montauk for over 20 years and while no one will ever have that place dialed in, he has an amazing understanding of where to fish and when. Sure, you can pick up the basics online "outgoing tide on the North side, incoming on the South" or search further "incoming from Kings to Caswells and beyond and outgoing from Browns around to the North side", "Incoming under the light", "hard NW wind in fall, fish Shag on the outgoing", and so on. But if you fish Montauk as much as Bill you start to gain real insight into the place.
He has a day job too (did I mention he mostly fishes at night?). By day, Bill is a social worker who deals with seriously and persistently ill adults. I can only assume that this a very mentally taxing job, so guiding clients must be a breeze right? Not so fast... Fishing in Montauk is not easy. Maybe not mentally taxing, but it's a very physically demanding place to fish which often involves LONG walks over small boulders that tweak your ankles with every step, not to mention a constant pounding of waves trying to knock you off your perch once you get there
Last year Bill did about 160 trips. That's a lot! I fish in Montauk - MAYBE - 50 or 60 days a year and my wife thinks I fish a lot?
So, when you book a trip with Bill it's like going fishing with a buddy. Don't get me wrong, he is very attentive to all his clients needs. He will give you a casting lesson if you are new to the surf, he'll pick out the best rock for you to stand on, he'll put a new eel on if yours goes sailing off into the night or gets clipped by a blue, and he'll jump from his rock to help you land that 40 pounder. What more could you ask for?
So has he figured it out? I doubt I could ever be satisfied with the amount of days I fish but 160 sure beats 60.