Mid August cows…by Bill Wetzel

By Bill Wetzel

It was Mid-August and I had been doing the night shifts targeting the big girl’s deeeeeeep on Montauks south side. On a morning that I had not fished I awoke at 6am to NE winds 5-10 knots, and light rain. After the morning caffeine had kick started my brain I began thinking about how I was going to approach another late night session. On the way to the day job I turned on NOAA to hear a robots voice screech the forecast, “NE winds 5-10 knots becoming 30-40knots this afternoon, seas 6-8 feet, with heavy rain”.  Being a Montauk surf fisherman and hearing that forecast is like receiving an injection of drugs that spin your head out of control, causes your hands to tremble, and gets you so jacked up your nearly completely out of your mind. “Oh my God, I have to work. I can’t do it. What’s the tide? Holy shit, I have the last of the ebb and first of the flood around dusk. I can go into work, get what I absolutely need to get done, then just take a half day. Drive 90 minutes from work to home, then pick up the buggy and be in the water by 545pm. I can do it”. I would say that those were very close to my exact thoughts over and over again the entire day. Through the trembling hands obsession I managed to post that I had an opening for a three hour slot for experience casters only. Mark Deangles who is a very regular customer that loves hunting large took me up on the offer and met me out in mother nature’s fury at 530pm.  Here is the rest of the trip from my log in the Surf Rats Ball.

“Report Date: MECCA 8/21

Fishing Report:
Mark Deangels took me up on my suggestion that the fishing was going to be good. I think he was glad he did! 5:45-9pm, NE winds about 30 knots, rainy, with waves 5-7’ on the south side. When we get conditions like this I get a little loony tunes, the cheese begins to fall off the cracker, and who knows what my charters are in for—who cares as long as its fish!! We hit the town beaches first to find no fish, then we got deeeeeeeeeeeep on the south side at a very productive big water spot. The first area we hit was all munged up, the second area was a little mungy but fishable. We were into fish almost immediately on 1.5 oz. white and lime bucktails with red rind. With waves battering are torso and knocking us from our perches we battled fish after fish. Hell, we lost count! Most of them legal and above, with a few shorts mixed in. At one point I was bringing in a low teen striper, as a wave broke through my body, picking me off my rock and dumping my beaten corpse into the teeth of the white water. As I was dealing with this fish I saw Mark nearly get yanked off his perch from the strike of a tremendous striper. Mark yelled over the roar that he had a “very nice fish on”. I finally managed to get my fish off the bucktail, and hop back onto my perch. At that point Marks rod was bent in half and his drag was screaming. I know how tight Marks drag was, as whenever I am fishing single hooks in MECCA the drag is extremely tight. There is no doubt in my mind that this was a mid-40+ fish. As Marks eyes were bugging out of his head he saw her tremendous tail. Soon after that she must have turned her head a little and caught the power pro on a rock. This was a fish that I will personally never forget, as I do not forget any of the true cows that have been lost. I remember Mark asking if there was anything he did wrong. “There is nothing you could have done” I responded. If nothing else we as fishermen should be happy to have a true monster like that on, and lost her knowing that it was not the angler or the anglers equipment that was at fault. During our dark walk back to the buggy, I tripped over a rock and fell on several others, banging the hell out of my elbow and hands. From this I got the feeling of nausea and weakness as if something had been broken. Thank God nothing was broken, just banged up pretty good. I mention this because somehow it made me feel a little older. Ya always learn something in the suds, if not about fish, about yourself. I am back out Thursday night—Stay tuned!!”

That fish was more than likely well over 50 lbs. Watching that stripers tail as she rolled in the white water is something that will be etched in my mind forever. It was simply tremendous.


NE winds are almost always a good wind in Montauk because they are accompanied by big water, and big water creates opportunities for striped bass. Note that during this trip I choose to hit a daytime tide. I have found that in sloppy, rainy, big water conditions that the daytime bites are usually as good as or better than the night time bites. As a big water daytime angler you tend to be more aggressive in your approach to push out to the good water, and the fish have good cover from the white water, rain and clouds. The rain will also cool off the surf a bit on a summer day like we have in this case. This very slight change in surface temperature can turn on a bite in an instant. My approach in big water is to let the water work for me by targeting the edges of points and reefs where water is forced out of the shallows into to a deeper adjacent cove.  It is on the edges that bait will be flushing off the reef into the cove, and the larger stripers can just lay and wait as opposed to working the water. On the point where the water is shallow and turbulent you will usually find all the schoolies. Those fish will have to work much harder for their meal then the potential slobs laying on the edge. In the video you can clearly see the kind of edge I am talking about. I bet that you also noticed that this was an August trip. August is probably my favorite month to fish Montauk as there is no one there and it is perhaps the most difficult month to fish of the year.  Yes, difficult but year in and year out it is the time I catch my largest fish of the season. If you think you are are going to come here in August and clean up on big stripers or even have a shot at one big striper, but have not been paying attention of past patterns or recent patterns you are going to be in for a rude awaking. August is work, work, work! Sometimes we will walk five or six miles in the heat of the night just to fish a 10 foot piece of water that I noticed had been holding bait. With the right wind and weather day time can be very good in August but if you want to fish Montauks night August cows be prepared to take a beating.


 A nice cow Mark landed with Bill later that August….

august07 004

Editor’s note;

Bill Wetzel is what we like to call “The Hardest Working Guide in the Surf”. A quintessential Montauk Regular Bill works hard at teaching his clients the secrets of Montauk coves and consistently puts them on the fish. No wonder most of his customers come back for more year after year. Bill also runs a Surf Rats ball, Subscribers only forum at www.surfratsball.com. There he exchanges ideas with his subscribers and of course, logs each and every one of his trips for all to read. Check it out at www.surfratsball.com


13 comments on “Mid August cows…by Bill Wetzel

  1. CTMatt

    I missed signing up for his blog at the JSS but Ill have to get on board even if I don’t fish Montauk. I enjoy learning more and more about reading the water and only Wetzel can lay it all out the way he does. Excellent article.

  2. Jeff Lomonaco

    Bill Wetzel, you are the man. This got me extremely amped up to fish. Come on bass, we’re waiting for you!

  3. tagman

    Nice stuff Bill. You got my blood pumping! It got me
    daydreaming of getting my butt out there. Thanks

  4. cowharbortackle.com

    Bill W. is a great guide and an even better person. I am excited to sponsor Bill at Cow Harbor for our last seminar of the winter 2013. The Seminar is free, you can sign up at…. http://www.cowharbortackle.com

    Bill Wetzel:
    Reading the water & selecting lures (April 6th 12 noon – 2pm)
    His advice will be an inspiration for everyone.

  5. Dave Whitney

    You have seen Bill talk about Striper fishing and you guys are as amped to get out there as I am. The guy just brings fish to the end of the line!
    The best part of a new season is that the whole year is in front of us. Last year I found great fishing with pretty much all legal sized bass for the whole month of March. Get out and go get them!

  6. Yoda2828

    WTF thanks Bill, as if its not hard enough getting to sleep at night anticipating the start of the season. Like Z said it makes you just want to go cast anywhere and anything. I love it wheny wife says it’s so nasty out it’s perfect sleeping weather “bu bye”. “See you later” . Tic tok tic tok . Was that a bunker splash I just heard 🙂


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