The Little things…by Bill Wetzel


From the Log of  Bill Wetzel

Report Date: 5/18 SUNDAY COW TIME!

Fishing Report: MONTAUK
I had a 2am charter this morning that did not show. Did not even call to let me know he wasn’t showing. Well I of course went fishing anyway. Light NE winds made for cold fingers at 3am. I started by making a few casts at Shag. Kind of weedy there, so I took a shot at the harbor to see if there were any stripers up on the flats. Nothing there. I decided to catch a solid thirty minutes of beach buggy shuteye, then get up and fish deeeeeeeep on the south side at dawn. On my rock infested walk in I considered fishing the first point I came across, as the ocean was rolling around her and pushing whatever it wanted into a deep water cove. The other point (my favorite) also looked good, with four to five foot sets rolling over its rocks, and clean white water just about everywhere. It just didn’t look as good as the first point. I scaled down my bucktail size to ¾ oz. so I could really work it slow. I had to pick my casts, or the waves would do what they want with the bucktail. I made about 30 casts and found no fish. I took a walk back to the point I passed up. In about 10 minutes I was into a nice 26 lb. bass. I almost did not get her in as the hook on the bucktail was mangled. A few casts late a screamer took off to china and spit my hook. Then a couple of schoolies. Then another screamer. I loosened my drag a bit in fear that she would mangle the hook. After about 15 minutes she decided to go for a rock. I managed to horse her away from near disaster, and eventually got her up to my rock. “Forty?” I thought as I bent down from my rocky perch and grabbed her mouth. My boga grip scale goes up to 30 lbs. and bottoms out at 35lb. She bottomed out the scale! I’ll call her 35lbs, but she may have been closer to 40. I’m heading to my mother’s today, and I considered keeping her to feed the entire family. In fact I was just getting down from my rock, and she made a U turn with her tail and slipped from my grasp. I could have reached down and picked her back up, but I thought it was just meant to be that way. There are obviously some cows around feeding off shad. A slow roll is key to success. Stay tuned—

I was reading a few of my logs in the Surf Rats Ball and a few things came to mind while reading this one. As my wife reminds me, “everything happens for a reason”. Had my charter not cancelled I may have not had the morning I had. Had I not made the second effort of getting up instead of sleeping through, it would have been a morning gone forever. Had that fish not turned it would have been dinner. Today, I am happy it was not. I believe that our sport of surf casting has its own laws of nature. It will do very strange things to mind and body. For those that are diligent, passionate, and as wild Bill Dickenson likes to tell me have “eternal vigilance” your rewards will come. I hope I will always keep this in mind.

So those were my initial thoughts, but digging a little deeper I think we can take a little more from this log entry. “I scaled down my bucktail size to ¾ oz. so I could really work it slow”. Why would I scale down with 3-5’ sets rolling in? During that time of year the water temperatures are typically around 51-52 degrees. At that water temperature larger stripers are very lethargic. Scaling down from a heavier weight to ¾ oz. enabled me to slow the bucktail way down and let the current take it over the rocky bottom without hanging up. Had I went up in bucktail weight my retrieve speed would have needed to faster. The higher the weight the faster the retrieve needed.  These larger chilled fish just are not going to chase a faster moving target. Put a slow moving target with the right profile in front of their nose and it is game on.

“Picking casts” is another item in this entry that caught my attention. I will say one word, contact, contact, contact! Having contact with your lure at all times is surfcasting 101. As I tell my charters, “no contact no fish”. Picking your casts to get your lure behind a wave, and letting it ride the draft of a wave (if there is such a thing as a draft) will in turn allow you to present the lure any way you please. I watch some inexperienced casters in big water casting into some great looking water, but never catch anything. The reason is that they are casting blind, by not picking their casts. Most of the time the waves are taking their lure causing them to have no contact with the lure throughout the retrieve. Sometimes I will be in the middle of my retrieve and will see a huge rouge wave barreling in at me. After asking God for the wave to spare my live, I will quickly reel in to get my lure behind that particular wave. Waves like that are special. Getting you’re offering behind one of them and having it in the white water when it breaks at times can make your entire year. Here is a video of one of my customers picking his casts.


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 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








5 comments on “The Little things…by Bill Wetzel

  1. Tim

    Recently subscribed to Bill’s site a few weeks ago, couldn’t be happier. If your a beginner, intermediate or expert the amount of knowledge that can be learned in a simple easy to understand cannot be quantified. Do yourself a favor if you really caught the surf bug and want to increase your catch and size of fish, spend the minimal money and subscribe. That fancy metal lip isnt going to catch you fish unless you know when, where, how, etc. Stepping off soap box.

  2. johnsanchez

    I learned more in three years subscribed to and a couple of charters with Bill than in 10 years reading books and trying to figure it out on my own. It is a a chance to learn from generous and polite people with decades of experience and passion for the sport, without any of the the silliness.

  3. chuckr

    I’m also new To Bill’s site myself and connot agree more with Tim and from what I been reading on the web site I know for sure will be agreeing shortly with johnsanchez ! 🙂


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