Water Water Everywhere…But Not A Minute To Fish

The Midnight Rambler
John Papciak
Montauk: Water Water Everywhere…But Not A Minute To Fish

Someone once told me that the more time I planned to spend in Montauk, the
less fishing I would actually do.

I didn’t get

So here I am coming back from a long stay
in “M” over the 4th of July, but don’t ask me for a fishing report this time.

I didn’t.


for one minute.

The rods never made it to the
rack on the front bumper.

First time ever,
actually. Shocking.

You see, there was a time
when I would drive out to Montauk for a few days and live right out of the back
of my truck. A slide on camper was waaay out of my price range. And it didn’t
matter anyway. I would put on the wetsuit as the sun was setting, I’d fish most
of the night, until I was completely exhausted, then slog back to my truck. I
had two gallons of water in separate containers. I’d pour 1/2 of the first
gallon over my head, then I’d lather up with shampoo, then pour the rest over me
while I stripped off the neoprene in the night air. A quick towel dry and then
off to dreamland under a musty sleeping bag, sometimes with the rear gate open
if the bugs weren’t too bad. (We don’t need no stinkin’ camper!) And with any
luck I’d get some quality rest before the mid morning sun made sleep unbearable.
The rest of the day was usually spent sharpening hooks, replacing korker studs,
and trading information. Important stuff like

Then came wife and kids (thankfully in
that order).

Initially, my wife was a saint
about my fishing addiction. But I should have known my life had changed forever
that first time she drove out to Montauk – unannounced – with our baby girl.

“I just felt like coming out, and we missed
you,” she said so innocently.

So then my
sleeping bag in the back of the truck gave way to a budget hotel room, and then
over time, to progressively more “female friendly” accommodations, and longer

Somewhere around 1999, she had taken
full control of booking our stays, and began encouraging other families to book
adjoining rooms. It all sounded good, at first.

It wasn’t long after that when she lobbed that
first grenade at me – “Can’t you just leave your fishing stuff home this

But I always held my ground. Some things
are sacred. You should never go to a football game without a cooler and
tailgating supplies, and you should never go to Montauk without fishing gear.

I got busted looking at my watch while
we dined with another couple on more than a few occasions. Plenty of nights
coming home after a full night of fishing and being awoken after 45 minutes of
sleep with the kids jumping in my bed, demanding to be taken to the beach. My
wife made plenty of offers to take so and so’s husband surfcasting. So a night
of wetsuiting was out – I had to scramble to “guide” a few newbies to fish on
the sand beaches – but I wasn’t getting paid for

The fishing gear came this time too – but
it took 15 years to get me to the stage where the rod actually never did make it
to the water. There was full intention to go fishing, mind you, right down to
the fresh batteries I slipped into my mini dive lights.

But that was before the raw bar at West Lake
<maybe I’ll fish later> the frantic trips to get wood for bonfires
<maybe I’ll fish later> the lengthy attempt to tow a Honda Accord off the
beach (why they tried to drive on the beach, we will never know) <maybe I’ll
fish later> the drop off of the kids at Hither Hills to meet friends
<maybe I’ll fish tonight> the morning runs to the bake shop for jelly
donuts and iced coffee <maybe I’ll fish tonight> the 4 trips to IGA
<maybe I’ll fish tonight> the beer distributor <maybe I’ll fish
later> the shuttling of people back and forth to the beach <maybe I’ll
fish this afternoon> the pickups and drop offs at the train station <maybe
I’ll fish tonight> and then finally the restaurants and the sampling of
Montauk’s nightlife <maybe I’ll fish early

Observation #1: And you think
Montauk is crowded during a daytime blitz in late September? Try getting a drink
at the Sloppy Tuna at 11pm on a Saturday

Observation #2: After seeing the lines
to get into some of these places, we should all just be very very thankful that
for all those people who come to Montauk this time of year, only a tiny fraction
have any interest in fishing.

(I will be
getting back to fishing,


10 comments on “Water Water Everywhere…But Not A Minute To Fish

  1. jerry

    Midnight Rambler, I feel your pain. Acutely. The saintly wife begins it innocently enough with… oh Jerry, Linda and her lame-@$$ed husband are coming for the weekend! They want to climb to the top of the lighthouse. then walk around Gosmans and shop (kills the day, no fishing) then… take lame Joe fishing with you.. of course the first thing he’ll say is…… “can I bring my toe-headed son with me who’d rather be playing Wii?” Then within 45 mins both the lame father and the toehead begin with…. ” I’m cold, how do you cast this thing, we should have brought bait, can you help me with this tangle, no fish here let’s move, I promised Linda I’d be home in an hour, this is not how my uncle does it, he has a boat. Do you have extra socks I could borrow? I have a blister, I don’t need that tape that you wear on your finger… ouch! Do you have a bandaid? Is it safe here after dark? I’m ready to leave when you are……” God. It used to be simple and enjoyable. Something to look forward to. now too much comfort is the worst thing.

  2. rbertoli

    This is great. I think most if us family guys endure similar circumstances. Had an almost identical conversation at least once about bringing the fishing gear. Like you, I explained that I’m not driving to eastern Long Island without a rod. Ever.

  3. Tony Marchisotto

    Great Story! My family LOVES MTK also try bringing other fishing families on the junkets girls chat…guys fish.
    Just don’t ask them to cook, clean, sew. Try to get the kid’s into fish if you can. Build your army..Good Luck.


  4. Matt

    Great entertaining story that hit the nail right on the head. I felt like I was reading something about myself, especially the part about taking so and so’s husband fishing. It only takes about 3 casts before the “Lures don’t work, we need bait,” line comes about.

  5. Bob D

    I am thankful that all those folks in Montauk in the summer are standing on line at the Memory Motel and the like instead of lining up under the bluffs or on the South side. Let them have at it I say! Although I don’t mind watching the pretty girls waiting in the line while sipping back a cup of coffee.

  6. TedC

    Great entry and so relevant this time of year. I’ve often felt that the more i get into fishing, the less i actually fish… there is a certain enjoyment to those distractions. As a weekend warrior i definitely spend more time strategizing and preparing (and spending) than actually fishing. Its the lifestyle that i enjoy– fishing year round. But man, nothing… NOTHING is better than squeezing in a fishing trip and actually landing on a bite… Which is reason alone to always take rods down to the water even when time is not in your favor. You’ll never remember most of those distractions, but you’ll never forget a surprising success on the water.

  7. unkaharry

    Many men don’t realize that it is medicaly impossable to reattach the boys once they are so horrably ripped from there orriginal location,and even if they could,they never work the same! Very sorry for your loss.

  8. Adam

    MTK has gone mainstream. Sears & J Crew sell Montauk/Ditch Plains t shirts. Everyone has a MTK sticker on their car now. Our little fishing village has a hipster tourist problem!
    Thankfully none of them fish!
    We watched surfers getting tickets on North Side early this July.

    Home owners dig 4ft deep ditches from the town beach to glass house, they are narrower than a truck’s wheel span to mess our trucks up!
    I can’t wait for tumble weed tuesday early in September when they are all gone!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *