Fishing Takes Back Seat to Golf

A good number of golfers also like to chill out on a stream, river, lake, bay, or ocean to go fishing
Bill Witchey landed this 11.5-pound fluke on the Ebb Tide out of Montauk on June 13. Ebb Tide

Last week, other than taking my boat out at 4:30 a.m. on Saturday to for a quick check on my lobster traps (yes, I did capture enough for a dinner or two), I did not pick up a fishing rod. The reason was pretty simple, as I was hanging around the U.S. Open at Shinnecock Hills. 

While Shinnecock has the Atlantic Ocean to the south and Great Peconic Bay to the north, the course itself is pretty dry (notwithstanding the criticism the United States Golf Association took for the crusty greens witnessed by many frustrated players on Saturday afternoon), with only the sixth hole having a small pond on the right side of the fairway. Sadly, I’m pretty familiar with this hole, as I deposited a Titleist ball into that murky body of water last month on media day — one of the many horrible shots I had that fateful afternoon when I gave up keeping score. 

Had I wetted a line in that pond, I’m pretty confident those U.S.G.A. officials would not have appreciated my dunking of a worm or other lure while Phil Mickelson was teeing off. 

That said, I discovered last week, courtesy of the crack U.S.G.A. research team in the media center, that a good number of golfers also like to chill out on a stream, river, lake, bay, or ocean to go fishing. Many find it therapeutic after a round of golf or when their schedule affords them more time away from the course. Jack Nicklaus, Nick Faldo, Paul Azinger, Mark O’Meara, Davis Love III, and Kenny Perry are just a few of the high-profile golfers who have a passion for the sport. I don’t know if Tiger Woods dropped a line off the stern of his mega-yacht when it was docked in Sag Harbor last week, but I do know he has done his fair share of fly-fishing.

Rickie Fowler is another player who likes to fish. Fowler was busy last week. Besides playing at the Open, he also proposed marriage to his girlfriend on an ocean beach in Southampton. His fellow golfer Justin Thomas took a picture of Fowler proposing on his knee in the afternoon sun. I noticed no surf rod in Fowler’s hand, just a diamond ring. She said yes. Smart man, that Fowler. Best to stow the rods away until after the wedding. 

With all the hoopla surrounding the Open now behind us, I look forward to returning to the more leisurely pace of summer and spending a bit more time on my boat. I’m sure that’s the same for some of the professional golfers, who are still likely licking their wounds over their high scores at Shinnecock. Given how bad my golf game has been of late, a little solitude on the water may do me some good. 

At the Tackle Shop on Montauk Highway in Amagansett, the owner, Harvey Bennett, reported that the fishing remains solid. “Sammy’s Beach has a ton of bass and small blues are at Accabonac Harbor,” he said. “On the ocean beaches, some real big striped bass have been taken and at Georgica and near Maidstone. Porgies can be had at the dock in Fort Pond Bay in Montauk and fluke fishing is holding up well near Napeague. Also, don’t forget freshwater! Largemouth bass season is open and people are doing well in Hook Pond and Fort Pond.”

Bennett added that plenty of whales have shown up in recent days in the ocean off Amagansett. “Must be a lot of bait around for them to eat,” he said. 

Fresh off his cruise to France, Spain, and Portugal, Sebastian Gorgone at Mrs. Sam’s Bait and Tackle in East Hampton was glad to be back at his shop. “The cruise was fantastic and I had a great time,” he said. While he did not partake of any fishing overseas, Gorgone remarked that the local fishing action has been productive of late. “Fluking has been red hot at Cedar Point,” he said. “Porgies are going well in Cherry Harbor and some good striped bass action is happening on the beaches.”

“Very big bluefish are at Jessup’s Neck and the striped bass fishing is still good there, but it has started to slow down a bit,” said Ken Morse at Tight Lines Tackle in Sag Harbor. Morse said that porgy fishing remains good and blowfish can still be had from the shoreline at Long Beach. He added that weakfish are at buoy 16 in Noyac Bay, while fluke fishing has been good in the deeper water near Bug Light in Orient. “Big bucktails tipped with Gulp! have been the hot ticket for fluke,” he added.

Out at Montauk, the Star Island Yacht Club held its 32nd annual shark tournament last weekend, and some truly large sharks were landed. The largest mako weighed in at 417 pounds and was taken on the Alexa Ann, while the biggest thresher was a 345-pounder taken by the crew of the Professional Cryer. The top blue shark, at 275 pounds, was caught on the Contender. 

Closer to Montauk Point, fishing has been decent. “Porgies have been the most solid fishery, with excellent fishing for mixed sizes all along the south side,” said Capt. Michael Potts of the Bluefin IV. “The sizes are even better east of the lighthouse when the tide is not running hard. As for stripers, they are there one day and somewhere else the next.”

Anglers are eagerly chomping at the bit for the start of black sea bass season. Starting on Saturday, recreational fishermen can retain three fish over 15 inches per day. However, commercial fishermen have faced a closure that took effect last Thursday and will remain in effect until the end of June. After that, the daily trip is set at 50 pounds and will remain in effect until further notice. 

For commercial porgy fishermen, effective July 1, the daily trip limit for scup is set at 600 pounds, and the trip limit will remain in effect until further notice.

We welcome your fishing tips, observations, and photographs at You can find the “On the Water” column on Twitter at @ehstarfishing.