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Charter a fishing trip off the end of the world with the Lady J

A weekend charter trip off Montauk Point on the Lady J
A weekend charter trip off Montauk Point on the Lady J
Courtesy of Janice Tocco

Summer is nearing its close once again. This weekend, Labor Day will signal the end of three months of sunny languor and recreation with barbecues, final visits to share houses on the East End, and last trips, until next season, on the Jitney. The holiday does not have to herald a total return to the grind, however, as there are plenty of ways to stretch the enjoyment of outdoor activities, especially of the aquatic variety, well into November, for New Yorkers who love Long Island and the splendors of its two forks. Montauk, known to locals and visitors as "The End", or "Montauk The End Of The World", on Facebook, is a fisherman's paradise, and every day, throughout the year, fishing boats head out to sea for commercial and sport fishing.

Captain Tom heads out to sea with the Lady J for a weekend charter
Linda Covello Photography

Party boats, or open boats, as they are sometimes called, are deep water fish catchers that specialize in hauling dozens of anglers to the spots the fish are biting. They typically work on a first come first served opportunity for 1 to 50 or more per trip. These boats are fun if you are looking for a good time on the ocean with friends and strangers and you don't mind the occasional tangled line. If the more private fishing expedition is more in line with your idea of a day on the ocean, a private charter is definitely the way to go. Typically for parties up to six, a private charter can be a great way to spend time with friends, business associates, and, even better, a great family bonding experience. Lady J Fishing Charters is run by Captain Tom Tocco and mate Janice, who is also the Captain's wife. Tocco began fishing as a child with his father on party boats and immediately fell in love with the sport. He bought his first boat as a young adult and spent every opportunity fishing in Montauk, often selling his catch to the Fulton Fish Market, as well as directly to restaurants. He introduced Jan to boating and fishing in the early 80s and she has been hooked ever since. When she is not fishing, The Lady J's first mate is a middle school teacher with 31 years of experience teaching kids from pre-K on up. This experience comes in very handy as she patiently teaches beginners of all ages to handle a rod, and hook and land fish.

The Lady J is a 30 foot Grady-White Marlin with a pair of 4-stroke Yamaha 225 outboards. The boat has a cruising speed of 25 knots that get you out to the fishing grounds nice and fast. The engines on the Lady J are very quiet and there are no diesel fumes to deal with. There is plenty of elbow room for 1 to 4 passengers in the cockpit, and she is equipped with a full head with hot and cold running fresh water. And, most important, the Lady J is equipped with state of the art electronics and safety equipment. Cruising past the assortment of luxury boats and old salt fishing trawlers at the Montauk docks, and coming around past the Coast Guard building on Star Island, guests on the Lady J feel the imminent promise of the open sea, with all its glories of sun sparkling off the water, and a hearty wake aft as the boat speeds out to the fishing grounds. For anyone who loves the ocean, there is truly nothing like a few hours hanging out amidst all the other fishing boats languidly bobbing about with their lines in the water.

The Lady J is very family friendly, and Captain Tom and mate Jan often host charters where the kids are the most enthusiastic fishermen. Their own daughter has spent many hours on board with them, and she is quite the angler, when not pursuing her main focus on the golf links at Montauk Downs. Mate Jan is in charge of baiting the rods, and often helps casting the line out the 250 or so feet required for Striped Bass and Blue Fish. On a recent charter this August, guests on the Lady J pulled in quite a haul of Blue Fish and Fluke. Almost immediately after casting the line over, two people nabbed 3 fish; one had hooked 2 Blues at once. It is very exciting once that line starts to jerk and the business of fishing begins. It can take up to two people to haul a catch over the side of the boat, as one person reels the other scoops the fish with a net. Once on board, Captain Tom deftly removes the hook and the catch goes into an ice filled cooler for the trip back to the docks. Once the Lady J is moored up and the deck hosed off, Captain Tom uses his skills with a filet knife to quickly clean the guests' catch. He easily cleaned 3 Blues and 4 Flukes in about 10 minutes on the trip this writer took on the Lady J.

The Fall Run, when the Striped Bass fatten up for their migration South, begins in mid-September and often runs to early November. Camp Hero State Park becomes a mobbed up congregation of surf casters on the rocky shores and dozens of fishing boats off shore, as the fish practically jump on the hook. The waves are dark with schools of Striped Bass as the fish chase the smaller bait fish into shore, and even the most green amateur stands a chance of hooking a fish. After November, the fish swim off, to return once again in April. But the commercial and sport fishing goes on off Montauk throughout the season, and it can be a perfect day on the ocean on a crisp fall day.

Recipe for fish cakes, a la Linda:

Leftover broiled Blue Fish and Fluke, about 4 fillets, crumbled into a mixing bowl. Cook 4 strips of bacon nice and crispy dark; set aside. Saute three thinly chopped green onions and two finely chopped stalks of celery in the bacon renderings. Add to the fish. Fresh chives, chopped, tossed into the bowl with the fish, scallions and celery. Crumble up the bacon into the bowl, add about a cup and a half of cooked brown rice, two eggs and enough seasoned bread crumbs to bind all ingredients together nicely. Make into patties and cook in the remainder of the bacon renderings for about 3 to 5 minutes per side. Serve with homemade tartar sauce.

The Lady J is located at Snug Harbor Hotel and Marina in Montauk, NY.

Cell: 845 641 6706

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