Wednesday, January 26, 2011

An Interview with Captain Paul Mandella

A Bay Shore , NY Striper Courtesy of Captain Paul
If you've been following things here at Something's Fishy , you know that I always like to feature different styles and types of fishing. I've been fortunate enough to snag an interview with Captain Paul Mandella from Maybe Tonight Charters . Captain Paul runs a charter service out of Bay Shore, NY that targets the Great South Bay and Fire Island Inlet fishery for Striped Bass, Bluefish, Weakfish, Fluke and other local species in season. Captain Paul also maintains the blog which features lots of great saltwater fishing tips , info about rules and regs and a whole lot of other information for anyone interested in fishing. Go check out some of his fish pictures  for an idea of how the Captain gets things done!

Captain Paul , on behalf of my readers and myself I'd like to thank you for agreeing to do this interview. Welcome to Something's Fishy!

JM : At what point did you decide to go into the Charter Fishing Business and why ?

PM : In all the years I have been fishing I have always enjoyed having the company of others aboard the boat. I always enjoyed having friends and family who wouldn’t normally get the chance to take advantage of the fishing opportunities here on Long Island come out for the day and catch fish. I have been fortunate enough to be able to put some first time anglers into some fish they would normally only have seen pictures of. The best of all is having the kids out. The face of the child landing their first fish is something beyond description. It was these same friends and family that suggested I might be good as a charter operator so I decided to go for it and have loved every minute of every trip.

JM : Can you describe how a typical charter trip with you works?

PM : Typically someone interested in a trip contacts me either via email or telephone listed on the website. I determine the type of trip they are interested in (E.G. half or full day, species, etc.) and we go from there. The saltwater species we target are all very dependent upon tidal and current conditions with particular conditions offering the best shot at the species of the day. Dependent upon the perspective client’s requested trip type departure times for their preferred date are then arranged.

JM : What species do you target and what times of year are the best for these species?

PM : Hands down the most popular species for my clients is the Striped Bass which is a good thing as this is the fish I grew up chasing using any method required for landing them. My preferred tactic is using any type of live bait such as bunker (menhaden), hickory shad, eels, herring, etc. The fall striper migration is a very good time of year with the action generally in full swing by early October and carrying right through the end of November and into December some years. In recent years, the Spring run has surpassed the Fall with solid action on good sized fish usually by mid-May and lasting through the start of July. As with just about any other type of fishing the water temperature is more important than a date on the calendar.

JM : What is your favorite fish to target when you have clients with you and why?

PM : Again I am going to go with the Striped Bass here. These fish grow large and are very powerful. A cow striper has a tail on it like a corn broom and when she gets that tail working against a strong pulling current it is a challenge for anyone to bring her to the boat. Add to this the fact they are just a beautiful fish with their striped flanks and wonderful coloring while in the water. There is nothing better than seeing the large head of a big striped bass come up at boat-side to get the blood pumping.

JM : Can you give us a rundown of what type of boat you use and some of the things you like and dislike about it ?

PM : The Maybe Tonight is a 28.6 ft Southport center console. I looked long and hard at a long list of the usual suspects in the center console market before deciding on this builder. The boat offers a 10.6 ft beam which is the widest in her class. It is this wide beam that gives the boat an amazing stability on the drift. The boat does not rock and roll at rest like some other narrower hulls. This is key to my style of fishing as our live bait fishing is done while drifting over various pieces of bottom structure. The boat stands steady even with 3 -4 anglers fishing one side of the boat. She offers very generous freeboard in the cockpit giving anglers the ability to use the gunwales for leverage against a good fish.

As for any dislikes about the boat I can honestly say that, aside from what I consider a design flaw of tucking the batteries in a tight spot ( Hard to remove in the off-season), I have not found anything on the boat I dislike. I’ll be sure to update you if I ever do ;-)

JM : Some of the charter Captains here in the south offer dolphin watching trips , shrimping trips and other trips to fill the void when times are slow. Do you offer any trips of this nature or are you a strictly fishing Captain ?

PM : In my area of the charts we do not have what could be termed “reliable visits” from the dolphins or whales. While I have encountered both of these at times their appearance is nothing that I could count on to provide viewing tours to clients. That would just not be fair. Until this past season I did offer Fourth Of July cruise for a huge fireworks display put on by the NY State Parks at Jones Beach. However the Parks Department has had their budget slashed and the fireworks show is no longer. So, I guess you could say I am fishing Captain !

JM : Can you tell us how things have changed and if any of the new regulations have helped or hurt the fisheries in the North Atlantic?

PM : Oh boy, I could go on and on here about this one JM. Let me try a quick review on just my favorite, the Striped Bass. I can recall as a kid running across the bay and encountering schools of menhaden stretching hundreds of yards. One school after another. It is not like that today, not even close. The menhaden are a key piece of the striped bass’ diet. The harvesting, or overharvesting, of the bunker population is well documented on the Internet. The decline in their population has had an effect on the stripers as well.

Striped bass were everywhere in my childhood days. The stories of the striper fishery around these parts in the late 70s and early 80s is the stuff of legend. Well it all collapsed by the mid 80s and a moratorium was placed on the Striped Bass , restricting anyone from even targeting them. Not that you could find one by then. When the moratorium was lifted a large size limit of 36inches was placed on the fish in New York to protect the first successful spawning class seen in a long time. The limit then went to 38 inches for some time. I believe these limits were very instrumental in the recovery of the stripers.

JM : What do you think the future looks like for charter fishing here on the East Coast?

PM : Very hard to say, but I can tell you that the current state of the economy has had a large impact on the boats. Folks just do not have the income to spare for recreational things they used to. Gas prices are adding to this as fare increases or surcharges have been a way of life further adding to the cost of a trip and making it even less inviting to folks where cash is already tight. Forecasters here in the New York area are predicting gasoline prices exceeding four dollars a gallon by spring. And that on the street, add another 50 cents a gallon at the marinas. 2011 should be interesting to say the least.

JM : Can you tell us about your favorite or most memorable charter trip with clients?

PM : I had a father and son out of a striped bass trip. It was somewhat late in the season but the weather had not really started to turn cold yet. That is until the day of our trip. That morning on arrival at the boat I figured they would want to cancel as it was very cold. Skim ice had actually formed in the slip around the boat. Well, they wanted to go. We crunched out of the ice and headed out into the freeze. The little guy had until that day never landed a striper and the plan was to take advantage of some excellent diamond jigging that had been going on. I was concerned the cold might put a damper on the bite but as it turned out the weather only seemed to ignite the bite even hotter. From the very first drop of the jigs it seemed one rod or the other had a fish on for the next 5 hours. It was red hot and was enough to have all of us forgetting how cold it was that day. Suffice to say the little guy had finally caught his FIRST striped bass JM!

JM : What type of fishing do you do when you don't have clients and are able to go fishing just for fun?

PM : This is an easy one, I do the very same type of fishing while out alone as I do with my charter clients. I just love the whole game from gathering up the bait to hunting the fish down , there really is nothing else I like doing more. There are a bunch of nice tournaments that I fish with the same group of guys and those are a great time.

JM : And lastly , do you have any advice for any of our readers who may be looking to hire a charter?

PM : The questions I hear most often are, How many people can the boat hold, Do I need to bring my own tackle, bait, etc and how long are the trips for. Some boats are licensed to carry a certain number of passengers based upon Coast Guard ratings while others, such as myself, are of the “6-Pack” variety and only licensed for up to 6 passengers. Clients may want to confirm a particular boat/captain is carrying proper insurance and any required permits. Here in NY, anglers aboard properly permitted charter boats are allowed 2 striped bass at 28 inches while the regulations are different if they were fishing aboard their own vessel. Additionally, NY requires a saltwater fishing license for all anglers over 16. Properly licensed charter boats are required to carry this license which covers their fares while aboard the boat.

On the subject of tackle, clients may want to bring their own. Normally this would not be a big deal but might be best to confirm. If the boat is providing equipment is it up to the task? You don’t want to be paying to fish and then not enjoy the day because the rod or reel were of questionable status.

JM : Thank you so much for doing this great interview about your charter business , it's always great to hear what the pro's have to say!

PM : I would like to thank you very much for this opportunity to speak with you and your readers about my very favorite subject and tell you that I truly enjoyed this.

JM : You're very welcome Captain ! You can come back for another interview anytime!

Be sure to visit Captain Paul at and if you're ever in the Bay Shore area , stop by and book a trip with Maybe Tonight Charters!

Have a great weekend!


  1. JM, once again, I thank you for the chance. It was fun to do :-)

    Tight lines......

  2. Enjoyed the interview. Captain Paul's operation sounds top notch.

  3. Thanks Josh and Capt Paul! Good stuff. I've yet to catch a striper. Sounds like a good time. I'll have to hit you guys up when I get out that way.

  4. @ Captain Paul : It was a pleasure working with you on this and you're welcome!

    @troutrageous1 : Thanks! The good Captain does seem to be a very professional guide and I was very pleased that he agreed to do the interview.

    @socalsalty : Thanks for stopping by. Never caught a Striper? I don't recommend starting , unless you like hard fighting fish :)

  5. SoCal, it would be awesome to have you out. You know where to reach me if you ever tour the New York area :-)

    Troutrageous, thank you for the kind words :-)


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