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CURING THE END-OF-SUMMER BLUEFISH BLUES

Sunday, September 7th, 2014

If at first you really suck, cast, cast again….and again….and again….

SEPTEMBER 7, 2014: What can I say? I sucked. Been doing this surfcasting thing for about 45 years, so you’d think I’d have it nailed by now. Not! We really sucked. I say we because BBF (Big Brother Frank) and I watched big bruiser bluefish caught all around us on Montauk’s north side during our post Labor Day season opener. But we got none. A few days later, things brightened considerably. But for the time being…..did I mention that we definitely sucked?

FISH EYE POV: how the fish see my truck on the beach

FISH EYE POV: As the fish see my beach rig.

Granted, the high hook of the morning, Pete from NYC, was younger and stronger. Working in his wet suit perched on a rock , he had a fifty yard advantage on us from the start. But oh how far he could throw it. He whipped a 10-inch, 5-ounce pencil popper at the end of his waxy InvisiBraid line seemingly half way across Block Island Sound, his 11-foot surf rod whooshing through the morning stillness. I was merely wading in my shark shoes and bathing suit among the slimy rocks, trying in vain to reach the other side of the rip where bluefish were exploding on Pete’s lure with virtually every cast.  While Pete was casting and catching, BBF and I were working out the kinks in our gear.

THE FISH WALKER: Pete was nailing a bluefish on virtually every cast

THE FISH WALKER: Pete nailed a fish on virtually every cast.

Frank’s brand new reel broke down, my line kept knotting, and I snapped off the one big white popping lures that seemed to be the ticket to mimicking Pete’s success. I know it is a poor workman who blames his tools. I take full responsibility for not being up to the task on this, my shakedown foray of the 2014 fall surfcasting season. How many times do you want me to say it:  I sucked! Okay?  But a turning point was just a few days ahead.

Two mornings later, Pete the fish killer (to be fair, all his blues were caught and released to fight another day) was working the rip in his customary spot, again making sport with hapless gorilla bluefish. This day, I decided to “mug” Pete, sidling up to him, a few dozen yards to  port, engaging in friendly fishing banter. Long arcing casts were getting the job done as usual on the dropping tide. Pete must have caught 75 fish!  I was no match, but my luck and proficiency had turned: I raised four fish, hooked two, but landed none.

CURE FOR THE BLUEFISH BLUES: It took a while, but finally got mine.

CURE FOR THE BLUEFISH BLUES: Bliss at False Bar.

The next day,  there were three guys plus me casting in the same location.  I raised and hooked the only fish I saw all morning. But I got bit off at my lure’s tailhook. Served me right. I had rummaged around my truck for the heaviest popping lure I could find. The oldie but goodie I tied on was a tad rusty, and I paid the price.

BIG AND NASTY: IT TAKES ONE TO CATCH ONE

Bluefish in the 5 to 10 pound range are big and nasty.  And it takes a big and nasty plug to get their attention. The wooden popping plug I rooted out of the depths of my tacklebox was hand painted a sickening Dayglo yellow. I probably picked it up for 50-cents at a garage sale many years back. It was the biggest I had, about 4 ounces, and I matched it with my largest rod–a 10-footer–and a fresh out of the box VS200 reel loaded with 50-pound Powerpro braid. Up until this moment, I had been fishing, Now, with a strong shiny steel treble refitted to my lure, I was finally ready for some catching. Okay you green-eyed devils, bring it.

BILL GETS THE BLUES: On his "last" cast

BILLY”S BLUE: Nailed on his “last” cast.

My buddy Billy Black was on the scene for the weekend and we began our hunt at 0-dark-545am. The sandy ocean beaches of Napeague, Hither Hills and Montauk village were all socked in with fog. The water on the north side of Montauk lighthouse–the scene of the crime, if you will–was still too high as the sun began to rise. We tested it. A good workout with a gentle WSW breeze to our back. We broke for breakfast in town and when the tide was one hour into its descent, we make our way onto False Bar and began to cast in earnest. My big and nasty wooden popper ain’t pretty but it casts true and far. It wasn’t long before it produced an explosive strike, ten cranks after my cast hit the water. A big and nasty bluefish, virtually launched itself onto the lure. And this time, it didn’t get away. Later, I switched to a spanking new white little neck popper which also nailed a bluefish.

DUELING CHOPPERS: The cure for the bluefish blues.

DUELING CHOPPERS: A pair of green-eyed devils.

This one hit much closer, half way into my retrieve.  I walked the two fish to the truck and returned to cheer on Billy.  We’d been at it more than an hour and he was ready to quit. When Billy called “last cast” I protested that there can’t be just one last cast, but there must be three–all of them perfect. On cast number two, Billy scored.  This chopper was a veritable clone of the previous fish–a hefty, fighting and jumping 8-pound bluefish. It was high noon and we headed home. After a sucky season start, redemption had come at last. And dinner, pesce ‘all acqua pazza, shortly followed. Back for more next week.

BLUEFISH AQUA PAZZA: Dinner for four

BLUEFISH AQUA PAZZA: Dinner for four.

Season Opener 2014: Stripers at White Sands

Wednesday, June 25th, 2014

A fish tip from The Tackle Shop puts Tenacious Billy Black into the bass 

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Reel Therapy: Capt. Bennett at a calm moment

June 25, 2013: Captain Harvey Bennett was pulling his shoulder-length Graham Nash-esque hair out of his graying head when I walked into The Tackle Shop in Amagansett to pay my respects on a sunny Sunday afternoon. Summer was barely underway, but the Captain was already poised to burst into flames. The pressure of 35 years guiding, retailing, and dealing with dilettante googins like me clearly was taking a toll. Nonetheless, the combustible Captain shared a fish-finding tip in a conspiratorial whisper: “White Sands…first light…bass just beyond the bar…they’re gone at sunrise.” As most of you know, there wasn’t much I could do with this news. Unlike the rest of the world, whose official striped bass season begins every year on April 15, my surfcasting doesn’t get going until the day after Labor Day.

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Fish Tips: Billy Black at The Tackle Shop

Enter Tenacious Bucktailin’ Billy “Black”, 2010 Surfcasting Rookie of the Year, who hasn’t lived a spring, summer or fall day when he won’t chase fish. Harvey assured me Billy had “the word”. But apparently the fish didn’t. Billy was at the designated Napeague ocean beach Monday morning as instructed. But he might as well have been casting into a desert. No fish. A definite problem, but not insurmountable in Billy’s world.  Living up to his other moniker of Tenacious Billy, he hung around in paradise for another 24 hours. On Tuesday, the scene played out as originally scripted. At first light, nigh of 6 am, heaving a blue Super Strike popping plug over the breakers into a gentle incoming tide, Billy had the beach all to himself. With a school of fish breaking water beyond the bar, a teen-size, 29.5 inch striper took Billy’s lure right in the wash, his first keeper bass of 2014. Just as Harvey predicted, Billy was lit by a soft eastern glow; the sun not yet risen above the horizon. He also landed a 26 inch throw-back striper on a darter and dropped another fish of indeterminate size on a bucktail plug. Not a bad way to get things going in June. As for me, 68 more days ’til Christmas, uh…I mean…surfcasting season.

This teen size bass was the first from the surf this year for Tenacious Billy Black

This teen size bass was the first from the surf this year for Tenacious Billy Black

 

Year End Highlights: 2013 Fall Surfcasting Season

Wednesday, January 1st, 2014
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BOAT BASS: July was too early to start fall surfcasting, so I took a little sea cruise with friends and look what attacked my line!

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SAND DAB: Sand eels on the beaches attracted all the action this fall, including this flat little critter in early September.

 

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ON THE MENU: Tasty bluefish and striper filets from the grill of Sammy Shamu.
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TEACH THE CHILDREN: Nurse Carm and her angling daughter Angela were the wetsuit queens of the North Bar in Montauk this season.

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MARVELOUS “MEL”: Mary Ellen talks a lot, fishes even more and is always on the leader board with big bass to her credit. But what she does to trucks………

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THAT TEE SHIRT DON’T LIE: One fish, two fish, red fish, blue fish. It took five of these oversized snappers to feed the Red Hill Gang.

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PROSCIUTTO WRAP: A tasty way to grill a whole bluefish.

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CAPOS GO SURFCASTING: The 2013 return to the beach by the boys from Brooklyn

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MICRO BASS: It took light tackle and a trip to 3 Mile Harbor, but Dan shook off the skunk in his sole appearance of the season.

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BLUEFISH BENNET: Cpt. Harvey of The Tackle Shop got his toes wet in October.

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TROPHY BASS: This 20-plus pounder nailed by Slammin’ Sam took third place overall in the season-long locals competition.

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DUELING KEEPERS: Bucktailin’ Billy with one of many he took home to eat and California Chris with his first every for the cooler.

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THE BUDDY SYSTEM: Big Brother Frank stayed close to Bucktailin’ Billy all season and they nailed keepers together on the sandy beaches of Napeague

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PERSONAL BEST: A sand eel orgy on Montauk town beach in November and a spanking new Van Staal 150 produced this teen size beast which was my trophy for the season.

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Amazing Randy: Always dressed right for any fishy occasion, this Queens lad lands lunkers with the best of them.

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SKIP’S STRIPER: He didn’t know me from Adam when he stepped into my truck at 6am on a blustery November morning. But Skip went home with a big’un and I know he’ll be back for more next year.

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MR. NOVEMBER: Nobody does it better than Verizon Charlie. He fishes early, he fishes late. Always there, always reliable, always affable. He even pickles his own herring. We expect nothing less from the Mickey Mantle of surfcasters.

Merry Fishmas 2013

Monday, December 23rd, 2013
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Lyrics by Big Brother Frank and Fred, photo by California Chris, design by Chaweenee

The good thing about the end of fishing season is how seamlessly it segues to the season for making merry.  Therefore, in an unending quest to blend the our two most beloved seasons, Big Brother Frank and I offer you our annual Fishmas Card.

Tight lines in the New Year and jingle jingle, y’all.

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Lovely Weather for a Surfcast Together With You

(to the tune of Sleigh Ride, by Mitchell Parrish and Leroy Anderson, 1948)

 Just see those striped bass finning

Ring-ting-tingling too

Come on it’s lovely weather

For a surfcast together with you

Outside the tide is falling

And Googins are calling, “Yoo-hoo”

Come on it’s lovely weather

For a surfcast together with you!

Fish ‘em up, fish em up, fish em up

Let’s go; how far can you throw?

We’re fishing in a wild nor’easter blow.

Crank em in, crank em in, crank em in

Don’t snag; keep your hands off the drag.

We’re casting along with a song

Of a fisherman’s fairy land.

Our lures are sharp and shiny,

And picked out by Harvey with glee.

We’re in the suds together

Like two sharpies with white boots would be.

Cast over the bar out deeper

And nail a keeper or two.

Come on, it’s lovely weather

For a surfcast together with you.

There’s a striped bass party

At the home of old Jack Yee.

It will be the perfect ending of a blitz for me.

We’ll be filleting the fish

We love to grill without a single stop

At the barbeque while we watch

The Clampie pop; Pop! Pop! Pop!

There’s a happy feeling

Nothing on a boat can match.

When that big’un in the wash winds up

a 12-pound catch.

It’ll nearly be like a picture print

By Currier and Ives.

These wonderful fish are the things

We remember all through our lives!

Just see those striped bass finning

Ring-ting-tingling too.

Come on it’s lovely weather

For a surfcast together with you.

Outside the tide is falling

And Googins are calling, “Yoo hoo”.

Come on it’s lovely weather

For a surfcast together with you.

The Timely Casting of California Chris

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

December 15 is the closing day of the 2013 Striped Bass fishing season.  But before I get to a season wrap up and move on to the annual holiday “Fishmas Card”, I have one more fall tale to tell.  This one of my remarkable nephew and his uncanny sense of timing who proved that sometimes once is just enough.

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Surfcasters stretched for a mile along  Napeague beach in pursuit of stripers.

First light on a chilly late October morning revealed a picket fence of surf fishermen, spaced 20 yards apart and stretched for a mile east and west of the sandy entrance through the dunes to Napeague State Park, west of Montauk. This army of anglers had swarmed to this normally deserted idyllic beach in pursuit of striped bass which had been feasting on sand eels since Columbus Day.

Bucktailin' Billy: Sunrise striper on the beach

Bucktailin’ Billy: Sunrise striper.

By the time the sun poked through the low clouds on the eastern horizon, Bucktailing Blliy S. had a fat 31-inch keeper bass in the cooler. Big Brother Frank had caught and released a schoolie just shy of the 28-inch minimum.

My nephew, California Chris, sat in the truck…and waited.

Allow me to reintroduce you to Chris.  He last gave us all a fishing lesson on East Hampton’s Main Beach, nailing one schoolie bass after another on a sunny day in fall 2010.  He doesn’t always make the surfcasting season here on the East End, but when he does, he has a knack of making it count.

Back to the present: A cloud of gulls worked the waters coursing over the very deep bar, far beyond even the most yeoman cast. Here and there along the chorus line of casters, a sweet spot existed, where the fish ventured close enough to where mere mortals could reach them. But mostly it was throw as hard as you can, as far as you can, as often as you can–and hope for the best. A slow but steady pick of bass and blues brought up a quality crop of teen-size fish, with an occasional 20-pound trophy.

Meanwhile, Chris continued to sit in the truck…and wait.

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Sam’s 26-plus pounder. Royalty among surfcasters.

Now, among the copious lies and lore of fishing, there is one adage that is certain:  You can’t catch fish from the truck. Indeed, you must put the line in the water.  So I asked Chris:  “What’s up with you?”.

“I hate this kind of fishing”, he replied as I watched four or five rods bend with fish on their lines. “What kind if fishing would you call this that you hate ?” I answered. “Sharpshooting”, said  Chris. Hmmm. My definition of sharpshooting is casting blind into a seemingly dead sea with fragile hope that something will swim along to swallow my lure by dumb luck. This morning, conditions were anything but dead.

Still, Chris remained in the truck…..and waited.

More poles bent. By 8 am, Slammin’ Sam Doughty, one of the resident royalty of local sandy-beach striper hunters, joined the fray. Sam took 3rd place in this year’s local surfcasting tournament with a 26-plus bass he caught a week earlier. And for a brief moment on this morning, as if drawn to Sam himself, a pod of fish darted inside the bar producing swirls, splashes and a dozen fish on the hook.

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California Chris nailed this 33-inch striper, his first ever keeper, on a single cast.

Now Chris stepped out of the truck.  He walked some 10 paces to the water’s edge.  He hadn’t bothered to don waders, but took a stance on dry sand. On his first cast, Chris’ line went tight and he leaned back on his heels. In minutes, he dragged ashore a fat, 33-inch bass, his first ever keeper.

Shooting me a wry grin, Chris lifted his catch and retreated to the truck.  Say what you will, but on a fish per minute, or fish per cast basis, Chris had the best season of us all.

Can’t wait to see him here again next season. In the truck, of course.

 

Capos Go Surfcasting: Tony and His Kinky Boots

Friday, September 27th, 2013
Tony wore the poofiest shoes ever seen on a fishing beach.

Kinky Boots: Tony wore the poofiest blue shoes ever seen on a fishing beach.

SEPTEMBER 27, 2013: It must have been his footwear. Tony wore the most godawful poofy blue Topsiders any of us have ever seen when the Brooklyn Capos came to surfcast for their 7th year in a row. And don’t you know, it was he alone among these childhood buddies who caught fish—micro-striper though it was.

Anthony or Santiago?

Old Man and the Bass: Tony or Santiago?

Not that anyone has a right to knock baby bass. In mid-September, when the fall striper run should be ramping up to its peak, the fish, instead, are certainly distracted as we all are by Indian Summer; Lollygagging, sipping pink drinks with umbrella stirrers, reading the New Yorker. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration. Maybe they’re reading the New York Post. Whatever they’re doing, the fish are definitely not feeding because there is bait EVERYWHERE and not a predator upon them. So, a fish caught is a fish caught, no matter the size, and despite the fact that it was a catch to be released, not filleted.

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Dan nailed micro-bass at Billy’s Beach.

My son, Can’t-Miss-Dan, was a 24-hour drop in and he too nailed a striper in diapers on light tackle. Both were caught during a tailgating respite at “Billy’s Beach”–so called for our own Tenancious Bucktailing Billy–a placid sliver of shoreline along the channel leading into Three Mile Harbor.

Having shaken the skunk off himself and the rest of the Capos, Tony and the boys chowed down in a nearly celebratory mood on eggplant parmigiana sandwiches and roast chicken that I packed in the truck. And when, for our last dinner, I conjured up a batch of black bean soup and grilled a half dozen rib-eyes, there was nary a complaint. Like the old joke about the hunter and the bear, the fact is, my guys didn’t really come for the fishing.

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Dr. Charley cutting bait like a surgeon.

Except Dr. Charley Boyz. Once I roused him from bed at dawn, he willingly stayed on the beach and cast the whole day through. He even put his doctoring skills to work cutting up clam bellies when, in a desperate move that I am none too proud of–and is never to be spoken of again, you hear?–we resorted to “meatstick” surf-fishing, using bait instead of lures on Napeague Beach. Needless to say, the change of tactics did not change the fish’s minds. They were having none.

But at least I was able to serve up the sea’s bounty on two evenings. Before the full complement of Capos arrived, Felix and I chased down a handful of cocktail blues that hopscotched in and out along the sandy beach near the White Sands Motel just before sundown.

Five of these cocktails Blues fed the masses.

Five  cocktails blues fed the masses.

Within hours, we dined on one tasty two-pounder which I left on the bone and grilled whole, wrapped in prosciutto, a trick I borrowed from my trout fishing friends. When the full Capo crew was on hand, I served up the rest of the fillets baked in the BW’s marinara sauce along with the requisite linguine. Throw some broccoli rabe and escarole braised in olive oil and garlic at these guys and they soon forget this is a fishing trip.

Especially Vinny. It’s a major accomplishment for him to actually make it to the east end of Long Island from the Oakland suburb where he lives.

Vinny sweeps a poker pot.

If he only fished like he played cards, Vinny the Taxman would have swept the surf.

Frankly, the only time Vinny seems coherent the entire weekend is when he is playing cards. Vinny is still a virgin in the surf. I’m not sure he actually believes there are fish to be caught and that these weekends are not a conspiracy to take his money at the poker table.

Bluefish grilled whole on the bone wrapped in prosciutto

Trout Fishing Trick: Bluefish grilled on the bone wrapped in prosciutto.

Wounder Warrior: Bobby cast between coughs.

Bobby A.:  casting between coughs.

Bobby A. was a wounded warrior on this trip, fighting off a budding case of bronchitis and an ear infection. Still, he cast valiantly between coughs. But it was Felix, who chased after, cast for, and saw more fish than any of the others, and proved gamest of all.

He fished with all his heart and might only to come close but never connect.

Most likely, Felix just wasn’t wearing the right shoes. And that left Tony, thanks to his kinky boots, as the only Brooklyn Capo with a true FishTale to tell for 2013.

We’ll get them next year guys.  Just don’t ever stop coming back.

Felix's casting form was near perfect in the surf

Felix chased blues on the beach with nearly perfect surfcasting form.

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Capos Surfcasting 2013: Fred, Dan, Big Bob, Tony, Dr. Charley Boyz, Bobby A., Bucktailin’ Billy, Felix, Vinny the Taxman

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As Tides Go By: Surf Fishing’s High Holy Days

Thursday, September 19th, 2013

 

“With the coming of the war, a tortuous refugee trail sprang up to Casablanca. Here, the fortunate ones might obtain exit visas and scurry to Lisbon, and from Lisbon to the New World. But the others wait in Casablanca…and wait….and wait….and wait…”

SEPT. 19, 2013: And that is precisely what I and all the other usual Montauk surfcasting suspects have been doing: waiting for the fall run to kick into gear. And waiting…and waiting….and waiting.

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At Turtle Cove, Waiting……..

 

Like our hero Rick, who says he went to Casablanca “for the waters”,  I too was misinformed that Labor Day would be the beginning of a beautiful fishing season. As yet, this story does not have a wow finish. But, stick around; one may come to me as I go along.

I was shocked, shocked to find the pickings so slim these first few weeks. After all, Labor Day is to me what the Letters of Transit were to Laszlo: From this point I have an irrevocable pass from the BW (beautiful wife) to fish until Thanksgiving. Furthermore, the first week in September brought early what is traditionally the luckiest fishing days of the early season: The Rosh Hoshannah Blitz, and, 10 days later of course, the lesser known but up-and-coming Yom Kippur Blitz.

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Picture Perfect Weather: We’ll always have Napeague

Rick and Ilsa will always have Paris, as I guess I will always have these beautiful and picturesque late summer days. But for all the fishing success anyone’s had, we might as well have gone back to Bulgaria.  Making the pre-sunrise rounds on cool, cloudless mornings and later with the backdrop of  blazing orange sunsets, I hunted all the East End beachs with cohorts Tenacious Bucktailing Billy, Big Brother Frank, Verizon Charlie and the Amazing Randi.  We plied south and north facing haunts from Amagansett to the Montauk Light and–as Rick suspected of Ilsa–there were others in between.

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Of all the beaches in all the world, this fish had to swim onto mine….

Some, though not many, fared better than we. I am, indeed, the kind that fishes and tells. In two weeks, I saw one quality striper emerge from the Montauk rocks pre-dawn, and a few stray, skinny bluefish nailed on the last of the outgoing tide at the North Bar. I’d bet the fish are asleep on the North Bar.  I’d bet they’re asleep all over the East End.

Verizon Charlie and the Amazing Randi picked up a couple of bluefish on the descending tide at North Bar. So did Nurse Carmela and her wet-suiting daughter Angela. All I had to show for my efforts, however, were a couple of silly sea robins and an anemic sand dab flounder caught off of Treasure Island Drive beach. Of all the beaches in all the world, these trash fish had to swim into mine.  It didn’t take much to see that these catches didn’t add up to a hill of beans in this crazy fishing season.

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North Bar Wetsuiters: Nurse Carmela and daughter Angela

By the end of Yom Kippur weekend, Billy and I showed up at Oyster Pond Cove at 7am. But the fish, imitating inspector Renault, arrived at 10. We were long gone by then. However, Verizon Charlie–the spiritual leader of all surfcasting activities who is a very influential and respected man in Montauk and points west–stuck around to nail a couple of nearly legal bass.

Now, with Sukkot–the ancient harvest festival–upon us, I maintain a stoic attitude.  After all, you must remember this, a fish is just a fish: A cast is just a cast. The fundamental things apply, as tides go by.

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Verizon Charlie nailed a few of these long skinny Bluefish

If you just said, “oy”, well, you are right in the spirit of things. That is to say, you’re just as confused as me.

Here’s looking at you….squid.

 

A Mid-Summer’s Fish Charter

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

A tasty return when four Realtors set sail for stripers on a sultry day

Lenny the Sailor, Bobby the Fish Killer, Yours Truly and Sammy Shamu.

Lenny the Sailor, Bobby the Fish Killer, Yours Truly and Sammy Shamu.

JULY 17, 2013:  My good buddy and fellow Realtor–let’s call him Sammy Shamu–says his wife’s latest best dates were with me. True, the elegant Ms. J. and I have tooled around Kings Point waterfront properties in her hot wheels; we’ve had picnic lunches, and recently spent a day touring and tasting in North Fork wine country. But it’s been all business. I assure you. I assure him. Still, Sammy remains skeptical.

So, to demonstrate that I don’t play favorites in his family, I used the occasion of a striped bass fishing trip to give Sammy a literal taste of the good life, Fred style. Another of our esteemed real estate colleagues–Bobby S., the silent but deadly striper hunter–arranged for a four man charter aboard the Sundowner out of Orient Point on a particularly vicious mid-summer morning.

In his Element: Bobby S. is a silent but deadly striper hunter.

Bobby’s had good fortune aboard this vessel. In fact, the captain adorns his cockpit with a photo of Bobby and the 45-pound bass he boated on a past sail aboard the Sundowner. Ordinarily, I eschew boating in favor of surfcasting. But I was in for the camaraderie and the conviction we’d go home with dinner at least.

Unsure whether to appeal to my colleagues’ carnivorous or vegetarian side for breakfast and lunch, I fired straight down the middle, stepping aboard the Sundowner at 7am with eggplant caponata sandwiches on seeded mini semolina rolls, along with grilled breaded chicken cutlet panini on beds of baby spinach flecked with tangly feta cheese. There was a cooler filled with Hofbrau House lagers, but the dozens of Poland Spring water bottles won the 90 degree day.

Shortly past 8am we began drifting live eels over a 26-foot deep ledge in The Race, a stretch of fecund water off Little Gull’s Island where Long Island Sound meets Block Island Sound. We lucked into a gentle breeze that gave some relief from the searing sun and mercifully kept the black flies off our legs–except for those of Lenny P. the Sailor.

Lenny the Sailor:  He took first fish and most fish for the day.

Lenny the Sailor: He took first fish and most fish for the day.

Couldn’t feel too bad for Lenny, however. He took two-thirds of the day’s pool by nailing the first fish–a fat 33-inch striper–and the most fish–later he added a gorilla bluefish and a frisky sand shark. Bobby, our fearless leader, had two keeper bass, but threw one back in hopes of a trophy that never came. This was my first time fishing with Bob who had not been indoctrinated in Fred’s fishing rules. Note to Bob: Never throw back a keeper. It’s in all the literature.

There are NO small fish in my hands, ever.

There are NO small fish in my hands, not ever.

My production was nothing to write home about. I landed a short bass and hooked a monster bluefish that bit off before we got it to the boat.

But back to the star of our show: Sammy Shamu.  About an hour into our drift session, Sammy boated a broad-shouldered linesider. In the interest of full disclosure, the very capable mate–”filet-and-release” Zack–estimated Sam’s fish at 34 inches, 12 pounds.My highly trained eye told me Zack was underselling: 36-inches, 15 pounds for sure. And, I am certain by the time you read this–though this fish has long since been sliced, grilled, eaten and digested–it is sure to be even larger.  Reread this story tomorrow and you can add two more inches and two more pounds.  Such is the nature of stripers–and fish-tale tellers.

Shamu Sammy: He scored with the fish of the day.

Sammy Shamu: He scored with the fish of the day.

With a cooler full of fish, Sammy and I hustled off to Amagansett on the South Fork for a lightning round of organic farm-stand shopping, a swim at the ocean beach and dinner at Big Brother Frank’s house. Hoping to introduce Sammy to the joys of fresh caught bluefish, I went with a mixed grill of bass and blues, dressed with a summery fresh tomato and basil salsa.  It all disappeared in record time, consumed along side fire-roasted baby zucchini, a summery escarole salad by SIL St. Toni of the Blitz, and washed down with a blush California rosê.

Dinner: 40 pounds of bass and blues

Dinner: 40 pounds of bass and blues

Do we think that Sammy had a good time?  I’m guessing yes because the following evening Sammy and his wife asked for the recipe to prepare the rest of his catch precisely the same way. For the record, here it is:

 Mixed Grill of Striped Bass and Bluefish with Fresh Tomato & Basil Salsa

  • Bluefish and striped bass filets, cleaned;
  • Ripe tomatoes, red onion, fresh basil, garlic;
  • Extra virgin olive oil;
  • Fresh lemon juice and/or zest;
  • Salt and pepper.

PREPARATION

  • Lightly salt and oil the fish filets;
  • Finely dice then mix the tomatoes, onion, garlic, basil, lemon salt and pepper with the olive oil to form a syrupy dressing; Set aside;
  • On a clean, hot and oiled grill, cook the fish a few minute on each side, depending upon thickness; The bluefish will likely cook more quickly–2 minutes per side. The thicker bass filets will require about 6 minutes per side or more. When the filets are opaque, or springy to a finger poke, they are done.
  • Spoon the dressing on the cooked filets and serve.Mixed grill of blue and bass with a summery salsa

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy New Year 2013

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

SeasonsGreetings2012.001

Merry Fishmas 2012

Sunday, December 23rd, 2012

It’s not that FishTales went away this year.  More the case that the fish hardly made an appearance.

A brief blitz of bass in mid-October. Then came Hurricane Sandy and, well, you know the rest.

Still, this is the season of hopes and dreams.  So we pine for the miracle of Christmas Bass, in the most figurative sense.

And as Big Brother Frank and I have penned here: “We Believe”.

Therefore, may there be a Van Staal under your tree, a keeper on your line,  and love and peace on Earth for the New Year.

Merry Fishmas to all.

Fred

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Gina, Fred and Frank Abatemarco. Lyrics by Frank and Fred. Graphic Design by Chaweenee. Photo by Punk Rock Barrister Justin Hoy.

 

GRANDMA NAILED A KEPER AT THE LIGHTHOUSE

(To the tune of Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer)

Grandma nailed a keeper at the Lighthouse,

Fishing on the slack tide Christmas Eve.

You can say there’s no such thing as Santa.

But as for all the Sharpies, they believe.

She’d been drinking rum with Harvey,

And we begged her not to go.

But she slipped into her waders,

And she staggered to the Point under the snow.

When she weighed in Christmas morning,

Down at Paulie’s Tackle Shop,

She had a striper in the cooler,

And a big ole nasty bluefish on the top.

Now the bass is on the table,

And the pudding made of fig.

But Grandma’s deep into her tide charts.

She says New Year’s Eve at North Bar will be big.